Erin Bailey is not your typical southern Indiana student. The bisexual high schooler lives in Vice President Mike Pence’s hometown of Columbus, Indiana, and she’s sending him a message.
She’s hosting the town’s first pride festival as a senior class project – and hundreds of people, if not thousands, are expected to attend.
“I wanted my project to be big because I sat on the panels last year. They all seemed cool, but I wanted to do something that would impact the community in a really big way,” Bailey told LGBTQ Nation. “I thought doing a pride festival would do that”
She says that Pence “definitely” affected her decision to host a pride festival for the project.
“I thought since everyone else is like ‘Mike Pence is from here,’ typically it is a conservative community but the LGBT community is here too. I wanted to show them ‘You’re not alone. There’s others like us’.”
The community banned pride flags from flying in the downtown area that a local LGBTQ group paid to hang every year after Pence became Vice President.
Bailey mentioned the controversial decision as part of her motivation, but also admitted it made her fear how the city government would react.
“I was kinda afraid to take it to the city to get the street blocked off. But they were really supportive about it. Everyone at school is very supportive of my project as well,” she said.
“That’s why I was worried about taking it to the city. I kept thinking ‘Oh no. I hope they don’t tell me I can’t do that.’ Maybe it’s because I’m the youth in the community and they’re realizing that, you know, just because it’s Pence’s hometown, doesn’t mean we can’t do something.”
Bailey, who attends Columbus Signature Academy, also added that her fellow students aren’t big fans of the Vice President either.
“Everyone just kind of thinks he’s terrible,” she said. “They don’t like his views on LGBT rights and we don’t like his stance on abortion and Planned Parenthood.”
The event will be held on April 14 from 11am-2pm.