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What Happened While Trump Was Being Inaugurated

queer protesters

Queer protesters speak out about why they are attending the inauguration.


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- What happened on the streets of downtown D.C. while Donald Trump was being inaugurated as president was missed by television cameras.

Protesters gathered in MacPherson Square, making signs and meeting up with friends. Just down the corner, a march of around 400 people was coming down the street. Protesters chanted, "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist U.S.A.!"

Jack Burns, 24, who traveled from Brooklyn, was one of the queer anti-Trump protesters seen walking through downtown. He had a Pride flag wrapped around him with the words "And Still We Rise" written in white.

"I think it's important that we maintain a presence at the inauguration to represent the LGBT community and speak out against this," Burns told The Advocate. "I think it's important that people voice dissent to the world and the country that we're not OK with what's going on here."

Meanwhile, Trump supporters were scattered throughout the D.C. area, usually visible because of their "Make America Great Again" hats. Burns said he wasn't used to seeing Trump supporters in the flesh, since he lives in a liberal area of Brooklyn.

"I haven't had a lot of experience being exposed to Trump supporters," said Burns. "I have family who voted for Trump, but they're not extroverted Trump supporters. It's really scary to me, to be honest. I do feel with this flag around me I have a target on my back a bit. I'm OK with that. I have a GoPro in case anything happens. I'm documenting."


The two sides haven't always intermingled peacefully during the inauguration festivities. A group of protesters who were trying to block the parade route got the attention of cable news cameras after Trump took the oath of office. Police were shown using flash-bang grenades to disperse the crowd. Some reported being hit with pepper spray.

The scene was much less dangerous earlier. Parker Allen Stanley, 22, also came in from New York City to attend the inauguration. Stanley was wearing a full-body snowsuit covered in red, white, and blue stars and stripes with a big USA on the back, and his face painted in blue and white, with as he described it, "a nice little red lip."

Stanley came to Washington in hope of lightening the mood among those who feel dismayed about the political process since Trump's election. He says his outfit embodied how many people feel at the moment.

"I may look like a clown, but look at America," Stanley told The Advocate. "I look at myself and I feel like I embody how I see America right now, this obnoxious clown. There's nothing but red, whites, and blues. One big joke!"

It was that ostentatious display of patriotism that had many Trump supporters stopping Stanley to take photos. One of Stanley's friends pointed out that the people in "Make America Great Again" hats likely thought he was a fellow Trump supporter because he was decked out in red, white, and blue.

Stanley sees this as an advantage. "They may be taking photos of me laughing at it or laughing with it but the thing is I'm on their phone; I'm in their radar and that's what we need," he said.

Stanley heard about a queer dance party protest at Vice President Mike Pence's house Wednesday and wishes he could have been there because, he said, that form of expression is exactly what makes America great. "This is exactly what we do here," he said of the party, "and that's what I love and celebrate today."

Not only is using dance to protest the anti-LGBT vice president American; being gay is American. Despite what may come, Stanley feels optimistic. "I'm gonna dress up in red, white, and blue, and say guess what? You can't get rid of me because I'm American too!"

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Yezmin Villarreal

Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.
Yezmin Villarreal is the former news editor for The Advocate. Her work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Mic, LA Weekly, Out Magazine and The Fader.