Republican Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming stuck his foot in his mouth last month when he implied that any man who found himself bullied for wearing women’s clothing has only himself to blame because he “kind of asks for it.” Now a lot of very masculine men in Wyoming are wearing tutus in protest of Enzi’s victim blaming.
The show of solidarity is in support of LGBTQ rights, not something we typically associate with the cowboy culture that dominates Wyoming.
Enzi was speaking to a group of students at Greybull High School. “What work are you and your comrades doing to improve the life of the LGBT community in Wyoming?” one student asked Enzi. “How do you plan to help Wyoming live up to its name as ‘The Equality State?’”
“There are a lot of problems that don’t have a federal, one-size-fits-all solution,” Enzi said. “Everything can’t be done by law; that’s one of the problems we have in this country, thinking that everything could be done by law. What we need to have is a little civility between people.”
If he’d stopped there, he might have gotten away with his remarks. But, as HuffPo reported, he continued.
“We always say that in Wyoming you can be just about anything you want to be, as long as you don’t push it in somebody’s face. 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. I’d be interested in any solutions that you have for how we can make that work better.”
After his remarks were made public, the #LiveandLetTutu campaign caught fire. Men who have no inclination for reshaping their gender identity began appearing in public wearing tutus. The images have gone viral.
As would be expected, Senator Enzi has apologized. He emailed CNN. The 73-year-old said doesn’t believe “anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs.” His original message, he said, “was intended specifically to be about promoting respect and tolerance toward each other.”
“I hope if people look at the entirety of my speech, they will understand that. I regret a poor choice of words during part of my presentation. 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.”
If Enzi has learned anything from this public relations nightmare, it is that many in Wyoming respect their right to be free.