The first Pride festival in Mike Pence’s hometown exceeded organizers’ expectations.
Erin Bailey, a high schooler in Columbus, Indiana, planned the city’s inaugural LGBT event as her senior project. The April 14 event spanned two blocks and featured 24 vendors, a drag show, and Pence impersonator “Mike Hot-Pence” posing for photos and taking donations for LGBT charities.
Most exciting for Bailey, though, was the turnout: Despite gloomy weather, more than 2,000 people showed up. Not bad for a town of some 47,000 people.
By fearlessly standing up for #LGBTQ equality, Erin Bailey is showing @Mike_Pence that Hoosiers won’t stand for his brand of discriminatory politics. @HRC was proud to join Columbus’s inaugural #Pride and prove that #LoveTrumpsHate. pic.twitter.com/OXMHX6vGOg
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) April 16, 2018
“It’s crazy. It’s awesome,” she told Indianapolis Star about the turnout.
“Most people would think that all of us here are also anti-LGBT,” Bailey (above) told USA Today in March, referring to the vice president’s record of anti-LGBT policies. “But there are plenty of us who very much support the LGBT community and are members of the community.”
Becky Gipson, who attended the festival with her wife, called the parade “an opportunity to send a message to Pence.” (She hopes to hold a similar event in her hometown of Lafayette, Indiana.) The vice president didn’t attend the festival himself, but a spokesperson claimed he was proud of Bailey.
“Vice President Pence commends Erin Bailey for her activism and engagement in the civic process,” rep Alyssa Farah said in a statement when the event was announced. “As a proud Hoosier and Columbus native, he’s heartened to see young people from his hometown getting involved in the political process.”