Glen Pannell decided to put his eerie resemblance to Mike Pence to good use.
Pannell, a 51-year-old actor and theater director, had never took advantage of the fact that he's a dead ringer for the vice president-elect until this Halloween, when some friends encouraged him to go as "Hot Mike Pence."
But the costume didn't stay in his closet after October 31. After Donald Trump's shocking victory in the electoral college, Pannell decided to let the public meet his Republican alter ego, soliciting donations to organizations like the Trevor Project in the vice president-elect's name. If you were in Times Square last weekend, you might have seen Pannell stroll by wearing blue short shorts with a conservative suit jacket.
"I want to raise dollars and I want to raise awareness," Pannell told The Huffington Post. "And maybe offer some hope too. Isn't it nice to imagine a bizarre through-the-looking-glass alternate reality where there's a Mike Pence who champions women's health and LGBTQ rights and the environment?"
Although the two men share facial characteristics, that's about all they have in common. Pannell is gay, while Pence has opposed LGBT rights for his entire political career.
In 2015, Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as the governor of Indiana, which allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals based on their "sincerely held religious belief."After public outcry, the law was amended. During his 2000 run for Congress, he also advocated -- on his campaign website -- the diversion of funds from programs that provide life-saving HIV resources to conversion therapy.
"He was on my radar before the election not because he looked like me but because of his record," Pannell told People. "I have family in Indiana and knew about the 'religious freedom' bill. As a gay man, I stood up and took notice."
Pannell hopes to raise awareness about the vice president-elect's anti-LGBT history by starting conversations with the people he meets on the street. Not everyone has welcomed the dialogue. He claimed that one woman called him a "disgusting pig" while other passersby yelled at him to "put some pants on."
"If that's the best you can come up with, that's fine with me," Pannell said.
If nothing else, the Republican doppelganger has been pretty successful at fundraising for organizations that will need all the help they can get during a Trump presidency. Pannell raised $171.21 for Planned Parenthood and $171.21 for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental advocacy group.
Pannell added that the Trevor Project, for which he plans to canvass this coming weekend, is a group that's particularly "close to [his] heart."
"I was a questioning teen 35 years ago growing up on Long Island before I finally came out as a gay man in my early 20s," he said of the LGBT youth suicide hotline. "LGBTQ young people will need our full support over the next few years given Mike Pence's record in office. So much of what he's done in the last 16 years has divided and excluded -- not united."
After chatting with everyday people and discovering that they, too, share his concerns about the upcoming administration, Pannell has a message for the vice president-elect.
"If you could walk a mile in my short shorts, you would meet so many people who are afraid and unsure about the next four years because they see rising hate speech in the last four weeks," he said. "You say you love this country, you say you have great faith in the American people. If that's true, I'd say put your policy where your mouth is."