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Just a week after Vice President Mike Pence’s family book was outsold by a gay romance spin-off from John Oliver, the VP’s hometown is about to get a little queerer, too. A high school senior from Columbus, Indiana, is hosting the city’s first Pride festival.
Tasked with a senior project to wrap up her high school education, 18-year-old Erin Bailey wasn’t sure what to create. That is, until she was impressed by a nearby Pride film festival. She quickly realized that it was time for her city to host a Pride event of its own, especially because the vice president’s anti-LGBTQ shadow hangs over the city.
Bailey has since created a Facebook event for the Pride festival, and visitors can expect information tables, vendors, food, drag queens, and music, CNN reports. Over 200 respondents have marked themselves as going, with 500 more interested. Even Pence’s office acknowledged the festival, seemingly praising her for getting it together.
“Vice President Pence commends Erin Bailey for her activism and engagement in the civic process,” a spokesperson said, according to the Cut. “As a proud Hoosier and Columbus native, he’s heartened to see young people from his hometown getting involved in the political process.”
Bailey, meanwhile, is unimpressed.
“It’s nice he acknowledged what I’m doing, but I’m not sure how sincere it is,” she told the Cut.
This isn’t the first time Pence has faced the wrath of the LGBTQ community. During the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, openly gay athletes Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy both criticized Pence, with Rippon publicly refusing to meet the vice president. And prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, activists hosted a massive queer dance party at his house. Queer Americans are a force the vice president must reckon with.
Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.