Interim Executive Director Statement: Moving Toward Repair
Founded as an organization charged with “increasing the visibility and acceptance of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community.” Stonewall Columbus has existed in the Columbus community, in some form, since 1981.
In 2005, Stonewall Columbus purchased two buildings in the Short North in an “effort to create the first LGBT[Q] community center in central Ohio”; in April of 2007, the community center was named the Center on High, and in 2018 through a mix of public and private support construction was completed on a renovated and remodeled Stonewall Columbus Community Center at 1160 North High Street.
Stonewall Columbus worked with the community to establish space in the form of a center, a physical beacon and a symbol of our fight; along the way Stonewall Columbus became an incongruent steward of the community space—we had lost sight of the organization we strived to be: one for all. The community around us was changing and Stonewall Columbus had not recognized the change in the community; this discord came to an ugly head in 2017 with the Black Pride 4 when, as an organization, we made regrettably wrong decisions that did not effectively support black LGBTQ+ people in our shared fight for full equality in a moment when we must work to demonstrate all Black lives matter.
We acknowledge our sordid past; not always showing up as a safe space specifically for BIPOC and Trans people. In moving towards repair, these are the things we should be doing; so we’re going to do them. It is that simple. Stonewall Columbus today is not the Stonewall Columbus of the past and in a short time, we’ve taken strides to improve. We don’t seek praise for doing things we’re supposed to be doing, but we do welcome accountability to ensure we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.
Today Stonewall Columbus’ mission is to increase visibility, inclusion, and connection for the LGBTQ+ community so we see a community where ALL of US thrive. We affirm the Center on High is a community center for all the intersectional identities of the LGBTQ+ community and our allies and so we will work to open the doors.
Over the years the community has found refuge and space away from the Center, we hope they’ll return. Economics of scale support we’re more efficient together; matters of the movement show we’re stronger together.
I hope in swift time we are able to reclaim your trust, garner your support, engage a larger community, and bring key community partners and programs back to the Center.
Stonewall Columbus is not working to control a narrative; we’re working to elevate the platform from which the narrative is given. As stewards of this community’s center, we look forward to working with many of you and welcoming you all home.
Densil R. Porteous (he.him.his)
Interim Executive Director