Former 'Gilmore Girls' Star Reflects on D.C. March: "I No Longer Felt Alone" (Guest Column)
Ethan Cohn, who played Yale Daily News reporter Glenn Babble on the series, says he was "living in dread" when he bought a ticket to the protests. He came away feeling better.
I was living in dread. Why was I putting myself through this? After the insane shock of the election night results, I immediately bought my first pack of American Spirits in four years and a plane ticket to D.C. for the Women's March on Washington.
I slept about an hour the night before the march — which actually never was a “march,” but a rally. Because so many people showed up, they didn’t allow us access to actually march. Nobody told us that at the time, so there was a lot of frustration from the crowd who were ready to take to the streets after four hours or more of standing watching speeches on a Jumbotron.
One of the first people I saw was Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I immediately wanted to applaud because I come from a long line of curly haired Jewish women who’ve been trying to tame their frizz for generations. She was my people. But then I remembered the leaked emails and she felt persona non grata. I smiled faintly at her and kept walking.
I ended up getting stuck on this little hill that led up to an office building. It was the only place I could stand and see the Jumbotron. This rally was so massive that I didn’t even know where the actual stage was. But it didn’t really matter, because around me were thousands of “pussy hats.” Plus all those creative and powerful signs we’ve been seeing on the news. After the isolation of my Facebook feed and trying to figure out what the last few months were about with my small group of friends, here it was, a true outpouring. A true connection.
We couldn’t hear too well and were so far to the side of the screen that I probably only saw half of Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard’s face. Even so, something cathartic was happening. All that rage I was feeling, all that anger, was being expressed around me in a safe and productive way. Even Madonna and her “blow up the White House” comment — people were getting this off their chests.
Some of the really smart ones had solutions: march organizer Linda Sarsour and her powerful story of being an American Muslim; 6-year-old immigrants’ rights activist Sophie Cruz starting a chant of “si si puede”; the slightly surreal moment when all these potential 2020 female presidential nominees got up together and had an American Idol-style speech-off. There was Illinois' Tammy Duckworth; California’s own Kamala Harris and Maxine Waters; and a clear star in Sen. Kristine Gilibrand of New York.
So many brilliant, angry women who knew how to get things done. We were being healed through ideas for action. I was so moved by Ashley Judd (who knew?) and that poem. By the incredible Janelle Monae and the Mothers of the Movement, leading a "say his name" chant with the mothers of Eric Garner, Dontre Hamilton, Mohamed Bah, Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin.
We were being reminded that the world isn’t just clicks and headlines. As I walked home, after seeing the immense kindness when a woman fell down and had a seizure and 50 people very calmly called for a medic; after hearing about other people’s anger and frustration; and yeah, after finally seeing Madonna live (singing a rare B-side off the Bedtime Stories album, no less), I felt changed.
For the first time since early November, I wasn’t pissed. Because I no longer felt powerless. I no longer felt alone.
Ethan Cohn is an actor who lives in Los Angeles. He played Glenn Babble on Gilmore Girls and has recently appeared on Castle and Rizzoli & Isles.