Bernie’s Mittens Have Us Smitten. Meet The Queer Woman Behind Them

Whether it’s Senator Bernie Sanders joining the ladies of Sex and the City or outside our favorite LGBT nightlife establishments waiting for them to reopen (like most of us), we have all seen the viral memes of Bernie Sanders strolling into last weeks inauguration on a mission, documents gripped in his mitten laden hands. Those very mittens have now taken on a life of their own and the woman behind them, Jen Ellis, is getting requests from all over the world to recreate them. 

Photo Courtesy of Jen Ellis

Originally of Essex Junction, Vermont (where she lives with her partner Liz and their daughter) Ellis is a schoolteacher who up until now, lived a seemingly quiet life. This past week though, that all changed when Senator Sanders wore the mittens that she had specifically made for him. (Ellis gifted the mittens to Sanders in 2016, as Ellis’ daughter attends the pre-school that Sanders’ daughter-in-law Lisa Driscoll owns). Ellis completed her remote teaching for the day in the midst of a massive Vermont blizzard, and as she tells The Advocate, the moment she walked in the door her partner Liz simply said “You’re not going to believe this.” Of course, Ellis is now getting worldwide requests for mittens that replicate Sanders’ now iconic look, with Ellis simply telling Slate “I think my gmail has crashed now.”

Jen spoke to NPR about the mittens and the worldwide sensation that they have created. She said “I had absolutely no idea. I mean, this actually started about a year ago when he was wearing them on the campaign trail. And so there was some Twitter buzz then. … I’m so excited that he likes the mittens and he wants to wear them. They are practical and warm, and they look nice. And, yeah, I had no idea that this is what would happen.” As for whether or not this will change what her students think of her? She doesn’t think so, saying “I don’t think that they’ll view me any differently in the end. I still was bundling them up in snow pants and their own mittens and sending them out into the snowy day for recess just like half an hour ago.”

While Sanders may not have ultimately become the President of the United States, Ellis still celebrated the momentous occasion for our country and for women in particular, saying to The Advocate in part “…this is what we want you to see, a wonderful, successful woman and a woman of color in such a powerful position. It was great to share that with her and my partner who’s also a woman, so we’re just a huge feminist household celebrating this momentous occasion.”

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