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There Will Be Glitter: A Talk with Nick Espinosa

On Tuesday Mitt Romney joined the ranks of politicians and conservative figures to be “glitter bombed”, an increasingly popular act of protest that is
Mitt Romney gets \"glitter bombed\" at an event in Minnesota on Tuesday.
Mitt Romney gets \"glitter bombed\" at an event in Minnesota on Tuesday.

On Tuesday Mitt Romney joined the ranks of politicians and conservative figures to be “glitter bombed”, an increasingly popular act of protest that is exactly what it sounds like. Very simply, it’s when an activist throws large amounts of glitter on the intended target—typically, someone who has upset the LGBT community.

After Romney’s son Josh took a moment to brush some of the glitter from his father’s blazer and hair, Romney handled it like a true politician and spun the act to be a symbol of celebration. After spotting the protester in the crowd, Romney waved and said “I’m delighted to be here with you. This is an exciting time. I’m happy for a little celebration. This is confetti! We just won Florida! We’re just going to win the White House next!”

Many of us were introduced to this method of protest when Newt Gingrich was glittered while signing books at an event held by the Minnesota Family Council back in May.  The MFC’s website describes their mission as one: “to strengthen the families of Minnesota by advancing biblical principles in the public arena” and states that the family should be founded on “the life-long marriage of one man and one woman” (the “life-long” part of that statement leads one to question why Newt Gingrich was invited at all, but let’s not focus on that). While the glittering came as a shock to the rest of us, Nick Espinosa, a 25 year old from Minnesota, had been planning all along to do something to garner attention for the LGBT struggles in his state.

Earlier that May, Republican legislators in Minnesota had introduced bills that aimed to put a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage on the 2012 ballot—something that Espinosa was strongly against. “My friends and I were all shocked and angry that a state like Minnesota would be the place where right-wingers would bring their divisive social agenda, and try to send us back in time while were are looking ahead for full equality for all people.”  Once Espinosa noticed on Twitter that Gingrich would be in the area he knew he had to do something “sensational”. And glitter bombing was born.

His compassion for the LGBT community is the product of something very simple, though not what you might expect—his own family and their struggles with the immigration system. When Espinosa was 15 his father was deported. “Without warning, agents arrived to our house and took him into custody. It was a devastating blow to our family, and something that took me years to fully understand.  The feeling of powerlessness as an unjust system tore apart my family is one that has stuck with me, and one that motivates me to stand up for the rights of families to stick together and to fight against anything that would keep them apart. I know that my experience is not isolated, and that millions of families have been ripped apart by our broken immigration system, and by archaic views on LGBT equality, and until we organize and fight back it won't stop.”

And organize he has. Espinosa was personally responsible for the glittering of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, but he has helped organize the glitter bombing of Michele Bachmann, her clinic (accused of using “pray the gay away” methods), Karl Rove and Erik Paulsen.  He has also been heavily involved in Occupy Minneapolis since the planning stages and— while he has put special focus on “Occupy Homes” (which fights for homeowners against foreclosure)— he says that “just as members of Occupy are standing up to wealth inequality, we will stand against inequality based on sexual orientation, race or immigration status.”

Espinosa hopes to use the attention he’s garnered (he has a Facebook fan page with over 2,000 supporters and his Twitter account has over 2,500 followers) “to shine a light on the shameful tactics of politicians like Mitt Romney.” He says that “glitter activism” has been successful in bringing attention to the views of anti-gay politicians and that he looks forward to “being part of a lifelong movement for justice and equality for all people.”

When asked who his dream glitter bomb target would be, Espinosa replied: “Unfortunately, there are too many to choose just one. What it all boils down to is this: wherever there are homophobes, there will also be glitter.”