Anny Gonzalez says she experienced in 2013 what so many women are now publicly opening up about in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement: she was sexually harassed by her boss, tried to reject unwelcome advances and was eventually fired from her job cleaning planes at Boston’s Logan Airport.
On Tuesday night, Gonzalez – dressed in back and wearing a “TimesUp” pin on her blouse – was surrounded by members of Congress and in the same room as Donald Trump as the president delivered his State of the Union address.
For the 24-year-old, Tuesday marked Gonzalez’s first visit to the nation’s capital. A guest of Democratic Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, she was one of numerous sexual harassment victims and survivors who were in the House chamber to represent the growing #MeToo movement at Trump’s national address.
“I feel nervous being here. I never expected so many cameras and so many important people,” Gonzalez told CNN. “I feel proud to have been chosen by the congresswoman to speak about the situation so that other women aren’t going to suffer the same thing that I went through.”
A mother to a 7-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son, Gonzalez said losing her job meant losing many of her belongings and being forced to move into a shelter. She planned to return to Boston on a 6 a.m. ET flight Wednesday morning so that she wouldn’t have to miss work.
Clark told CNN that in asking Gonzalez to be her guest, she wanted to send a message that the cultural change that the country was going through was “not just about celebrities.”
“It’s about people who are working as janitors and working cleaning planes as Anny did and working in service and hospitality, who tend to work for low wages but are a vital part of our economy, and more than that, our communities,” Clark said.
Gonzalez said her daughter didn’t know what she was doing in Washington this week, but that she planned to tell her one day.
“I’m going to explain to her why she was here so she understands what she can do so that something similar never has to happen to her,” Gonzalez said.
Asked about Trump, who himself has confronted multiple allegations of sexual misconduct over the years, Gonzalez said: “I’m not afraid of standing in front of him because this is something that has to stop – be it now, be it later. It has to stop.”
At least 15 women have come forward with a wide range of accusations against Trump, ranging from sexual harassment and sexual assault to lewd behavior around women. Of the women, 13 say Trump attacked them directly and two others say they witnessed behavior that made them uncomfortable. All the alleged incidents took place prior to his assuming the presidency and Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.