Mike Pence's Pet Rabbit, LGBTQ+ Hero Marlon Bundo, Dies

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday January 19, 2022

Marlon Bundo, the real-life inspiration for the kids' book "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo," about a gay bunny who falls in love, has died, the New York Daily News reported.

"His death was shared over the weekend on social media by Charlotte Pence Bond, the former vice president's daughter, who wrote that the rabbit had been a gift from God 'right when we needed you most,'" the Daily News relayed.

Marlon Bundo, the Daily News recalled, "achieved global stardom in 2018 as an unlikely voice of support of LGBTQ rights" when a character named for the Pence's pet appeared in "a picture book by ["Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" staffer] Jill Twiss and illustrated by EG Keller about a gay bunny living with his non-gay grandpa Mike Pence — a staunch conservative and out-and-proud evangelical Christian with a long track record on opposing LGBTQ rights."

The book's publisher, Chronicle, declared the story was "dedicated to every bunny who has ever felt different." It was a very different take on the family pet, who was also the subject of "Marlon Bundo's A Day in the Life of the Vice President," a kids' book written by Charlotte Pence Bond, with illustrations by former second lady Karen Pence.

The proceeds from both books went to charities, as the Associated Press reported at the time, with the "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" book sales benefiting AIDS United and The Trevor Project, the latter of which combats LGBTQ+ youth suicide.

Karen Pence subsequently took a job teaching art at Immanuel Christian School, a private school that viewed "'homosexual or lesbian sexual activity' as among the disqualifying criteria for employees," the AP reported in early 2019.

In a fresh stroke of inspiration, The Trevor Project donated 100 copies of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo" to Immanuel Christian School.

Marlon Bundo achieved another notable distinction, the Daily News recalled, when the "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" book became "the second most banned book in 2018, according to a list compiled by the American Library Association."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.