Feast of Fun – 2011: Year of The Glitter Bomb (guest blog)

On January 11th, 2012, I guest blogged 2011: Year of The Glitter Bomb for Feast of Fun, a Chicago-based LGBTQ comedy podcast and website hosted by Fausto Fernós and Marc Felion.

Civil disobedience took a shiny new twist during the second half of 2011, with a sprinkling of glitter bombings that bedazzled a stunned nation in its wake of sparkles.  Thanks to glitter pranksters, or “the Glitterati”, as they like to be called, the “glitter bomb” hit the mainstream media and glimmered its way into an all but lackluster cultural lexicon.

Although historically, the use of glitter-like substances dates way back to Paleolithic times, and the US Army even considered sending glitter out the back of airplanes to confuse radar during WWII, it wasn’t until recently that that this common crafting item was weaponized at the hands of Glitivists.

Do glitter bombs represent a violent assault deserving of criminal charges as critics like Mike Huckabeewould like you to believe? Or are they “non-lethal and non-violent manifestations of immense fabulousness” as Dan Choi affirms.  Whether you can “feel the rainbow”, or have a shimmering mess on your rug to clean up for years to come, what better time than Glitter Day, to reflect on a glitzy new trend that gleamed its way into political protest theatre in 2011.

#1 Target: Newt Gingrich

Date: May 17, 2011 • City: Minneapolis, MN
Glittivist: Nick Espinosa

We begin in May, where Newt Gingrich was glitter bombed at a book signing hosted by the Minnesota Family council, backers of anti-gay marriage ban in Minneapolis (once thought of as the hippest and gayest city in America).

24-year-old former social worker, community organizer, and alleged glitter mastermind, Nick Espinosa, shouted,  “Feel the rainbow, Newt! Stop the hate! Stop anti-gay politics! Its dividing our country and its not fixing our economy” as he dumped confetti-like flakes of gunmetal glitter onto the former speaker from what appeared to be a cereal or cracker box. Gingrich reacted with “Nice to live in a free country,” while a security guard pushed Espinosa out of the room, scolding him to “Do it like a man” and that “so goes you, goes the rotting of our country.”

Later, Espinosa told the HuffPost, “I think glitter’s a lot of fun”. He added, “it definitely makes an impact. The way that his campaign is going on this week, he was in need of a makeover”.  On a side note: In 2010, Espinosa penny bombed Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, dumping $20 in pennies on the Emmer’s lap while he was seated for dinner at the O’l Mexico Restaurant.

#2 Target: Tim Pawlenty

Date: June 16th, 2011 • San Francisco, CA
Glittivists: Nancy Macias and Chelsea Byers

In June, former Minnesota Governor and GOP presidential candidate, Tim Pawlenty was glitter bombed by members of CODE PINK, during a book signing of  Courage to Stand with what looked to be a mixture of pink Easter grass and fine powder-like glitter.

In an emotionally charged display, Nancy Macias and Chelsea Byers shouted, “Where is your courage to stand?”… “Stand for reproductive rights! Stand for gay rights. .Tim Pawlenty, welcome to San Francisco, home of Gay hero, Harvey Milk!” as they were dragged away from the site of the glittering.

#3 Target: Michelle Bachmann

Date: June 18th, 2011 • City: Minneapolis, MN
Glittivists: Rachel Lang

Later in June, Michelle Bachmann was welcomed into the Glitter Hall of Fame as she exited the stage of the Rightonline Conference. As the Star Spangled Banner blared on the loud speakers, glitter shrapnel barely missed Ms. Bachman and could have scratched a cornea, or worse yet embedded itself into her scalp.

As Rachel Lang of GETEQUAL flung glitter from her thermos, she charged, “You can run, but you can’t hide”.  Now if this were a top ten list, this would not be the number one glitter bombing, and although I admire her spirit, perhaps Ms. Lang could benefit from a glitter training camp where she could work on her aim and thrust.

Shortly after the glittering, Nick Espinosa took to the podium and proclaimed “Viva La Glitterati: Let the Glitter Games begin”.  In an interview about the incident, he proclaimed “Today. . is the start of a national movement coast to coast. We are part of the Glitterati now and we invite. . all Americans who believe in equality” to “ take the glitter into your own hands and join the glitterati movement!”

#4 Target: Bachmann & Associates

Date: July 21st, 2011 • City: Minneapolis, MN
Glittivists: Nick Espinosa & Gay Barbarians

It was only a matter of time after Marcus Bachmann called gays  “Barbarians” who needed to be “disciplined”, that he would be come the target of the Glitterati.

In July, Espinosa assembled a motley crew decked out in faux furs and spandex animal print leggings reminiscent of the Flintstones. This Glitter Flash Mob stormed the lobby of Bachmann & Associates, Bachmann’s own pray away the gay “clinic” where young gay people are sent to become straight as Espinosa tweeted messages like “barbarians at the gates”.

The Gay Barbarians demanded to meet with Marcus Bachmann, himself. Although they were unsuccessful at an actual glitter dump on Bachmann, they did shower the lobby, including an oriental carpet, which I’m sure will be very hard to clean for some time. As the Barbarians exited, they chanted, “You can’t pray the gay away, baby I was born this way” and “Hey Marcus, What’s in your closet?

#5. Target: Minnesota for Marriage

Date: September 4th, 2011 • City: St. Paul, MN
Glittivists:  Minnesotans United for All Families

In September, it rained glitter at the Minneapolis State Fair when four people on the SkyGlider ride dumped several pounds of glitter over the anti-gay, Minnesota for Marriage booth, shouting “Equality for All”.

Four people from Minnesotans United for All Families were behind the glitter shower after the group was denied a booth at the fair. Donald McFarland from the group said, “They made it very, very clear that there was no room and we weren’t coming to the fair,” Nick Espinosa who was part of the action said that no one was apprehended, and that the glitterati “just got off the sky ride and continued to enjoy the fair.”

#6. Target: Erik Paulson

Date: October 7th 2011 • City: Minneapolis, MN
Glittivist: Michael Cahill

October saw the glitter bombing of Congressman, Erik Paulsen, while receiving a “Friend of the Family” award for his effort to rewrite the MN state constitution to ban same-sex marriages at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Strategy Session. “You’re no friend to my family!” exclaimed Michael Cahill, a survivor of so-called gay “reparative therapy” as he showered Erik Paulsen with glitter.

#7 TARGET: Karl Rove

Date: October 7th, 2011 • City: Minneapolis, MN
Glittivist: Ben Egerman

Later in the day at the Faith and Freedom Conference, former deputy chief of staff and Bush’s Brain, Karl Rove was glitter bombed by Ben Egerman, who could be heard shouting, “Feel the Rainbow” and “stop the hate, no bigotry in politics!”

As the sparkles dispersed, a woman can be heard saying, “Get the police here!” Another whispers, “Damn it!” Rove resolves, “keep signing it.”  Police took Egerman away for questioning. Nick Espinoza (who wasn’t present at this glitter bombing) told the Huff Post, “I wasn’t there but I heard that they interrogated him and was told that he was being taken to the Bloomington police department to be charged with assault. However, 20 minutes later I got a call that he was free and no charges would be filed.”

#8 & #9 TARGET: Dan Savage Date:

November 1 & 9, 2011 • Cities: Eugene, OR + Irvine, CA
Glittivists: Dan Savage Welcoming Committee, Unidentified Trans Student

November, was a glitter on glitter month, when sex advice columnist, blogger, and “It gets Better” creator, Dan Savage was glitter bombed by Trans activists first at the University of Oregon as part of the “Dan Savage Welcoming Committee”.

The Huff post reported that during the session, “the operative leapt to the stage and poured glitter over Dan’s head as they shouted, ‘Dan Savage is a transphobe!’ As they turned tail, they added, ‘Glitterbomb courtesy of the Dan Savage Welcoming Committee,’ and just before they got out the door, ‘He’s a racist and misogynist and a rape-apologist, too!’ The operative then fled the scene.  

Just a week later, on November 9th, Queerty reported a 2nd on-campus glitter bombing – this time at the University of California Irvine by a trans student, who took offense to Savage’s use of the terms “shemale” and “freaky tranny porn” to label straight men who view trans porn. The student was arrested, while Savage said the being gay, he loves glitter.

#10. TARGET: Randal Terry

Date: December 19, 2011 • City: Manchester, NH
GLITIVIST: Vermin Supreme

The year in Glitter Bombing ended with an unusual theatrical gem at a Democratic Presidential Debate when performance artist, Vermin Supreme glittered Randall Terry, pro-life founder of Operation Rescue to an amused electorate. Watch more on Vermin Supreme’s platform here.

What will 2012 bring in Glitter Bombings? Should we expect glitter-related lawsuits? A glitter fatality? Flesh-eating glitter?  Or worse, arts & craft stores on lock down? Only time can tell.