COLUMBUS, Ind.– A Pride festival is scheduled in the hometown of Vice President Mike Pence next month and it’s all organized by a high school senior.
Erin Bailey, 18, said she proposed the idea in August for her senior project at Columbus Signature Academy New Tech High School.
“I wanted to do something that was really big,” she said. “I thought what is not happening in Columbus, what do we not have here?”
Her answer was to honor and support the LGBTQ community in Columbus with the festival.
“But also because Mike Pence is from here as well and he’s anti-LGBT and so just kind of showing the nation even though Mike Pence is from here and he’s anti-LGBT it doesn’t mean that us in the community are,” Bailey said.
Bailey’s mentor for the project is the president of Pride Alliance of Columbus Indiana, Jill Tasker. Tasker said she believes the festival is a first for the city.
“I think what Erin has done has really lit a fire under a lot of people in this town and across the country,” Tasker said.
The festival is gaining attention across the country. Bailey said she’s received requests from national outlets.
“It’s very hectic. I wasn’t expecting that. I thought it was going to be kind of small. In my original proposal for the project I said I think this senior project is going to be successful if lots of people come or even if just a few people come. I just want to be able to impact at least one person’s life,” she said.
Pence’s spokeswoman Alyssa Farah released the following statement to USA Today in reference to the pride festival: “Vice President Pence commends Erin 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.”
On the Facebook event, nearly 300 people have indicated they’d attend. Bailey said it will include a drag show, vendors and DJ. A city spokesman said there has also been a request to block off more of the street.
Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop released this statement on the event:
“Columbus has a long history and tradition as a welcoming community. Our City is proud to be home to persons of all backgrounds, including different view points, faiths, races, and sexual orientation, who bring with them a rich culture and diversity that benefits us all. These contributions have truly enriched our community in remarkable ways. We have a thriving economy, value community connectedness, and have an open appreciation for diversity of thought. As a community, we are proud of the work that Columbus Signature Academy New Tech High School student Erin Bailey has done in organizing this event as her senior project. When one community member succeeds, we all succeed! This is what makes Columbus the “Unexpected and Unforgettable” community we are proud to call home.”