Mike Pence Has a Gay Look-Alike Raising Money for Planned Parenthood and LGBTQ Youth

Election '16

Glenn Pannell was casually strolling through Time Square when local photographer Howard Sherman, stunned by his visual likeness with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, snapped a few photos of Pannell and posted them to social media. Sherman’s followers soon identified the Pence doppelgänger, and what followed was a revealing interview in which Pence’s look-alike described his support for LGBTQ and other progressive causes posted to Sherman’s website. Pannell has since begun documenting his advocacy work on the Twitter account @MikeHotPence, and is quickly starting to rise to viral status.

Since the election of Donald Trump, Pannell (a 51-year-old graphic designer, according to BuzzFeed) dresses as the vice president-elect and roams Time Square asking for donations for several different causes, such as environmental protection, reproductive choice, and most prominently, standing up for LGBTQ youth, which makes sense since Pannell himself identifies proudly as a gay man.

There’s no shortage of delightful irony in Pannell’s advocacy for LGBTQ youth, since Pence himself has among the most uniquely awful records on LGBTQ rights as governor of Indiana. Pence went above and beyond traditional conservative opposition to gay marriage and support for “religious freedom” legislation by supporting the redirection of funding for HIV/AIDS organizations to gay conversion therapy.

Additionally, by defunding Planned Parenthood in his state, Pence helped cause an HIV outbreak in one county. But just in case you thought no trolling could be more satisfying than more than 72,000 donations to Planned Parenthood made in Pence’s name, check Pannell’s Twitter account — you’ll find photos of him looking gloriously Pence-like as he solicits donations for the Trevor project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth, and digital receipts of all his donations to the National Resource Defense Council and Planned Parenthood.

Pannell was just one of many who was moved by the election of Donald Trump to put himself out there and transform his disappointment into advocacy for the causes he cares about, although, granted, in a uniquely theatric manner. “The depression kept feeding on itself so I finally decided I had to do something, and it had to be bold and immediate, something I could point to at the end of the day and say, ‘Here’s what I did to make change,’” he told BuzzFeed.

“These are all groups and causes that suffered when Pence was in office, so I worry about them in the next few years under a Trump-Pence administration,” Pannell explained. And indeed, Trump’s administration poses a serious threat to the environment, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ rights. Trump has continually denied the reality of climate change and is appointing those who share his beliefs to critical cabinet positions. Trump is also slated to appoint abortion opponent(s) to the Supreme Court and oppose funding for women’s healthcare, while in his state of Indiana, Pence, again, defunded Planned Parenthood and also opted to transfer funding for poor families to anti-choice organizations.

As for gay rights, though far less vocal about this issue, you can bet Trump’s conservative SCOTUS appointments will be nothing but trouble for gay and trans cases the court will inevitably preside over, and Trump and Pence’s support for “religious freedom” is a recipe for discrimination.

But regardless, Pannell has tried to maintain a sense of humor and positive outlook. “Simply dressing up as Pence didn’t seem original. And then I thought there could be fun to be had with a sexy Mike Pence costume,” he explained to BuzzFeed. “I’m 51. I never expect anything I do to go viral online. I do understand why people respond to it. It’s funny, and it’s hopeful, and people need that right now.” We certainly do.

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