As serious political protests go, this one was lively and gay

Despite the tumult and confrontation I encountered at many inaugural week protests in and around downtown D.C., the Queer Dance Party at Mike Pence’s House in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which began as a mile-long parade through the streets, was a brazenly celebratory and positive outpouring of joy and flamboyant good humor.

As the expectant crowd slowly assembled at the Friendship Heights Metro, organizers began urging everyone present to help themselves to rainbow suspenders and glow sticks. Firas Nasr, a founder of Werk for Peace led dancers into the street headed by a police escort, and a pickup truck outfitted with disco lights and a sound system blasting Beyoncé and Whitney Houston. This was not the only protest I shot during inauguration week that was well-organized, but it probably was the only one where coffee and snacks were provided.

Many of Pence’s neighbors appeared enthusiastically on their front lawns to welcome the procession with supportive cheers and LGBT rainbow flags as we crossed into Chevy Chase. Local police and Secret Service had cordoned off the house itself, but the nearby intersection filled with revelers as Nasr proclaimed, “We are queer, we are here, we will dance!”

Protests can be a difficult visual challenge for a photographer. By the end of the week, many of my colleagues and I experienced what we started referring to as “sign fatigue” from continually composing photographs that incorporate panels of text, or trying to find a way to exclude them to make another kind of picture. Demonstrations like this one, however, seemed to offer themselves to our cameras as something less interchangeable, something we could put more of our own eye into, and express another mode or mood of resistance than the ones that we spent the next two days and nights immersed in.

All images © 2017 Reuben Radding. Reuben is a New York City street photographer. He is an instructor with the New York Institute for Photography and his work is featured in his book, APPARITIONS: New York City Street Photographs. You can see more of his work on his website and on Instagram.

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