COLUMBUS, Ind. – It’s a historic moment in Columbus as organizers prepare for the first ever Pride festival Saturday morning.
High school senior Erin Bailey is at the helm. This event started as her senior project that’s now gotten national attention.
It’s a rare site as you take a stroll through downtown Columbus. A rainbow flag waving in the window of this wine shop and just a couple of doors down Dell Brothers men’s clothing store proudly displays they welcome the LGBT community.
But 18-year-old Erin Bailey wanted to take that welcoming attitude a step further in Columbus. So, she decided to put on the city’s first pride festival.
“Oh my gosh, it’s crazy honestly. I’m ready but nervous,”Erin said.
Erin says her goal was to change the narrative that Columbus wasn’t an LGBT friendly city. It’s the home of Vice President Mike Pence who has a long history of holding opposite views from the LGBT community.
“But he actually addressed me a while ago, so that was really nice of him. He said something along the lines of Vice President Mike Pence commends Erin Bailey for her youth activism.”
We talked to the co-owner of Dell Brothers clothing store. Tom Dell was vocal in support of LGBT rights when a Republican city council voted two years ago to extend civil rights protections to the LGBT community.
He says customers threatened to boycott his business. Ironically, Dell has dressed the Pence family for years and that’s where Pence’s mom bought his top coat he wore during the inauguration.
“The point of it is Mike’s from here that’s not the reason I think we’re having this festival I think it was just a festival it was time to have and it was a time for celebrations of people of diversity,” Dell said.
More than a thousand people on the Facebook event page say they plan to attend. Erin says the response has been mostly positive with a few negative comments. Columbus police will be on duty.
“We’re not planning for any trouble however we’re certainly cognizant that people might show up to cause problems,” Lt. Matt Harris said.
Erin says she’s focused on supporters.
“I know there’s going to be a whole lot more supporters than there are people against so I’m just going to surround myself with the good people and if anyone comes we just won’t give them any attention.”