On Wednesday night, as Vice President-elect Mike Pence held his own inaugural dinner at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., hundreds of LGBTQ activists and their allies took to the streets in front of his suburban D.C. rental home to protest Pence’s infamous history of homo- and transphobic policies.
"We are here today to take the streets as our dance floor ... and to send a clear message to Daddy Pence that we will not tolerate bigotry and hate in our country," said Firas Nasr, an organizer of the event.
The festive gathering in the normally staid Chevy Chase neighborhood, where Pence is renting a $6,000-a-month house, saw tutu and sparkle-bedazzled demonstrators distributing rainbow flags and flavored condoms to the vice president's neighbors, inviting passers-by to “shake our booties and bodies” to a soundtrack including Beyonce, Rihanna and Lady Gaga blasted from speakers in the back of a pick-up truck.
"We are here to celebrate the queer liberation and say that love will trump hate," Lisa Fithian, who traveled from Texas to protest the inauguration, told CNN. "Mike Pence needs to find his heart and recognize that this is a country that needs to be loving and welcoming to everyone,” she added.
“I would want to speak to him one-on-one, just explain how it is to be a trans woman in this country, and tell him it can be hard and they are making it harder, trying to push us down,” said Stephanie Fritsch. “But I'm not being pushed down, I'm here.”
The often joyous and lighthearted protest, punctuated with shouts of “Daddy Pence, come dance!” offered a stark contrast to Pence’s long and vicious history of homophobia and transphobia.
A Christian extremist, Pence has attempted to ban same-sex marriage, going to far as passing a bill while governor of Indiana which would impose criminal penalties on couples attempting to exercise their constitutional right to marry; tried to divert funding to HIV/AIDStreatment into anti-LGBTQ “conversion therapy” programs; and served on the board of an affiliate of Focus on the Family, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.
Wednesday’s protest, organized by Werk for Peace and DisruptJ20, was not the first neighborhood action to call-out Pence’s notorious homophobia.
In December, almost a dozen of Pence’s new neighbors put rainbow flags, the international colors of the LGBTQ rights movement, in front of their houses to – in the words of one neighbor – “show my disagreement," with his anti-queer crusading.
Hundreds of thousands of activists have started arriving in D.C. this week in anticipation of multiple protest actions in the lead up to Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump as president, culminating in the Jan. 21 Women’s March, which organizers expect will be the biggest protest in the nation’s capital since the 1960s.