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Posted by on Apr 30, 2017 in Politics, Society | 0 comments

The two-step and the tutu

What comes to mind when you hear “Wyoming”? Yellowstone National Park. Big sky, perhaps. Cowboys. Dancing the two step. Fierce independence.

The nation’s least populous state might seem an unlikely ally for LGBT rights. But its libertarian-leaning culture grabbed the national spotlight this weekend with #liveAndLetTutu, a grassroots response to political foot-in-mouth disease.

The back story

On April 20, US Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) held a Q&A with students at Greybull High School (grades 6-12, audio). Sophomore Bailee Foster asked Enzi “what he was doing to help Wyoming live up to its nickname as The Equality State.”

Enzi prefaced his response by stating that several situations across Wyoming cannot be taken care of by laws alone; that not every issue has a “federal, one-size-fits-all solution.”

That philosophy fits the libertarian-leaning conservatism of the state. Enzi continued:

“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. That’s the way that he winds up with that kind of problem.” (emphasis added)

Patrick Harrington, who grew up in Greybull, called on Wyoming residents to show their support for the state’s LGBT community by wearing tutus to work or school as well as to local bars. His goal: make it clear to Sen. Enzi that he represents a “really diverse group of people in Wyoming.”

In a written statement, the Senator regrets “a poor choice of words.”

In an emailed statement to CNN, Enzi said he does not believe “that anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs” and that his message “was intended specifically to be about promoting respect and tolerance toward each other.”

Reactions from Wyoming

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University of Wyoming student Ty Wolff poses in front of campus building with Mike Enzi’s name.

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Art works

Maybe you've heard and maybe you haven't but my home State's senator Enzi said some unacceptable things about how men wearing tutus are asking to get assalted. Me and my fellow Wyomingites don't feel that way in the slightest. Which is why across the state yesterday people banded together and rocked tutus to not only show unity, but support for our fellow Wyomingites that are members of the LGBT community. I did what I do best by drawing one! I love my home and I love that there are people in it that want everyone to just be themselves. So #liveandlettutu my friends. Go check out the hashtag to see some of my friends and other amazing people showing that Enzi is wrong by rockin' some kick ass tutus! There's some great ones go check 'em out! ??????? • • • • #doyoubooboo #beyourself #tutu #wyoming #wyominglife #community #wearentenzi #istandwiththem #lgbtrights #protest #watercolor #watercolors #watercolorpainting #primawatercolors #pentelbrushpen #staedtler #canson #dailyart #myart

A post shared by Roam Free Creations (@roamfreecreations) on

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Eric Krszjzaniek photo; The Crowbar & Grill.

Portraits of Real Wyoming #2 #liveandlettutu

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The Lander Bar.

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“three friends walked into a bar wearing tutus and they weren’t ‘asking for it'”

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Eric Krszjzaniek photo; Sweet Melissa Cafe and Front Street Tavern

Portraits of Real Wyoming #1 #liveandlettutu

A post shared by Eric Krszjzaniek (@krszjz) on

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Montage from AJ+

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West Potomac’s production of Billy Elliot

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Eric Krszjzaniek photo; Buckhorn Bar & Parlor

Portraits of Real Wyoming #4 #liveandlettutu

A post shared by Eric Krszjzaniek (@krszjz) on

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“No one is ever asking for it”

And in closing

Eric Krszjzaniek photo; Vickie and Sissy Goodwin. Sissy is “Wyoming’s most famous crossdresser and a man who … Mike Enzi called personally to apologize about his recent comments…”

Portraits of Real Wyoming #5 Vickie and Sissy Goodwin. Sissy, being Wyoming's most famous crossdresser and a man who has fought against bigotry for longer than I've been alive, who Mike Enzi called personally to apologize about his recent comments, is also a retired professor, loving husband for 49 years, and loving father of two. At the end of the night, as I thanked him for making the trip down to Laramie, and as we stood in a bar halfway between the spot where he had been arrested 30 years ago for dressing in women's clothing and the bar where Matthew Shepherd had ordered his final drink, Sissy intimated that the evening was the highlight of his life. There's more beauty in Wyoming than just mountains and open spaces, and there's more to its people than Cheneys and closed minds. #liveandlettutu

A post shared by Eric Krszjzaniek (@krszjz) on

The LA Times profiled Goodwin in 2013 and reported in 2015 that he and his wife were moving to Portland.

NPR featured Goodwin in 2015:

Sissy Goodwin teaches power plant technology at Casper College in Wyoming. The 68-year-old Vietnam veteran dresses in women’s clothing, wears bows in his hair, likes his skirts exactly 17 inches short, and prefers his toolboxes in pink.

Eric’s description of Goodwin as the state’s most famous crossdresser is spot on. As is his conclusion:

There’s more beauty in Wyoming than just mountains and open spaces, and there’s more to its people than Cheneys and closed minds. ~Eric Krszjzaniek

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