A Wyoming senator may have already apologized for insensitive comments about a man in a tutu, but it was too late to stop a tutu rebellion in his state.
Republican Mike Enzi told a group of middle school and high school students in the town of Greybull on April 20 an anecdote about a man who goes to bars wearing a tutu and “is always surprised that he gets in fights,” reported the Greybull Standard. Enzi added: “Well, he kind of asks for it.”
The comment was especially thoughtless because of the savage fatal torture in Laramie, Wyoming, 19 years ago of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, who was attacked because he was gay. Strangely, Enzi made his comments as he was encouraging a “little civility” among people when he was asked what he was doing for the LGBTQ community. He noted, however, that “you can be just about anything you want to be, as long as you don’t push it in somebody’s face.”
He has since apologized for his comments.
The Wyoming Democratic Party quickly blasted Enzi’s remarks. “Tell Senator Enzi that no one is ‘asking for it’ when they wear the clothes that make them feel authentic in their sexual orientation or gender identity,” stated a post on the party’s Facebook page.
Activists and supporters quickly girded for battle — in tutus. Students, teachers and other professionals are showing up at school, work, church and in bars in tutus as part of a popular new #LiveAndLetTutu movement, reports National Public Radio. The logo for the movement is an image of a buffalo bearing the state seal — and wearing a tutu.
One group, likely inspired by the homemade pussy hats of the women’s march on Washington early this year, offered a tutu-making workshop in Laramie on Thursday.
Though the upstart movement was done in a spirit of high-energy and brash fun, activists also cautioned that the activity has a serious message, noted NPR.
“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,” wrote Ezra Hanson in a post on the Facebook page for the movement. “Respect the cause, respect the oppressed.”
The senator issued an apology for his remarks on Tuesday.
“I regret a poor choice of words during part of my presentation,” Enzi said in a statement. “None of us is infallible and I apologize to anyone who has taken offense. No offense was intended. Quite the opposite in fact, and so I ask for your understanding as well.”
He added: “No person, including LGBT individuals, should feel unsafe in their community.”
CORRECTION: This article previously misstated the date of Matthew Shepard’s murder.