Friday, May 05, 2017

We need more than sound and fury to defeat the GOP's cruel policies

Chris and I wore tutus to a local bar last Friday night.

Nobody beat us up. 

Our tutus were homemade from strips of tulle and, well, left a little bit to be desired. They were blue and black. We wore them over our jeans. Not as noticeable or as flamboyant as the pink tutus worn by others at Accomplice Brewing Company at the old train station. 

People all over Wyoming wore tutus to work and school and bars on Friday. It was in response to Sen. Mike Enzi's April 20 comments.  

This from the #LiveAndLetTutu Facebook page:
During a recent event at Greybull High School in Greybull, a sophomore courageously stood up to ask Senator Mike Enzi a question -- what he was doing to support LGBT youth in Wyoming? To which Senator Enzi responded, "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." This message delivered directly to the youth of Wyoming sends the message that if you're bullied in high school things are NOT going to get better. His comments say that to find happiness you must leave Wyoming.
Patrick and Brian Harrington came up with the #LiveAndLetTutu theme and hashtag. They are creative people in Laramie, You may have seen Brian's excellent photos all over the place. On April 22, he took great shots of Laramie's March for Science. The two brothers are from Greybull. They know some of the stigma attached to people who are a bit different in any small town. That's why Enzi's remarks rankled me. It was if he was proclaiming that there was a correct way to be a Wyomingite and an incorrect one. Many incorrect ones. If you follow any of these paths, you will get your ass beat. Or worse. Remember Matthew Shepard.

This is an era when our differences define us more than our similarities. Too bad, since we have so many things in common. For 25 years, I traveled Wyoming promoting the arts. I met all kinds of people. We talked art and not politics. The two are intertwined, but most people in Wyoming what's best for their families. The arts and arts education mean a lot. I once saw a performance of "Annie Get Your Gun" at Greybull High School, the same one when Sen. Enzi made his comments. The whole town, it seemed, turned out that night. It was a high school performance so not all of the voices were stellar and a few lines were dropped. "Annie Get Your Gun" is a bit dated, what with its portrayal of Native Americans and women and the West. Still, any attempt at high school theatre must be applauded. Most schools in Wyoming still have art teachers but theatre teachers are in short supply. Plays are usually supervised by a local with theatre background or a faculty member who (as I did) played The Second Dead Man in a minimalist version of "Our Town."

An event such as #LiveAndLetTutu" features elements of protest and theatre. Protest is always partly theatre. Clever signs and outrageous costumes play a part. So do music and poetry, as in the recent March for Science in D.C., and our own homegrown one in Laramie.

Is protest as theatre effective? It helps us get our ya-yas out. It does nurture community. But it didn't stop the House GOP from passing the so-called American Health Care Act. The better name is Trumpcare. Or Ryancare. Or Tryancare. More creative challenges for us wordsmiths. The GOP has effectively taken over enough state houses to gerrymander the hell out of many states. Their voter suppression efforts have paid off -- for them, anyway. Margins can be thin when half the electorate stays home because you've made it too hard for them to vote. Or their brains have been turned to mush from too much Fox.

Trump & Company only understand one thing -- raw power. We shut them down by voting them out and changing the laws that feed the oligarchy. This won't be easy as we've grown complacent. The theatre of protest will have some effect. But without serious involvement, I am but
a poor player/That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/And then is heard no more: it is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing.
Sound and Fury. We need more than that. Much more.

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