These days it’s not uncommon to see cowboys, businessmen, and bikers bellying up to the bar in tutus. Yes, those frilly skirts ballerinas wear. And it’s all thanks to ultra-conservative Republican Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming, who is still desperately trying to live down last month’s hideous homophobic gaffe and the maelstrom of protest that followed.
It all started during a speech to students, when the Senator succumbed to an ill-advised impulse to elaborate on Wyoming’s “live and let live” mantra. “We always say in Wyoming you can be just about anything you want to be, as long as you don’t push it in somebody’s face. I know a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars on Friday night and is always surprised that he gets in fights. Well, he kind of asks for it…”
His audience, and the thousands to whom the remark was instantly tweeted, responded with outrage at the implication that it would be understandable — in fact, practically obligatory — for all real men to assault any guy wearing a tutu. The #LiveandLetTutu protest went viral, and soon men and women throughout the state were wearing tutus at work, church gatherings, and countless bars, many of which offered free or discounted drinks to anybody in a frilly skirt.
Everyone had an uproarious time posting selfies on social media — except, of course, for Senator Enzi, who made furious and utterly futile attempts to explain away his remark. Reading his tweets about his “poor choice of words” you can almost hear the beads of sweat springing from his labored brow.
If you missed out on #LiveandLetTutu, don’t worry, another act of collective defiance will be along any minute. Political protests are becoming a wildly popular pastime, especially in the United States. Michael Moore’s national Resistance Calendar shows 86 major protests planned for the month of June alone.
Showing up for a march or wearing a rainbow tutu in a sports bar is great, but it's only the beginning. Being part of the Resistance involves a commitment to doing the hard work that real change requires.
But if I’ve learned anything about motivation, it’s that we don’t do things because they’re easy, we do them because they matter.
So what matters in the summer of 2017? How can you truly make a difference?
1. Champion voting. If 45% of eligible voters hadn’t stayed home on November 8, the world would be a different place today. Your next vote can help fix the mess we’re in. Online registration and absentee ballots make the process easy wherever you are. Learn about special elections, support progressive candidates and issues, speak out for electoral reform, and encourage friends to vote.
2. Commit to weekly action. Lots of groups offer weekly guidelines for meaningful activities; one of the best is the international Progressive Action, Global Exchange (PAGE). Last Monday's plan includes opposing environmental regulation rollabacks that would endanger the world’s chocolate supply. I think we can all agree that can’t be allowed to happen!
3. Pressure your legislators. The Indivisible Guide spells out simple, effective ways to do this, including attending town hall meetings and calling your reps. Politicians keep a close tally of opinions expressed by voters; make sure your voice is heard where it counts.
4. Join a Resistance group. Find listings of local groups on websites such as Indivisibles, PAGE, and Drinking Liberally, and look for city-based Resistance groups on Facebook. If you're overseas, contact Democrats Abroad and ask if there's a group in your area.
5. March. In the US, find protests via the Resistance Calendar or local news outlets. Living or traveling abroad? Check Americans Resisting Overseas or Google protests in the region. Taking to the streets is a great way to connect with individuals and groups passionate about issues you hold dear. Plus it’s good exercise!
6. Meet up with Resisters wherever you travel. Most groups have Facebook pages and list activities such as Madrid’s Hearing the Call or the Political Pub Quiz my group is holding in Seville on May 31. Connecting with fellow Resisters is a feel-good experience and a great way to exchange information and ideas.
7. Recruit new Resisters over dinner. As we have found in Seville, a little spaghetti, a lot of wine, and a few heartfelt words about why the Resistance matters can transform potential members into active volunteers with a strong sense of mission.
Every Resister has a deeply personal reason for joining the fight. For me, it was the slogan, “Make America great again,” a call to roll back the clock to an era — presumably somewhere around the 1950s — when rich white men ruled much of the earth. If you’ve ever wondered why there are so many gray-haired protesters, it’s because we remember what it was like back then: tough times for the 99%. Rich’s deepest concern is about the environment. He stands ready to do whatever it takes — yes, even wear a tutu in public, if necessary — to save the world’s chocolate supply.
Do you have any Resistance activities planned this summer? I'd love to hear about them.
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I'm an American travel writer based in Spain, to which I've just returned after a 16-month absence due to the pandemic.
As I resettle in Seville, my favorite city on the planet, I'll keep you posted on how the pandemic has reshaped the landscape and where to go to find fun, adventure, and great food in this quirky, engaging city.
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