WASHINGTON, D.C. — One thread connects the LGBTQ community across the U.S. — whether you’re in mourning of the horrific Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida or blowing off steam from San Francisco’s massive ACT UP rallies against AIDS in the 1990s.
When your rights are threatened, sometimes you’ve just gotta dance.
Around 200 LGBTQ folks and their supporters danced and tossed biodegradable glitter Wednesday night as they marched to the foot of Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s house at the edge of Washington D.C., in Chevy Chase.
“Daddy Pence, come DANCE!” the throng shouted.
And those in the LGBTQ community may have much to fear from Pence. Various news reports detail his targeting of their community: He ran a conservative think tank that published anti-gay news, he’s wanted to use HIV/AIDS funding to instead fund gay conversion therapy, and as governor of Indiana signed into law a “religious liberty” bill which some said allowed discrimination of the LGBTQ community on religious grounds.
Yikes, what a list.
“I think his record [speaks] for itself,” said Ferass Firas Nasr, original founder of WERK for Peace, one of the event’s organizers.
Nasr and the crowd marched on the dark suburban Maryland street as neon bracelets streaked to music thumping from a Toyota Tacoma. People all along the gender spectrum writhed and strutted in rainbow flags and outfits of all kinds –– many with smiles on their faces, in support of one another.
Stephanie Josephine Fritsch, who transitioned two and a half years ago, was out and dancing enthusiastically in one of the knit pink “pussy hats” that became so popular this election.
“I’m a proud transgender woman in the United States and I’m not afraid,” Fritsch told me. “We have to stand up for who we are anywhere, regardless of where we live.”
She’s a Christian, she said, like Pence, but she doesn’t want the vice president-elect’s “dogma ruling me.”
She’s from the reddest parts of Pennsylvania, she said, but that doesn’t stop her from living authentically. “I don’t define conservative and all that, I define people,” she said. “If I can talk to someone and get to know me, they might not understand me but they can’t hate me.”
“I’m not afraid,” she said.
Straight allies were out and proud, too.
“I really needed this, it’s really cathartic,” said a fellow named Tom, dressed in a head-to-toe tiger onesie. He described himself as a proud straight ally. “I fear a lack of equality, I fear a lack of progress.”
His adorable kids, Elijah and Adele, were dressed as a chicken and a witch, respectively.
As the march came to a stop by Pence’s house, dozens of Secret Service agents and law enforcement officers blocked the street just 40 feet or so from Pence’s house. No matter –– the music was loud enough to hear for blocks away, and the houses surrounding Pence’s all displayed rainbow flags, a neighbor told me.
“As soon as he moved in people started buying them,” said Pam Ross, a teacher and 14-year resident of the sleepy East Coast neighborhood.
Her pride flag is proudly displayed along the American flag, she said. It was there, by Pence’s house, that the dance came into full swing.
Dancing has “always been a symbol for love and self expression,” Nasr, the organizer from WERK for Peace, said. “We’re taking the dance floor to the streets.”
The tall, slender organizer then ended the interview, and mounted the truck blasting music behind him. In his tiny denim shorts, and bare chest adorned only by rainbow suspenders, he curled his body into an S shape to cheers from the crowd.
Then and there, Nasr twerked for justice.
A 360 degree video of the queer glitter dance party at the foot of Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s house, in protest of his purported anti-LGBTQ stances. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/S.F. Examiner)
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Follow along for daily reports straight from Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. Email Fitz at firstname.lastname@example.org