In the massive cloud of controversy and challenges hovering over the Trump administration, an overwhelming majority of media and public attention has been allocated to the president himself, and the many problems facing his presidency. However, despite the fact that the public eye is primarily focused on Trump and his affair with Stormy Daniels, his record-breaking turnover rate in the White House, his irreverent comments and Twitter posts, or, of course, the ongoing Russia investigation, it is crucial not to forget the concerning behavior of other top officials in the administration. One person who has flown largely under the radar over the last year, is none other than the second in command, Vice President Mike Pence.
Although at the onset, the vice president faced a great deal of criticism surrounding his views on the LGBTQ community, much of the attention faded away in recent months. However, as Pence plans to spend his Easter holiday in his hometown of Columbus, Indiana, the timing for his return could not be more perfect and coincidental, especially considering the start of a new tradition that is likely to continue in the upcoming years.
As Pence makes his way back to Indiana, he will be greeted by the first ever pride festival that will be taking place in his hometown. Despite living in a fairly right-wing community, the LGBTQ movement have planned their first festival in Columbus not only to begin a new tradition for the city, but also likely to make a very clear statement to the vice president. Pence has become infamous for his narrow-minded views regarding same-sex couples and marriage, going so far as believing that conversion therapy is a viable option to what he evidently sees as a threat from the LGBTQ community.
KUDOS to Erin Bailey! Another young adult with positive change in the midwest. Celebrate the Gay Pride Festival by empowering their LGBTQ community. Progress one town at a time. AWESOME!
— Pomma (@Pommawolf) March 29, 2018
The idea to host the first ever pride festival comes from high school senior Erin Bailey, who has lived in Columbus her entire life, and was inspired to organize the event as her final senior project assignment for school. Despite the fact that the town of Columbus itself is fairly small, with a mere 50,000 person population, the support and momentum growing in favor of the event is showing to be quite impressive. Roughly 1,000 people have already either claimed they will be attending, or have shown interest in going to the event, according to the festival’s Facebook page.
The first ever gay pride event to be held in Columbus, Indiana is being organised by Erin Bailey, a high school student, who was inspired by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
— Edward Hardy (@EdwardTHardy) March 29, 2018
According to an article by USA Today:
‘Organizers hope the April 14 event also will send a message of inclusiveness from the hometown of Vice President Pence, who has a long record of being on the opposite side of issues important to the gay and lesbian community.
‘”Most people would think that all of us here are also anti-LGBT,” said Erin Bailey, the high school senior organizing the April 14 event. “But there are plenty of us who very much support the LGBT community and are members of the community.”‘
Erin Bailey, a Senior at Columbus Signature Academy-New Tech H.S. in Mike Pence‘s home town of Columbus, IN is planning their 1st LGBT Pride Festival on Saturday, April 14th, 2018 #ColumbusINPride
— The Mominatrixx🏳️🌈#NeverAgain (@TheMominatrixx) March 26, 2018
Despite his openly discriminatory stances against the LGBTQ community, a spokeswoman for Pence told media outlets that the vice president commends Erin Bailey’s activism and engagement, and that he is happy to see the youth in his hometown become involved in the political process. Yet, considering the extent to which Pence has shown his inability to come to terms with LGBTQ equality in all facets of life, one can’t help but think his show of goodwill is just empty rhetoric aimed at mitigating the situation.
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