Bearing rainbow flags and blasting Beyoncé tunes, about 200 protesters marched and shimmied toward Vice President-elect Mike Pence‘s temporary home in northwest Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night to send a message of unity.
The “Queer Dance Party” was organized by the groups Werk for Peace and #J20Disrupt, which have planned a variety of protest events in the days leading to the inauguration of Pence and President-elect Donald Trump.
“Dance is so integral to the queer community as a form of self-expression and a form of asserting our power and our beauty and our love for one another,” Firas Nasr, a 23-year-old protest organizer from Virginia, told the Washington Post. “The idea is to leave a mark that Mike Pence will never forget.”
He continued, “We want to send a strong message to Pence that we’re a united queer community. We’ve always stood united. There’s always space to dance.”
The group marched over one mile from their meeting point at Friendship Heights metro station to the Pence’s rental residence over the course of an hour, dancing to anthems from LGBTQ icons including Madonna and Lady Gaga along the way.
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Although it’s unknown if Pence was aware of the event, he spent the evening hosting the Vice President-elect’s Inaugural Dinner at the National Portrait Gallery.
“Great crowd at the Vice President-elect’s Inaugural Dinner. Honored to introduce & welcome special guest, President-elect @realDonaldTrump,” he later tweeted.
Pence faced widespread backlash when he signed a controversial “religious freedom” bill in 2015 that critics argued would make it easier to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Pence called those concerns a “misunderstanding,” saying at the time, “this bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”
Hoping to quell the nationwide criticism, Pence later signed a revised version barring businesses from denying services to clients based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.