Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro is a Washington, D.C.-based multimedia journalist reporting on activism and conflict through photography, video, and social media. He is currently News Director at News2Share. His previous work can be found at POLITICODurango Herald, and the Atlantic Council.

LGBT protesters shower McConnell's house in glitter for equal healthcare

LGBT protesters shower McConnell's house in glitter for equal healthcare

WERK's dance protest setting up outside Union Station for an LGBT-centered march on Senate Majority Leader McConnell's residence.

If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell peered out the window from his Capitol Hill abode on Monday evening, he would have been overwhelmed by a colorful block party with rainbow suspenders, confetti, and kids stuffing glitter in his mailbox - all in the name of affordable healthcare.

It wasn't the first time Washington-area LGBT group WERK for Peace had set out rocking to Lady Gaga and Madonna through the streets in the name of political activism, but it might have been the most pressing to date. Since its first action in the wake of last year's Pulse Nightclub shooting, WERK's unique dance-protest fusion has brought attention to a number of issues impacting the LGBT community from climate change to transgender rights, often by dancing to the Washington homes of Trump allies including "Daddy Pence" and "Ivanka the Complicit." Monday's theme focused on the GOP's healthcare plan, poised to leave millions uninsured within a decade. 

According to Firas Nasr, WERK's charismatic founder, the LGBT community could find itself facing the brunt of cutbacks to Medicaid repayments under Congress' new proposals. "In defunding Planned Parenthood, dramatically cutting medicaid, and repealing taxes on the wealthy, the bill will leave millions without coverage," read the event's Facebook invite, "and especially target women, people with HIV/AIDS, people with disabilities, low income people, people of color, and people who use mental health services." 

Transgender individuals, in particular, found it difficult to find healthcare under a system they were often discriminated under - until the Affordable Care Act. The Senate is poised to roll back support for health services transgender people have come to rely on, including Planned Parenthood, leaving LGBT advocates in outrage.

"We're here to support the marginalized communities that have built the LGBTQ movement," said Nasr, "and we're here to celebrate our bodies, our health, our love for one another and our community - because health matters for everyone."

Near sunset on Monday afternoon, hours after the release of the Congressional Budget Office's bleak new estimate on the Senate's "Better Care Reconciliation Act," Nasr led a dancing procession of about one hundred from Union Station to Sen. McConnell's Washington residence, a red brick rowhouse in the affluent neighborhood just behind the Supreme Court. Chanting "call your senators, block this bill," and "healthcare now," they worked their way through Capitol Hill leaving a trail of multicolored confetti and glitter in their wake ("biodegradable," as Nasr is always sure to note before kicking off the group's dance marches).

Outside McConnell's home, the march made a plea for McConnell to come out and join - but the house was dark and all its curtains drawn. Instead, dozens graced the sidewalk with glitter and held the street in one big party for just short of an hour. A young boy stuffed a handful of rainbow confetti into the mail slot on McConnell's door, quickly running way with a mischievous grin.

WERK for Peace founder Firas Nasr shares a moment with Amy Longabaugh, who would later speak about her experience with neurosurgery.

As a multiple neurosurgery recipient, Amy Longabaugh was well acquainted with the ins and outs of the healthcare system. She had a few words for the Senate majority leader.

"It cannot be passed, we cannot take this step, our country needs to keep being a shining light - we can't have some demagogue tell us how our society is going to be run," Longabaugh said, speaking to the crowd with McConnell's home looming above her. "Having disabilities can be such a lonely world, where there are weeks where I am too sick to get out of my small apartment, and I don't see anyone but my roommate or my partner. Sometimes it seems like the world is coming down on us, but that's not what's happening - we can change our reality."

The dance at McConnell's house certainly won't be the last. While only time will tell where Nasr and his group will take their rainbow suspenders and biodegradable glitter next, McConnell isn't off the hook, even if his mailbox is already stuffed to the brim with confetti. "If Mitch McConnell is not going to work for our healthcare," Nasr declared, "then we'll be out here werking for our healthcare!" They partied off into the sunset.

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