What happened at 'Hamilton' last night says a lot about the kind of America we want to be.

History has its eyes on you, Mike Pence.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence wanted to be in the room where it happens. So he went to see "Hamilton" on Nov. 18, 2016.

But when Pence arrived at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City to see the critically acclaimed hip-hop musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, he was met with a chorus of boos and jeers (and, for the record, a few scattered claps).

Matthew Anderson, a theater buff visiting New York from Minneapolis said the display before the show was unlike anything he'd seen.

Pence was brought to his seat shortly before the show began.


"All of a sudden it was this rising, booing, general sounds of disapproval," Anderson said. "You couldn't miss it. Everyone in the mezzanine and the upper levels was standing up and craning over to see what was going on."

From his seat, Anderson heard mostly jeers and hissing, though one man yelled out, "We love you, Mike."

But once the show started, Anderson said things were essentially back to normal ... almost.

"Everyone was just in it, immediately," he said. Though the audience did respond with thunderous applause and cheers during certain moments, including Angelica Schuyler dreaming of including women in the founding of the country.

"I have to think it was a much bigger reaction than that line usually gets," Anderson said. "I'm sure it's usually warmly received, but this definitely felt like it was ... as much about who was in the house hearing the support for it."

Meanwhile, news of the brief but raucous display quickly spread to the internet, where a virtual debate fired up on Twitter: Was the audience right to boo Pence?

First, he's vice president-elect, and for some people, that was enough of a reason not to boo.

And vice president-elect or not, seeing a show starring people of color about an immigrant leading America to victory in the Revolutionary War and founding some of the nation's most sustaining institutions isn't a bad thing, right?

On the other hand, Pence has done little for women, people who are LGBTQ, and people of color — the very people starring in the show he happily paid to see.

With tensions high in and outside the theater, the cast of "Hamilton" came to the stage for their curtain call and read a letter to Pence as he left his seat.

Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr (a former vice president), called to Pence. According to The New York Times, a show spokesman said that Pence stood outside the entrance to the auditorium and heard the full remarks from the hallway.

The message, written by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, and lead producer Jeffrey Seller, with contributions from cast members, is worth a watch and read:

The key part is this:

"Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at 'Hamilton: An American Musical,' we really do. We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us — our planet, our children, our parents — or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again we truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations."

"It was the opposite of the audience reaction at the top, which felt very hostile and confrontational," Anderson said. "It was deeply respectful. It was warm, and it felt like it was very much in keeping with the spirit of the show we had just watched."

Despite the unifying message, Donald Trump couldn't help but get involved as the story continued the day after.

But here's what the president-elect, the vice president-elect, and all of us need to remember, especially in uncertain times: Dissent is not disrespectful; it's American.

In the United States, we can dissent, demonstrate, debate, and disagree without fear of prosecution or imprisonment. At least that's what our founders, like Alexander Hamilton, intended.

Those booing were voicing their frustration and displeasure at a man with a long and storied history of disrespect and outright wrongdoing toward traditionally underrepresented people.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

And here is his record.

Pence suggested women seek funerary services for miscarried or aborted fetuses. That's disrespectful.

Pence supported diverting taxpayer money to conversion therapy programs for gay and lesbian people, including children. And he suggested Congress oppose any measure that would put same-sex marriages on equal footing with heterosexual marriages.  That's disrespectful.

Pence slashed public health spending in Indiana, forcing a Planned Parenthood to close in Scott County, the one HIV testing center in the area. As intravenous opioid use rose, so did needle sharing. Pence opposed needle exchanges too. Soon, the county saw as many as 20 new cases of HIV each week. More than 200 cases were diagnosed before the outbreak ended. That's disrespectful.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Pence runs the transition team for a newly elected president who has yet to condemn those committing hate crimes and violence in his name on Twitter but has spoken out against The New York Times six times and the cast of "Hamilton" twice. That's disrespectful.

But people who disagree with him should keep their mouths shut when he steps out to enjoy a night of entertainment performed by men and women of color and led by a gay, HIV+, Latino actor? No. Not today. Not ever.

Disagreeing with Pence and others of his ilk isn't disrespectful; it's powerful and necessary.

Comparing a few minutes of hurt feelings with the systematic oppression and silencing of women, people who are LGBTQ, low-income people, and people of color is not just incorrect — it's dangerous.

The actions, decisions, and campaign promises of the Trump-Pence administration are not OK. They're divisive, hateful, and xenophobic. Standing up to toxic bigotry like that, by marching in protest, with calls to elected officials or boos in a theater is absolutely vital.

George Washington University students and others protest the election of Donald Trump at the White House. Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

And if the president-elect or vice president-elect have a problem with this, they can take a cue from "Hamilton" itself:

"'Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'
We fought for these ideals; we shouldn’t settle for less."
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Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

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The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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