Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Columbus, Ohio today to address the right-wing group America First Policies at a conference.
However, it also happens to be the weekend the city is celebrating Pride — and people made sure not to waste this opportunity.
The conference is taking place at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel. Outside, from 2-5 pm, activists and members of the community, greeted the VP with a ‘ Big LGBTQ Dance Party ‘.
GSN spoke to Tyler Dillon of Progress Ohio, who helped organize the event.
It started as a grassroots effort by activists when they heard Pence was coming to Ohio for Pride weekend. Progress Ohio became involved at the start of the week, helping with logistics.
‘For someone whose career has been built on discrimination against the LGBTQ community, we all knew that it was not okay for him to come in on Pride weekend,’ he says. ‘We wanted to really create this juxtaposition between this hate he spews and pride and showing love and solidarity.’
Dillon estimates about 2,000 people showed up, coming and going in waves. The popular Mike ‘Hot’ Pence showed up (seen above) and Dillon says he bussed in from New York, arriving around noon today.
However, when Pence arrived, he went into the hotel via an alley, avoiding the party. ‘We weren’t going to try and mess with the Secret Service,’ Dillon adds. “But the press coverage has been enough that he knows that it happened.’
Having a grand time
Below are some of the best photos from the event — and the turnout looks good.
People waving flags | Photo: Provided/Progress Ohio
People came out dressed in their best Pride colors and outfits, ready to both celebrate and protest.
Dressed in their best Pride colors | Photo: Provided/Progress Ohio
This drag queen made her point short, sweet, and to the point by wearing a dress reading: ‘Fuck Trump.’
Short, sweet, and to the point | Photo: Provided/Progress Ohio
Showing the love | Photo: Provided/Progress Ohio
Elsewhere at the rally, people brought voter registration forms. This November’s midterm elections is a huge opportunity for Democratic and progressive candidates to win key seats in Congress.
Registering to vote | Photo: Provided/Progress Ohio
While Progress Ohio is connected to many other progressive groups in the state, Dillon says people and organizations came out with voter registration forms on their own.
‘You think that people who attend these events are already political and registered, but it just goes to show to not have any missed opportunities.’
It’s hardly the first time Pence, whom the Human Rights Campaign declared as one of the ‘ greatest threats to equality ‘, has been targeted for his anti-LGBTQ stances.
TV host John Oliver and his team made a gay children’s book starring Pence’s pet bunny, Marlon Bundo . It outsold the Pence family’s own book about the rabbit.
Pence’s hometown of Columbus, Indiana held their own Pride in April , complete with Mike ‘Hot’ Pence yet again.
For this event specifically, Dillon hopes that Pence can take something away from it.
‘Even though Ohio was a Trump state, there is a powerful community for the LGBTQ community. It was because of Pence that we did this but our real audience was the community and Ohioans — and hopefully people across the nation — to show that there are people who love you and will be there for you.
‘For Pence, we want to show there’s serious opposition in Ohio. For everyone else, we want to show we have your back.’
Now Ohio’s Columbus is ready for Pride weekend and they’re expecting around 500,000 people.