A prominent Minnesota gay ally activist made quite a stir Thursday night when he stormed a book signing hosted by the Minnesota Family Council and greeted the guests of honor–Newt and Callista Gingrich–with a box of glitter confetti.
“The book signing was part of a larger event with the Minnesota Family Council, who are the anti-gay group pushing the marriage amendment [to ban same-sex marriage]. The amendment passed the senate last week–shocked and upset.”
Nick Espinosa is passionate about getting attention for what he sees as an urgent issue facing the LGBT community.
As he poured the confetti over the top tier candidate for the Republican nomination for President, Espinosa shouted “Feel the rainbow, Newt! Stop the hate. Stop anti-gay politics. It’s dividing our country and it’s not fixing our economy.”
Gingrich reacted by saying “Nice to live in a free country.”
“I have a history of pulling these sort of stunts to call attention to the things I’m working on. I see this as part of the larger movement for gay rights, not just here in Minnesota, but nation-wide.” Espinosa’s sister came along to shoot video for the zap, and he involved several of his friends in the planning process, but Nick says that he was operating of his own accord.
“[My friends] let me bounce ideas of their heads, play with ideas and help with framing,” said the 24 year old former social worker and community organizer. “When I do something like this, there are always plenty of people there to lend a hand.”
This is not Espinosa’s first action of this sort. Last year he made news in Minnesota when he dumped $20.00 in pennies (approximately 11 pounds and 1 oz in coins) in the lap of Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer as the Conservative politian sat down for dinner at the Ol’ Mexico Restaurant in Roseville Minnesota.
“He proposed cutting wages on servers and bartenders because he said they ‘make too much money.”
At the time, St. Olaf College graduate Espinosa tied Emmer’s position to the larger immigration debate taking place in Minnesota, and saw the move as an attack on immigrants and other economically disadvantaged groups. Espinosa sees all of these as part of the same debate over human rights.
“With Newt coming into town–I want to be clear–after three marriages and three divorces, if Newt Gingrich wants to come to Minnesota and tell people who they can marry and can’t marry, we’re going to respond to this serial adulterer.
“Our generation–we’re not just the future, we’re the present,” Espinosa proclaimed. “[Conservative politicians will] find it harder to get elected if they continue to adopt anti-gay stances.”
Espinosa wants to leave all Conservative politicians with something to ponder.
“To Newt Gingrich and all Republicans using a strategy of pushing anti-gay hate, focusing on divisive social issues does nothing to unite our country and doesn’t help our economy–it hurts it.”
“Getting back to our roots”
“It was classic civil disobedience with a gay twist,” said Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, when reached for comment. “It delighted me to see our community react to these people like this. I was thrilled to see him say ‘stop the hate,’ or ‘stop the hate campaign,’ I think I heard. We need to shine a light on people who hate, not ignore, which is what this community does so often. But do it in a non-violent way.”
Mark should know a thing or two about Nick Espinosa’s brand of political theatre. In 1973, at the age of 19, Mark stormed the set of CBS Evening News, helmed by Walter Cronkite, and fourteen minutes into the broadcast America saw the young Segal sit on Cronkite’s desk holding up a sign saying “Gays Protest CBS Prejudice” in an effort to call attention to what he and his fellow activists of “The Gay Raiders,” believed was censorship of LGBT rights gain by the network. Segal went on to disrupt The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and The Today Show with Barbara Walters, helping bring visibility to the struggle for LGBT fairness right into living rooms across the country.
“When I heard ‘stop the hate campaign’ and when I saw the glitter, I put it together and I immediately knew it was a gay zap. And it warmed my heart. We’re getting back to our roots. We’re a civil rights movement and we need to use these non-violent civil disobedient tactics to call attention to these people. [Newt Gingrich] is a serial adultist, how dare he talk about morals the man has had three wives and three religions and he’s cheated on all of them.”
Nick Espinosa is becoming somewhat of a master of the attention-grabbing political theatre. During the Minnesota Gubernatorial race in 2010, The Minneapolis native faced off with Emmer several times. Aside from the infamous pennies incident, Espinosa also confronted the Conservative state politician at a debate with a Dora The Explorer doll to protest the Republican’s stated policies on immigration.
“That one was better than the pennies,” Emmer joked when the debate resumed.
Will we see Nick Espinosa and Newt Gingrich reunited again anytime soon?
“I only used two out of the three bags of glitter that I had. I might give the last bag to Newt for his next wedding. Its cheaper than Tiffany’s.”