Wyoming residents this weekend found a creative way to protest the anti-LGBT remarks made by one of their U.S. senators — holding tutu-wearing parties at bars and other venues.
Sen. Mike Enzi infamously told students at a Wyoming high school recently that he knows a man who wears a tutu to bars and gets into fights because of it — and "he kind of asks for it." After the comment met with outrage, Enzi apologized for his “poor choice of words.”
Whether or not they accepted his apology, Wyoming residents turned out in tutus throughout the state and on social media over the weekend. Butch’s Bar in Evansville, a biker hangout was the site of one of the tutu parties Friday, organized by Gage Williams, the gay son of its owners, the Casper Star Tribune reports.
“Bartenders in tutus paused with customers to move their hands overhead and sing the song ‘YMCA,’” the paper notes. “Upstairs tutus, feather boas and people in plain clothes twirled on the dance floor together.”
Wyoming Equality and other activists around the state organized #LiveAndLetTutu parties in several communities, including Cheyenne, Laramie, and Sheridan. In addition to bar parties, there was a Live and Let Tutu Family Game Night at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne and a tutu-sewing workshop in Laramie. And there’s more to come — Backwards Distilling Company in Casper will hold Tutu Tuesday this week.
Some activists emphasized that while the events are supposed to be fun, addressing anti-LGBT violence is a serious matter. “Some of us ‘wear tutus’ on a daily basis and I would really appreciate it if you didn't try and make a joke out of yourself while wearing one,” Ezra Hanson wrote on Facebook. “Respect the cause, respect the oppressed.”
The atmosphere at Butch’s Bar was both fun and respectful, Williams told the Star Tribune. “It’s so refreshing,” he said. “You know, I’ve dealt with hateful people all my life. I guess my biggest thing is that you don’t expect it here. We’re in a small little bar in Evansville, and it’s amazing, is what it is. I’m so genuinely proud of all of Butch’s patrons for welcoming us here and letting us have a good time and take over the bar with our events. They come out to have a good time, we come out to have a good time; everyone comes out to have a good time together.”
One patron at the bar yelled “Sissy is my hero!” regarding Larry “Sissy” Goodwin, the Wyoming man to whom Enzi was referring. In addition to issuing a general apology and speaking to Wyoming Equality, Enzi called Goodwin to apologize to him.
“We had a nice conversation,” Goodwin, who lives in Douglas, told the Star Tribune. “He offered an apology and I have no doubt to believe it was genuine. He was very genuine with his comments. I think we had a respectful dialogue. If anything comes out of this, we both agree that it’s opening a discussion and illuminating the issues to the benefit of everyone concerned.”