Dianne Bruce and the Hidden Power of Compliance

Last Saturday, a crowd of activists gathered outside Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s ritzy DC mansion for a self-titled “Queer Dance Party for Climate Justice”. The event’s purpose was to send a message to the First Daughter that climate change and LGBTQ+ communities matter—but an unsuspecting star stole the show.

Ivanka’s neighbor, Dianne Bruce, was photographed watching the dance-protest from the steps of her own DC mansion, wrapped a huge fur coat and nursing a glass of white wine. Twitter users quickly grabbed ahold of the picture, proclaiming Bruce an aesthetic masterpiece. Others still championed her as a hero. “The neighbor watching the LGBT protest in front of Ivanka Trump’s house while drinking white wine is definitely invited to gay brunch” tweeted Gabe Ortiz.

While the photo of Bruce is undoubtedly fun, her internet fame has by far surpassed any coverage of the LGBTQ+ activists. Huffington Post, People, and a myriad of other popular outlets all ran pieces on Bruce, including one irreverent interview by Cosmopolitan. Cosmo asked Bruce what kind of wine she had been drinking—“a very nice Pinot Grigio”—and asked if she had any interaction with the Trump-Kushners—“I haven’t taken over any chocolate chip cookies for the children.”

The interview is all fun and games until Cosmo interviewer Rebecca Nelson asks Dianne if she agrees with the protestors. Bruce replies lightly, “See, that’s very hard […] I personally happen to be a relatively liberal Democrat, although I’ve been known to be a fiscal Republican.” On the one hand, this is a classy response. Especially living among politicians in DC’s Kalorama neighborhood, it certainly behooves Bruce to keep her political opinions to herself. However, Diane’s noncommittal response and, more importantly, the internet’s obsessive focus on her, silences the true reason behind the dance-protest. America is really is not in a place to focus on some woman’s fur coat and wine glass instead of the Trump administration’s not-so-sly actions to ignore queer Americans and deny the existence of anthropogenic climate change.

The point of the Queer Dance Party for Climate Justice was to recognize serious concerns through a fun and attention-grabbing method. The event was hosted in response to the Trump administration’s executive order to roll back Obama-era climate regulations. That a wealthy white woman with no outspoken stance on either climate change or the LGBTQ+ community stole the show is a disappointing but accurate reflection of how our society redirects its focus from potentially uncomfortable issues. It is much easier to bond over a woman sipping wine as protestors descend on Ivanka Trump’s house than it is to outwardly recognize institutional homophobia.

Difficult topics are just that—difficult. It is uncomfortable to recognize the oppression of others, as in doing so, you must recognize your own privilege. The virality of Dianne Bruce’s photo in contrast to the relatively minimal media and social media coverage of the dance protest exemplifies just how willing our society is to ignore difficult topics in favor of more easily digestible media.

Keep on sipping, Dianne. But remember that compliance to injustice is harmful in its own right. And maybe trade that fur out for a faux.