— Cross-posted at Social (In)Queery
The first time I remember glitter being used as an educational tool, I was in elementary school. All of the first through third graders were gathered in the auditorium. At the front of the room, an adult shouted for everyone to be quiet. She reached into a paper bag and pulled out a handful of gold glitter and asked for a volunteer. My hand shot up immediately. But she chose someone else. Asked if we liked glitter, we all screamed “YES!” in unison, and then she said, “Well not today!” I like to think that there was a dramatic pause here as we all gasped, but that may be how I like to remember the story. She let the glitter sprinkle back into the bag, but her hand was still covered. She asked the boy who volunteered to shake her hand and so he did. Then she got all of us up and asked us to walk around the room shaking hands with people. As you might expect, this got rowdy (as random handshaking parties are wont to do) and she stopped us all after five minutes or so. “Raise your hand if it has glitter on it,” she said. Almost all of us raised our hands. Then we all sat down and she talked at length about germs and diseases and the importance of basic hygiene. I think it was a lesson about health and hygiene generally, but I now like to think that it was sex education in disguise, and that the “handshake” was a metaphor. Either way, I will say this: I sometimes think about the exercise when I wash my hands (and when I don’t). If you’ve never had glitter all over you, take it from me, it doesn’t come off after the first wash.
The educational properties of glitter have been put to other uses more recently as well. Glitter-bombing has become a phenomenon across the nation as a way of peacefully and playfully protesting political pundits and candidates that support a particular constellation of anti-gay agendas. Glitter-bombing is a new form of protest that’s been directed at virtually all of the GOP candidates for this presidential race. The sentiment dates back to when the former-Miss-Oklahoma-turned-anti-gay-rights-activist, Anita Bryant, had a pie thrown in her face at a press conference.