On Friday Vice President Mike Pence will be visiting Columbus, Ohio, where he will be met by a large protest related to Pence’s notorious anti-LGBTQ sentiments and actions. Outside of Pence’s hotel there will be an event called “The Big Gay Dance Party”, which in addition to dancing, will also involve performances by drag queens and DJs. Friday is also the start of Pride weekend in Columbus.
Pence’s hotel isn’t just where he’s staying, it’s also where he’s speaking – about Republican tax law. So, the LGBTQ dance party outside will also be seen by everyone coming to hear Pence speak at the event sponsored by America First Policies, a conservative group that promotes the Trump administration’s agenda. One of the organizers of the protest event said that “a big, loving dance party” is meant to counter Pence’s anti-LGBT sentiments. According to The Hill:
Vice President Pence is expected to be met with LGBT activists, drag queens and a “Big Gay Dance Party” when he visits Columbus, Ohio, on Friday. The dance party will take place outside Pence’s hotel, where he is scheduled to speak about the Republican tax law, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Pence, who has long been criticized for his views on the LGBT community, is scheduled to deliver a speech at the Renaissance Hotel on Friday – which also marks the first day of Columbus’s Pride weekend. “Ohioans will protest Vice President Mike Pence…by dancing outside the hotel and performances including DJs and drag queens,” ProgressOhio, a left-leaning think tank, said in a press release obtained by the paper. The organization is co-sponsoring Friday’s dance party. “We want to counter that anti-LGBT attitude that they have with a big, positive, loving dance party,” Jay Smith, an organizer for the event, told the Enquirer.
Pence has a long track record of anti-LGBTQ bias, both in his rhetoric and in his actions as a congressman, as governor of Indiana and as Vice President of the United States. In addition to promoting anti-LGBTQ policies, Pence has treated world leaders differently based on their sexual orientation. A prime example of that is Pence’s treatment of the Irish Prime Minister (called the Taoiseach in Ireland). Last year in advance of St. Patrick’s Day, Vice President Pence met with Ireland’s prime minister in a traditional annual event; reporters were present at the meeting and pictures were taken, including Pence’s wife, Karen Pence. But this year Pence followed the tradition again, with one key difference – Pence did not allow the press in his meeting. Why the difference? Last year the Irish Prime Minister was Enda Kenny, but now the Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) is Leo Varadkar, who is openly gay. Treating people differently based on their sexual orientation is the very nature of prejudice. According to ADVOCATE:
The (dance) party is the LGBT community’s way of trolling Pence, who has a recorded history of supporting policies that harm the LGBT community as a congressman and as governor of Indiana. As governor he signed the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which opponents said would constitute license to discriminate against LGBT people and was eventually amended. In Congress supported amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, opposed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and voted against LGBT-inclusive hate-crimes legislation. During his term as vice president, he has reportedly been the architect of the administration’s anti-LGBT policies, including its efforts to ban military service by transgender people.
Other protests against Pence’s anti-LGBTQ bias since he became Vice President have included the very first LGBTQ festival in Pence’s Indiana home town, a Queer Dance Party outside Pence’s D.C.-area house, and being greeted by a “Make America Gay Again” flag flown by his neighbors when Pence and family was in Aspen, Colorado, over the Christmas holiday.
Pence may not like having these protests in his face, but most of the rest of us think it’s delightful. And, as protests go, who wouldn’t like, as organizer Jay Smith called it, “a big, loving dance party”? It sounds like a lot of fun.