Gay pride festival is planned for Pence's hometown
© Greg Nash

Columbus, Ind. — the hometown of Vice President Pence — will hold its first LGBTQ Pride festival on April 14.

The event is being spearheaded by Erin Bailey, a senior at Columbus Signature Academy-New Tech, according to HuffPost. Bailey organized the festival as her high school senior project.

“It’s this massive undertaking and it’s political risky,” Samantha Aulick, who is supporting the festival, told The Hill on Wednesday. “We live in a conservative community.”

 

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE ❤️

A post shared by Erin Bailey (bean) (@erinlikesplants) on

Aulick has lived in Columbus with her wife, Alexa Lemley, for decades but has never seen an event of this kind before in their city of roughly 50,000 people.

“I am organizing Columbus Pride Festival because I feel it is important for members of the LGBTQ community to know that Columbus is a welcoming and diverse community,” Bailey told HuffPost. “Even though Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceSimon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp defends Pence book deal: report Gohmert says Jan. 6 mob attack on Capitol not an 'armed insurrection' House Democrats unveil .9 billion bill to boost security after insurrection MORE is openly anti-gay, that doesn’t mean that all of us in his hometown are.”

Pence has drawn criticism from gay rights groups for his positions as governor of Indiana and as a congressman from the state.  

As governor, Pence signed a religious freedom law that was criticized as a pathway to legal anti-LGBTQ discrimination. As a congressman, Pence supported a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.

Aulick and Lemley own Artisan Foodworks, a catering company and the only LGBT Business Enterprise in southern Indiana. They will be making rainbow s’mores for the event.

“I remember there were no lesbians when I was growing up,” Aulick said. “I didn’t know they really existed … So it’s important to us that the younger generation know that there are adults who identify as LGBTQ in their community.”

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The couple, who said they got married the first day same-sex marriage was legalized in 2014, said they hope kids in Bailey’s generation can feel more comfortable than they did coming out.

She insists the event will be more than just a gay pride festival, and will celebrate community pride. 

“Erin and members of her generation are active proponents of equal rights for all and they’re going against what they hear the adults talk about,” Aulick said.

Bailey told HuffPost she wants America to recognize Columbus as more than just the city Pence was born in.

“We are so much more than just a small town that he grew up in. It is important for this event to be happening now so that others know that even in this time of hatred that is going on in the White House, we don’t all agree with it,” she said. “We want to show our support as an all-inclusive community.”

In a statement, a Pence spokeswoman said Pence "commends Erin Bailey for her activism."

As a proud Hoosier and Columbus native, he’s heartened to see young people from his hometown getting involved in the political process," the statement reads.