My name is Densil Porteous I use he/they pronouns and I’ve had the honor serving as Executive Director of Stonewall Columbus since January 2021.
Stonewall has been an organization working to increase visibility, inclusion, and connection for the LGBTQ+ community across Central Ohio so that we all thrive since 1981; as a reimagined community center gifted to the community, the organization is only several years into that journey—having reopened in 2019.
I joined Stonewall as interim executive director, in the summer of 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, during America’s reawakening to the inequities and injustices enacted on Black people in our nation, and what was at the time reported to be the worst year on record for the murder of transgender and n0n-binary/gender non-conforming members of our community–a record surpassed in 2022.
In 2023 the United States has seen more than 1,000 LGBTQ+ focused pieces of legislation passing through our government of which more than 50% is anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, at least 15 reported murders of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and an increased displacement of LGBTQ+ seniors looking for inclusive living communities–all this amid the continued disparities facing Black and intersectional identities within the LGBTQ+ community.
In September 2023 the Stonewall organization recognizes 42 years in evolving service to the LGBTQ+ community across Central Ohio–working to increase visibility, inclusion, and connection. When the community’s LGBTQ+ service organization started Columbus, Ohio was the 19th largest city in the country. Today, Stonewall operates in the 14th largest city in the country—while our community has grown and continues to grow, some things have not changed.
As we consider the future of Stonewall Columbus, we know that our organization must grow and evolve to meet the needs of the community while existing in a new era of community service needs and expectations—we know we can work to meet those expectations. Our community is more diverse and intersectional, our community needs continue, and they have increased while becoming more complex; notably the economic resources needed to do the work of community support has increased as well.
Stonewall has been honored to host our annual Pride events; events that aim to make space for and bring community together—our Pride events represent our largest fundraising and funding effort in support of the Stonewall organization and the connections to resources and services we are able to provide for the community. Notably, in 2023 Stonewall Columbus saw over 22,000 registered marchers and welcomed roughly 750,000 people to the region over our two days of recognition and celebration of Pride!
As an LGBTQ+ community center in the 14th largest city in the country Stonewall Columbus has an opportunity, with help from the community, to truly be a model of community support and engagement—we have a responsibility to lead, and I believe we can. As a community, we have the power to influence how queer identities are understood and supported, not only in Columbus but all over Central Ohio and beyond. Those of us who can today have a responsibility to ensure the Stonewall organization is thriving for today’s generations and generations to come.
.Densil Porteous (he/they).