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PHOTOS: The first gay pride parade in Mike Pence’s hometown was wild

The veep himself didn’t attend, but Mike "Hot" Pence did.

by Christianna Silva
Apr 16 2018, 7:00pm

About 2,000 people dressed in rainbow garb descended on Vice President Mike Pence’s conservative hometown of Columbus, Indiana, this weekend for a wild gay pride parade.

“It's crazy. It's awesome,” Erin Bailey, the 18-year-old who organized the event, told the Indy Star. She planned the event as her senior project, but her efforts quickly turned into much more than that — Columbus, a town of 45,000 people that cast twice as many votes for Donald Trump as for Hillary Clinton, had never hosted a gay pride parade before.

“I want others in Columbus to know it's an accepting place,” Bailey told Teen Vogue. The festival is for members of the LGBT community . . . more so than it is for people like Mike Pence or people who are intolerant.”

Erin Bailey (C) is introduced to the crowd during the drag show at the Columbus Pride Festival on April 14, 2018 in Columbus, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The city’s parade gained national attention because of Pence’s long history of opposing LGBT rights as the governor of Indiana, and now, the vice president. He pushed to keep marriage between a man and a woman while he was governor, as well as “license to discriminate” bills as both governor and vice president. Pence also reportedly drafted Trump’s policy banning transgender personnel from the military.

Ryan Halton (R) attends the first Columbus Pride Festival on April 14, 2018 in Columbus, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In a statement to USA Today, Pence's spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said the vice president commends Bailey for her activism and “engagement in the civic process.”

“As a proud Hoosier and Columbus native, he’s heartened to see young people from his hometown getting involved in the political process,” Farah said.

While Pence didn’t attend himself, Mike "Hot" Pence did. The impersonator, Glen Pannell, complete with a white wig, blue hot pants, and a rainbow tie, took donations for Indiana Youth Group, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that supports LGBT youth.

Glen Pannell, of New York City, is dressed as Mike "Hot" Pence at the first-ever Columbus Pride Festival in downtown Columbus, Ind., Saturday, April 14, 2018. (Mike Wolanin /The Republic via AP)
Glen Pannell, also known as Mike Hot-Pence, poses for pictures with other visitors at the Columbus Pride Festival on April 14, 2018 in Columbus, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The festival ended with a drag show — the first in Columbus, which is located about 45 miles south of Indianapolis.

Artist Oriana Peron performs during the drag show at the Columbus Pride Festival on April 14, 2018 in Columbus, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Artist Mocha Debeaute performs during the drag show at the Columbus Pride Festival on April 14, 2018 in Columbus, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Many of the people in attendance were teenagers and peers of the organizer, the Indy Star reported.

Residents and visitors attend the first Columbus Pride Festival on April 14, 2018 in Columbus, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Residents and visitors attend the first Columbus Pride Festival on April 14, 2018 in Columbus, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Residents and visitors attend the first Columbus Pride Festival on April 14, 2018 in Columbus, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

While this festival took the national stage with its close connection to the vice president, the vibe and trappings hewed to other gay pride parades: Bubbles, rainbow flags, balloons, and face paint were abundant.

Madame Marvelous, left, and Joe Varga blow bubbles while dancing at the first-ever Columbus Pride Festival in downtown Columbus, Ind., Saturday, April 14, 2018. (Mike Wolanin /The Republic via AP)
Sister Creama Tory, left, and Sister Merry Go Round, with the Derby City Sisters out of Louisville, Ky., take part in the first-ever Columbus Pride Festival in downtown Columbus, Ind., Saturday, April 14, 2018. (Mike Wolanin /The Republic via AP)

This article originally appeared on VICE News US.

Tagged:
VICE News
Donald Trump
LGBTQ
Gay Pride
vice president
mike pence
Columbus, Indiana