“This first time I was shocked, and now I’m even more mystified,” Diggs, 31, said in an interview as he headed to the airport to catch a flight to Los Angeles for an interview. “I’m blown away.”
Diggs, a Stafford County sheriff’s deputy, first reached Internet fame in August after dancing and lip-syncing to Beyoncé’s “Formation” at a back-to-school event at a Fredericksburg, Va., mall. The brief performance included Diggs doing a split in full uniform with his gun in tow.
The video has earned him some sustained local fame. Diggs recalled a time when he was at an Outback Steakhouse and a female patron had a seizure. Diggs and another man rushed to her aid. While they were helping her, the man asked him whether he was the dancing officer in that viral video.
“I looked at the citizen and I was like, ‘This is not the time for this right now,'” Diggs said.
On Friday, Diggs was invited to dance with students at a pep rally at North Stafford High School, where his fiance works. He performed a choreographed routine with the dance team, then broke out into a solo rendition of Beyoncé’s “Formation.” The students went wild and, yep, that video also went viral. It even earned a nod from BuzzFeed, which said, “This police officer dancing to Beyoncé will heal your soul.”
Now, he says, everyone calls him the “Dancing Deputy” or the “Dancing Beyoncé Deputy.”
Diggs has some theories about why his videos have been so popular on the Internet. The videos come at a time when the national spotlight is on law enforcement and discriminatory police tactics. His dancing in the community, he said, is an example of positive policing.
“The national spotlight on law enforcement, and the negative stereotype that law enforcement is bad — many people know that is not true, and they are looking for something that can justify their perception or thought process,” Diggs said.
On top of that, Diggs said he just loves to dance and was being himself.
A few days before the school pep rally, Diggs learned that his mother had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is gravely ill. He had planned to cancel the school event, but after he showed his mother some videos of his dancing, she encouraged him to continue his plans.
“It’s a moment that I will never forget. I connected with the students, and they connected with me,” he said. “I think that’s what we need in law enforcement, and that came through.”
Diggs also is a motivational speaker, discussing his abusive childhood, living in a foster home and being a black, gay man in law enforcement. He has had a lot more speaking requests since his viral fame, but he says he can’t accommodate all of the requests because he is focused on his full-time law enforcement career. He has served in Stafford County for eight years.
As for a third viral video? Diggs said he is not planning on that, but he is going to continue to dance, Perhaps it will happen again.
“None of this is for the attention, and it is not about being famous or being a celebrity. I love people, and I try to give back in any way that I can,” he said. “When I looked at viral videos before, I always thought it was staged. It was never the intent for it to become a viral video. I am truly just being my authentic self.”