Statement to Stonewall Columbus regarding the opening of their renovated center

Next month, Stonewall Columbus (SWC) will open their newly renovated Center on High, with their soft opening happening today (11/15). Throughout this last year, amidst SWC’s capital campaign to raise $4 million to build this center, they have continued to ignore voices calling for change accountable to their many communities. SWC has built their new center and programming exclusive of QTPOC, Black queer and trans folks specifically. They have used calculated, vague references to how they have grown from “the events that happened in summer 2017” to bolster their capital campaign and regain support while refusing to respond to the simple demands made by the Black Pride 4, BQIC, and other community members in the summer of 2017. SWC has refused to acknowledge that police brutality occurred at their Pride parade, and they refused to condemn the wrongful charges put on the #BlackPride4. Instead of simply responding to these demands, SWC has chosen to not engage with the fullness of the entire community and instead centers the voices they deem convenient and palatable. SWC has had ample opportunities to address the concerns of QTPOC and has been intentional in denying truths and erasing voices calling for inclusion and safety.

We want to make clear that BQIC refuses to allow our communities to forget the harm that SWC has put Black queer and trans folks through in this city. SWC actively worked in favor of the state to repress Black queer and trans bodies, and there has not been nearly enough work done on their end to repair that harm. The lack of cultural responsiveness indicates a continued inability to be a safe space for QTPOC at this time. Part of that work requires radical, transparent change within the organization, and that still remains to be seen to this day. We do not support SWC’s ongoing indifference in the face of issues brought up by marginalized people within their community, nor do we support the hushed changes ongoing in SWC, including the opaque hiring processes of their new Executive Director and staff members. We also reject other Central Ohio LGBTQIA+ organizations’ convenient lack of memory that allows them to support SWC at the expense of Black queer and trans folks and other QTPOC. By supporting SWC, you are complicit in our continued silence and oppression.

We call for true engagement that centers the needs of marginalized communities and that does not arbitrarily choose whose opinions are worthy of respect. We support grassroots efforts that put people over profits. We support collective work among individuals and groups who understand the connections between our struggles for liberation.

We hope that you devote your time, energy, and attention to uplifting the people who need it most instead institutions that ignore and endanger us.Tolerating the status quo has got to stop, and we must continue demanding better for our community so that we can all get free.