Mike Pence’s history of pushing anti-LGBTQ legislation is well-documented — but residents in Pence’s Indiana hometown want the world to know that the vice president’s bigotry is not the norm for their community.
High school students in Columbus, Indiana (AKA, the small town in which Mike Pence grew up) are organizing the town’s first LGBTQ Pride festival as a way of encouraging more inclusivity and distancing themselves from Pence’s conservative rhetoric.
“I am organizing Columbus Pride Festival because I feel it is important for members of the LGBTQ community to know that Columbus is a welcoming and diverse community,” high school senior Erin Bailey tells HuffPost. “Even though Mike Pence is openly anti-gay, that doesn’t mean that all of us in his hometown are.”
The festival is set to take place on April 14 in downtown Columbus.
While the festival is essentially meant to be a “f*ck you” to Pence’s politics, the vice president released a carefully worded statement in which he “commended” the young people in his hometown.
“Vice President Pence commends Erin Bailey for her activism and engagement in the civic process,” stated spokeswoman Alyssa Farah. “As a proud Hoosier and Columbus native, he’s heartened to see young people from his hometown getting involved in the political process.”
Pence’s vanilla response isn’t likely to appease the LGBTQ supporters in his community, though. Bailey says that the festival is meant as a signifier to the public (and the White House).
“We are so much more than just a small town that he grew up in. 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.”