Creative poster-making flourished at the Women's March on Washington. Katilyn Thomas, 20, marched to have her voice be heard. She called it powerful and beautiful to have all types of people there, and it "really exceeded" her expectations.
Kelsey Brugger

At first glance, the “Welcome Mr. President” banner hanging on the Pennsylvania Avenue building appeared sarcastic. Less than 24 hours after Donald J. Trump was sworn in, hundreds of thousands roared in his new city holding signs shaped like vaginas. Many Trump supporters would not approve of such provocative visuals.

But they were long gone. Most Trumpettes I spoke to planned to leave the city by Friday night. When I asked why, they pretended it had nothing to do with the fact that several hundred thousand fuming women were coming to town to give the new president a taste of what the next four years would be like.

Kelsey Brugger

The contrast of the Inauguration to the Women’s March on Washington could not have been starker. In hindsight, the Inauguration felt more like an amateurish tailgate party where a few gruff fans got a little too drunk off cheap beer. These were the guys (and gals) who shouted in the faces of just two protesters outside the gates of the Inauguration holding an innocuous sign that read, “No Racism, No Hate.” It was bright pink, and an obvious dig at Trump, but the “protestors” had kept a straight face, saying they just wanted to spread love. That proved to be too much for quite a few Trump tailgaters.

I couldn’t figure out why so many stopped on their way out to harass the two of them. “Who has he ever hated?” one screamed. They were oddly defensive. Even if these quiet troublemakers truly wanted to irk them, why they give them the satisfaction?

Liliana Arrington, 39, and friends came from northern Virginia to attend the march. "It's amazing," she said. "I feel like it might be okay."
Kelsey Brugger

The Women’s March on Washington, on the other hand, was like a carnival, music festival, and Halloween parade sewn together into one giant party. And despite the fact that the motivating force of the event was grave frustration, people were surprisingly upbeat. It was the perfect medicine for the Inauguration blues.

For 10 blocks, marchers filled the streets, packed like sardines, pouring into side streets and the National Mall. The crowd was so congested many people were unsure if an actual march was going to take place. Like many people, I missed Ashley Judd and Madonna’s remarks that I heard were exceptional. But I was okay with that, as was nearly everyone I talked to. That just meant this event that started as fluke on Facebook was getting the traction it deserved.

Sam Monaco spent six hours on a bus with his girlfriend to get here from Brooklyn
Kelsey Brugger

I was immediately struck by the friendliness of the people I met. Sure, I was wearing a press pass — prized by this crowd rather than by Trump’s — and these protesters were there because they wanted their voices to be heard. But it was more than that. A security guard near the White House told me absolutely no one had been unruly there. The same was true for all of Saturday (unlike on Friday night when 200 protesters were arrested downtown).

Kindness was everywhere. One woman happily gave her last Pussy Hat, which her mom knit from pink yarn, to a complete stranger, who immediately erupted with gratitude. Others were simply supportive of the boundless creativity: “This sign is an object. I am not” or “Tiny hands, huge asshole” or “Don’t forget to set your clocks back 400 years” or “There will be blood (with a picture of a tampon). Deal with it” Another angry Trump cartoon had a talking bubble that read, “I moved on her like a bitch.” An artistic Venus-like stenciling of a woman with her legs wide open, spreading her vagina, had the words, “Grab This!”

"It feels like a celebration," Malorie Thomas said of the march. Originally from Carpinteria, she said it was uplifting to see someone carrying the same sign.
Kelsey Brugger

Or my personal favorite: “Him?”

It was as though nothing could be too raunchy here. I loved it. It made me feel lucky to be a woman these days.

I also felt sort of deflated. I thought about the Trump guy who lectured me the day before in the long bathroom line about the horrors of our nation’s increasingly Godless child rearing. He talked so excessively about what used to be called family values that he was totally winded by the time it was his turn to go. If I were going to try to poke holes in his arguments, he didn’t want to hear them.

In fact, when I asked many Trump supporters if they thought the nation was more divided by partisanship than it had been in decades, most just shrugged their shoulders.

Kelsey Brugger

And so here we are, divided as ever. As I write this in my Airbnb apartment, I am starting to think we are in a new era. Perhaps one reason the Trump supporters were provoked by the quiet Trump protesters outside the Inauguration gates was simply because their signs were pink. Bright pink. Hell, I never used to like the color much. But now, I love it. I love the strength it possesses, the feeling it inspires. It’s also a funny contrast to Trump’s signature red. It’s no longer a nation separated by red and blue, folks. It’s pink and red — both warm colors, or hot rather.

Kelsey Brugger


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