Hundreds of dancing LGBTQ revelers, scores of rainbow flags, and a flurry of glitter descended on Vice President-elect Mike Pence's yard in Chevy Chase, Maryland on Wednesday for an evening of peaceful protest. Put together by LGBTQ advocacy dance group WERK For Peace and DisruptJ20, a community organization, the jubilant celebration was in defiance of Pence's abject anti-LGBTQ record, which includes a reported belief in conversion therapy and his signing into law of the anti-LGBT "religious liberty" bill in his home state of Indiana.
"We plan on leaving behind [biodegradable] glitter and rainbow paraphernalia that he can NEVER forget," the Facebook event page read. "That's right, get ready to WERK it and tell Daddy Pence: homo/transphobia is not tolerated in our country!"
Dancing may not be the most typical form of peaceful protest, but organizers encouraged people to do just that. "That's the beauty of using dance as a form of protest; it's not only a political statement, it's also a lot of fun and it's creative," Firas Nasr, the founder of WERK For Peace, told A Plus. "We get to wear whatever we like, we get to sing and dance in peace and celebration."
WERK For Peace was founded after the Pulse nightclub shooting in June, 2016. "The queer community has always been at the forefront of promoting change, and from Stonewall to Pulse, dance is integral to our movement, and to our healing," the description reads on its website.
On Wednesday, they wielded dance as an expression of dissent against Pence's anti-LGBTQ stance. "We were inspired to combat bigotry and hate that he has shown... through the use of love and connection and movement." The dance party outside Pence's house was a symbolic start to what is expected to be a long road of resistance ahead for the larger LGBTQ community.
"Throwing a giant glittery rainbow-y dance party," Nasr said, "is the perfect way to resist bigotry and hate."
Concerns about the erosion of hard-fought rights under the Trump administration is not exclusive to the LGBTQ community. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump advocated for polices that would ban Muslims from entering the country, build a wall along the border of Mexico, and fill the empty Supreme Court seat with a judge who opposes Roe v. Wade. And most signs point to him following through on those promises, although it's hard to say what to anticipate of Trump, who has a habit of making fiercely contradictory statements.
Nasr echoed the sentiment about Trump's unpredictability, adding that he would like to engage Pence in a discussion about his anti-LGBTQ stances. Oftentimes, homophobia and transphobia arise from the lack of awareness of the community and discomfort about non-traditional sexual preferences and identities. Their plan, he said, is to send a message to the incoming administration that they're not going anywhere: "We are here, we are queer, and we will dance."