The intense attention focussed on the array of controversies and issues facing President Trump himself, and the detrimental behavior he displays in the White House, have allowed many other government officials and lawmakers to fly under the radar, to some extent. One person who may go unmentioned from time to time is none other than Trump’s second in command, Vice President Mike Pence. As the president continues to face an onslaught challenges, ranging from potential legal troubles, to severe backlash from the general public, Pence’s hardline, ultra-conservative, and discriminatory ideals sometimes go overlooked. However, when a major event does arise, the public is quick to remember those extremist views.
When Pence was first chosen to run alongside Trump during the 2016 elections, a myriad of articles and reports emerged outlining his far-right beliefs. One of the issues that rose to the forefront was has views toward the LGBTQ community, and the extensive biases he held against these citizens.
During his time in public office, Pence has attempted to suppress LGBTQ members in various ways, and has criticized them, whenever he’s been given the opportunity. He was a staunch supporter of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as lawmakers aimed to repeal it, wanted to allocate federal funding to be used for gay conversion therapy, and has gone as far as claiming that gay couples are a signaling for the collapse of a society. In the face of all these detrimental and discriminatory beliefs, however, one recent event shows that members of the LGBT community will not be intimidated, and are not afraid to take the fight directly to Pence’s home, literally.
On Saturday the city of Columbus, Indiana, Mike Pence’s hometown, was host to it’s first ever Gay Pride Parade, attracting crowds of more than 2,000 individuals, all of whom more than willing to brave weather forecasts that expected rain. The event, which began as a senior project from high school student Erin Bailey, drew a crowd ranging from teenagers to town officials. According to a report from the IndyStar:
‘Many festival-goers were teenagers, friends and classmates of the organizer. But a number of the town’s leaders were also in attendance, including Jim Roberts, the school superintendent, Cindy Frey, who heads the chamber of commerce, and Mary K. Ferdon, executive director of administration and community development for the city.’
This is @erindigsplants
— Dr. Donna “Cat 5” Noble (@DonnaNoble10th) April 15, 2018
Bailey’s event gained nationwide publicity last month as word began to spread about a pride parade being held in Pence’s otherwise conservative hometown, and far surpassed her expectations of the size it would grow to. Initially, Bailey had sought to close off just a single block of Washington Street for the event, but as the number of prospective attendees grew, asked the city for an additional block.
Columbus, IN. (Pence's hometown) held it's first ever Gay Pride parade. The rain didn't dampen anyone's fun:) pic.twitter.com/qf3ClKErbC
— Jane Reed (@kaslina) April 14, 2018
The well-organized event was complete with a high-octane drag show, a Mike Pence impersonator, and roughly three dozen vendors. Three of the vendor booths were set up by representatives from three Christian churches, including Disciples of Christ, Unitarians, and Presbyterians, all of whom looking to break the stigma that has erupted between churches and the LGBTQ community, and pushing a message of love and unity.
— Erin Bailey (@erindigsplants) April 15, 2018
Mike Pence, who expectedly did not attend the event, has not personally made any comment regarding the parade, although a spokesperson from his office stated previously that the vice president supported Bailey’s initiative. Regardless of Pence’s apparent silence, it is clear that the event’s success is a sign of optimism going forward.
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