Breaking: Michele Bachmann gets glittered

Michele Bachmann has just joined Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty as the latest anti-gay politician and presidential hopeful to get glittered. Bachmann was speaking at RightOnline, a conservative conference taking place in a nearby hotel at the same time as Netroots Nation, when she got her turn to feel the rainbow.

Pro-LGBT activist Rachel E. B. Lang said, “You can run, but you cannot hide!” as she glittered Bachmann. The statement was in reference to “You Can Run But You Cannot Hide” ministry, an anti-gay group in Minnesota for which Bachmann has helped raise money. The group has used deception to spread their in public schools, funded by public school dollars.

Rachel explained the motivation for glittering Bachmann in a statement put out by GetEQUAL:

“My response to Michele Bachmann’s hateful and anti-gay rhetoric was light-hearted, but these issues are very serious,” said Minnesota resident Rachel E. B. Lang, today’s glitterer. “Bachmann’s support of groups like You Can Run But You Cannot Hide show exactly how extremist she is — she in no way represents the values of Minnesota and certainly does not represent the values of America.”

Lang is straight and a lawyer in Minneapolis, and has several gay family members, including her mother and her 75-year-old uncle who recently married his 75-year-old same-sex partner in Iowa.

“As long as Michele Bachmann and other out-of-touch politicians are attacking my family and limiting my freedom, there will be more and more glitterings across the country,” said Lang. “Today I welcomed Bachmann into the Glitter Hall of Fame and, until these politicians stop their anti-gay attacks on families like mine, people will continue to stand up for equality and the freedom to love whoever they want.”

Update: Check out this video via Bilerico of Rachel talking about the glittering:

Rachel: My mother is very happy with what I did. I’m very proud to have a lesbian mother and I wish that she could get married in this state, but politicians like Michele Bachmann have prevented that from happening.

Reporter: Barack Obama is opposed to. Would you throw glitter on Barack Obama?

Rachel: I disagree with Barack Obama on a lot of things. If he were here I would glitter him too. I think it would be harder to get that close to the president, though… Any politician who doesn’t want gays to be able to get married should be glittered… I hope that people across America will take the glitterati movement to every politician who won’t stand up for gay rights.


Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • Danny

    I feel like these glitterings are a really ineffective way to raise any sort of meaningful debate or discussion. It seems to me that the only people who really end up discussing it are the more progressive people who already support gay rights, conservatives just dismiss the whole thing as some ” crackpot” running around throwing glitter.

  • Matt

    While I believe people who are oppressed are quite justified in confronting those who deny them their rights, I feel somewhat uneasy about glorifying this particular tactic (as been done three times now). Sometimes you have to be a dick to someone else who is being a greater dick, and it’s not as if the harm is anywhere close to what gay people contend with in most states, but glitter bombing seems to lacks the poetry to make it clear why the target is so awful (particularly to those in the decisive middle).

  • Dave

    First, I was rather surprised that the security would let a person with a container in their hands to approach the stage like that.

    Second, there are better ways to voice your displeasure about an elected official. Disagreeing with a person is not reason enough to throw things at them.

  • Neil

    I have my doubts about this being an appropriate type of activism. It strikes me as a little bit juvenile. It also seems like it could be considered some form of assault (unwanted touching), and even people we disagree with are entitled to be free from physical molestation.

    It also seems like it could lead to violence, because of the possibility of misunderstandings about intentions by a political figures’ bodyguards. Staff members may not know what the activist is about to throw in the candidates face and they may think it is something that is not harmless, like battery acid, and overreact.

    • Napoleoninrags

      I think it could lead to more than run of the mill violence, actually. If someone mistakenly tries a stunt like this on one of the GOP presidential candidates once secret service details have been assigned, they could actually get themselves killed.
      And it’s hard to blame security for responding, given that politicians (on both ends of the political spectrum and every point in between) routinely get death threats.

      This is a very dangerous and ineffective form of non-violent protest because it has the near certainty of being mistaken for violence by the powers that be.

      • davenj

        “This is a very dangerous and ineffective form of non-violent protest because it has the near certainty of being mistaken for violence by the powers that be.”

        I’m not really certain this is non-violent protest. It’s throwing something at a target. Limited violence, sure, but it is somewhat violent.

  • Magoonski

    Should have used more glitter.

  • unequivocal

    I would like to think that most of us outgrew throwing things at people we disagree with sometime towards the end of elementary school. I just really can’t get behind this.

  • Critter

    As much as I hate Michele Bachmann’s politics, I don’t find a video of a woman being assaulted particularly funny.

  • davenj

    Said it about Pawlenty and I’ll say it again: this tactic is unacceptable. It’s borderline assault, and it’s really dangerous for the target and the person throwing the glitter. The reason why Rachel Lang wouldn’t do this to Obama is because the Secret Service might shoot her if she tried, and for good reason.

    To put it another way: would this tactic be acceptable if it was coming from a conservative group? If anti-abortion activists were throwing red glitter on pro-choice candidates would that be okay? I sincerely doubt it.

    Even if we ignore that this tactic is unethical, it also strikes me as being very ineffective. The message is muddled and the action is so strange as to elicit little support from folks who aren’t fully behind the cause, so it seems like this is just going to help galvanize the conservative base and alienate undecided voters. Either folks won’t know what was going on, or they will, and their vague discomfort with the wrongness of this action will sway them the other way.

    No to “glitter bombing”. It’s not the kind of activism I want to see any group engage in.

  • Jenny

    Throwing glitter on people you don’t agree with, besides being juvenile and illegal, is an unethical practice that puts the throwing party in a less than positive light.

    For example, many anti-abortionists used to throw things at people going into an abortion clinic. That was deemed a horrific injustice by the people here. Now, the people who write here want to promote throwing glitter on people they don’t agree with?

    The door cannot swing both ways: Either it is ok for anyone to throw something at someone they don’t agree with or it is not ok for anyone to.

    I fully support abortion rights but stunts like this make me feel a little vindictive — there is no need for this blatant illegal attack on a person voicing his opinion of what the law should be.

    If abortion activists want to throw glitter on people to prove a point, maybe I will change my vote to prove a point to them I do not accept throwing stuff.

    • LP

      Just so you know, “LGBT” isn’t a code word for “abortion”. :/

      • unequivocal

        Just so you know, “LGBT” isn’t a code word for “abortion”. :/

        Which honestly further illustrates how utterly ineffective this form of “activism” is. While you are absolutely right in pointing out that this stunt had absolutely nothing to do with LGBT issues, I never batted an eyebrow at Jenny’s comment, and it didn’t even register as inaccurate until you pointed it out. To me, this says two things:

        1) The medium is too far divorced from the subject for this to be a meaningful protest;

        2) In my mind, this type of extremism is closely tied to pro-choice/anti-abortion rhetoric, presumably because idiotic, over the top, borderline violent, morally objectionable demonstrations have typically been the provenance of anti-choice demonstrators.

        It’s perhaps worth noting that the only other type of activism that I see as similar is animal rights activists throwing red paint or fake blood on people wearing fur (or, in some cases, fake fur). Again, this is an ideology that I am in support of, being presented in such a way that it makes me consider whether my support of the ideology is sufficiently important to warrant putting up with this type of reprehensible behavior.

        Jenny got the facts wrong, but the underlying concept right. If this is the new face of GLBT activism, I don’t know how much support I can lend; thankfully, based on the general response to glitter bombing even among left and progressive sites, it seems that there are quite a few people who agree that this is a terrible approach to take.

        • LP

          While I agree that the message is, especially in this case, obscure and possibly threatening (who would really get “you can run but you cannot hide!” is the name of a pet… erm… “charity” of Bachmann’s and not a threat?) I think that’s a problem of execution rather than glitterbombing itself.

          Apart from a pretty strong case for it fitting the legal definition of assault, in reality it’s not assault. It causes no harm other than a momentary inconvenience and a temporary fabulousness on the part of the victim. Unlike tossing fruit or footwear (which can injure people under reasonable circumstance) or paint (which can destroy personal property), glitter really only has a chance of causing harm to person or property under bizarre circumstances. Lemme tell you, eye-ball papercuts hurt, but are thankfully quite rare.

          I’ll grant that when somebody you don’t know runs up to you and throws *SOMETHING* at you, fear is a pretty reasonable response. Is that fear traumatic enough to warrant calling this “violence” or “assault” or “terrorism”? My feeling on the last two is no (I’ll give you violence) but fear is something that’s hard to measure. Newt didn’t seem particularly terrified; he shrugged it off and moved on. Bachmann didn’t even lose a step. I haven’t seen the Pawlenty video, so I can’t speak about that one.

          Overall, I guess I’m ambivalent to the glitterbombings. I just feel that the people calling assault are diminishing the experience of people who’ve actually been assaulted.

          • unequivocal

            Apart from a pretty strong case for it fitting the legal definition of assault, in reality it’s not assault. It causes no harm other than a momentary inconvenience and a temporary fabulousness on the part of the victim.


            Apart from a pretty strong case for it fitting the legal definition of assault, in reality it’s not assault.

            I don’t even know what to do with this. Yes, it’s assault. The legal definition of assault will serve us just fine.

            no harm other than a momentary inconvenience and a temporary fabulousness on the part of the victim.

            You know who doesn’t get to decide how much harm their actions are causing the victim? The perpetrators.

            I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that you are on a feminist site, acknowledging that an act meets the legal definition of assault, also acknowledging that the recipient is a victim, and yet still remaining ambivalent about whether this act is okay.

      • davenj

        Pawlenty was glitter bombed in the name of LGBTQ rights and abortion rights.

        • LP

          I must have missed that part of the article.

  • Neil

    I think in general this type of activism comes from a conviction on the part of the activists that believe they are utterly correct and that those that disagree are not only wrong but also immoral monsters whose opinions are worthy of no respect.

    Commonly today, people feel this way about abortion and gay rights (on both sides). Setting aside the merits of these issues – whether there is reasonable room for disagreement – having and advertising this attitude about those who disagree makes convincing them that they are wrong less likely and alienates those who are wavering.

    It is also a dangerous way of thinking, because if this thinking is true and strongly held (that those who disagree are immoral monsters), more than glitter bombs could be justified.

    • unequivocal

      It is also a dangerous way of thinking, because if this thinking is true and strongly held (that those who disagree are immoral monsters), more than glitter bombs could be justified.

      An excellent point. I would be interested to read about where people who support glitter bombing feel the dividing line between acceptable and unacceptable forms of protest is.

      Would it be okay to dump bags of sawdust on glitter bombers in order to protest the act (I mean, aside from the hypocrisy, which apparently isn’t an issue)?

      • Maya

        I would say yes–if you have such passionate anti-glitter-bombing beliefs that you’d like to protest by throwing sawdust at the glitter-bombers, you should feel free to have at it.

        • unequivocal

          We have obviously reached an impasse; if the absurd counter-example that I provide is met with a “yeah, that’s cool too,” then it’s obvious that our differences of opinion run deep enough that the conversation can’t really proceed any further.

          I do, however, give you genuine props for internal consistency.

  • Jessica “Jess” Victoria Carillo

    I love the glitter bombs, not a very good way of furthering the cause of sexual orientation equality, but probably because I’m so excited about the Fairly OddParents film. Feel the love of the glitter haters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 1ah11

    Pleeeaaase. It’s glitter. At least someone is DOING something and getting attention for it. It’s maybe even a tiny bit radical, which in my mind is very refreshing. Where did all the awesome activists go? Are we really all just sitting around our computers waiting for pre-written debates?

    • Jenny

      It is not just glitter, it is also assault.

      If you are publicly speaking do you want someone to run up and dump glitter/water/eggs/other substance on you just because they don’t like your views?

      If no, why is it ok to do it to others?

      If yes, please let me know when you will be in public next so I can come by and dump something on you.

    • davenj

      “At least someone is DOING something and getting attention for it.”

      If getting attention is the important thing then yeah, these protests are fine. But if being ethical is important then they’re not okay.

      Again, if this tactic is okay then would you be okay seeing it outside of a women’s health clinic? If glitter is okay to throw, then why not eggs?

    • Napoleoninrags

      Trying to pit those who write and critique against those who are “DOING” something is a nonsensical, age-old attack on the intellectual core of social and political movements. It erects a false dichotomy and, in this case, valorizes the potentially counter-productive activities of the “glitter bombers” over those of us who strongly disagree with this form of protest.

    • Lissla Lissar

      It doesn’t matter that it’s “just glitter”. I can imagine feeling a pretty great amount of terror in the time it took me to realize that what was being thrown DIRECTLY AT MY FACE/ON MY HEAD was “just glitter” and not something much more dangerous. I don’t think submitting people we disagree with to that kind of fear, even momentarily, is the right way to go.

    • 1ah11

      Well let me know when you all do something to bring national attention to LGBT issues. Until then, I still think the glitter bombs are awesome.

      The thought crossed my mind, and I’m sure I’ll be ripped apart for it, but the Stonewall riots were a major moment in the beginning of the battle for LGBT equality. Granted, the “Glitter bombing” craze is nowhere near as monumental, but had the riot not happened (due to everybody playing nice or whatever), would we be where we are today?

      I mean, when Anita Bryant had a pie thrown in her face, it got the message across that there was a strong movement against her and her words.

      So, do I feel like it’s appropriate to throw an harmless substance like glitter at an authoritative figure who is trying to oppress me? You better believe it. But is it appropriate to throw potentially harmful substances (like eggs) at people who are not in positions of power over me? Absolutely not.

      • unequivocal

        Eggs are potentially harmful, glitter is not? That’s the thrust of this argument?

        I find that less than compelling. The general rule that I think we should be following is “grown ups don’t throw things at people they disagree with.” There doesn’t need to be a “unless it’s a harmless substance” addendum to that.

  • Maya

    Very interesting to see so many commenters describe glitterbombing as assault. Especially after reading this article in which the original glitter-thrower, Nick Espinosa, explicitly notes that glitter–in addition to invoking gay culture–is a playful act in contrast to more aggressive forms of protest:

    “[Other] methods of protest can be aggressive and physical,” Espinosa points out. The pie-in-the-face tactic, for example, borders on assault. “Glitter is a safe, fun, and creative way to protest. And it’s sort of a joyous act, it’s a bit more fabulous than some of those other methods.”

    I’m fine with throwing a harmless substance at a public figure to make a political statement–and I’m not being hypocritical in saying that. In fact, I’d be happy if anti-choice activists took to glittering pro-choice politicians, instead of harassing and intimidating the actual women seeking abortions, physically blocking access to necessary health care, bombing clinics, sending death threats to abortion providers, stalking and harassing them in their communities, and shooting and killing them in cold blood. If they would voice their opposition to abortion solely through glittering, it would be down-right lovely.

    • unequivocal

      in which the original glitter-thrower, Nick Espinosa, explicitly notes that glitter–in addition to invoking gay culture–is a playful act in contrast to more aggressive forms of protest

      That’s fantastic that Espinosa explicitly states that glitter is non-aggressive. However, I don’t think he gets to be the one to decide that. It is obvious that many people are parsing this as a violent, aggressive and inappropriate act. To me, personally, Espinosa’s opinion on the matter is worthless; not only is he obviously biased in favor of glitter-bombing, but I’m also personally disinclined to listen to people whose primary form of discourse is best suited to a pre-school playground.

      I also kind of feel like the people who are defending this have never actually had a lot of experience with glitter. Cleaning up after this sort of thing is not trivial.

      In any case, I note that for the most part, this seems to come down to a fundamental difference in approach. You note that you are fine with throwing a harmless substance at a public figure. I feel that throwing things at people is not okay.