Erin Bailey, an 18-year-old senior at Columbus Signature Academy-New Tech, spearheaded the event in Columbus, Indiana, which is located about 50 miles south of Indianapolis.
“Even though Mike Pence is openly anti-gay, that doesn’t mean that all of us in his hometown are,” Bailey, who identifies as bisexual, told HuffPost last month. “It is important for this event to be happening now so that others know that even in this time of hatred that is going on in the White House, we don’t all agree with it.”
“We want to show our support as an all-inclusive community,” she added.
Pence, the former governor of Indiana, did not attend the festival. However, LGBTQ rights activist Glen Pannell ― who has made a name for himself as “Mike Hot-Pence,” thanks to his resemblance to the vice president ― roamed the Columbus streets in his signature shorts and accepted donations for Indiana Youth Group, which provides support for LGBTQ youth in the state.
At Columbus Pride fest, and met Mike Hot-Pence (formerly reported as Sexy Mike Pence), of NYC, who’s walking around for photo ops. pic.twitter.com/AvbEFFfKB4
— Robert Scheer (@bobscheer) April 14, 2018
The celebration, Bailey said, was intended to fulfill a school project aimed at getting students to “explore endeavors that fuel their passions and to act as a bridge between [their] high school experience and his or her future goals.” She raised more than $6,000 for the event through an online fundraiser.
Among those to applaud Bailey was Jennifer Pike Bailey of the Human Rights Campaign, who said the pride celebration “proved once again that love trumps hate.”
“By fearlessly standing up for equality, Erin Bailey is showing Mike Pence, who has a long, disturbing record of attacking and demonizing the LGBTQ community, that Hoosiers won’t stand for his brand of discriminatory politics,” she said.
Check out photos of the celebration below.