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Are last month’s election results the sign of wins to come? Publisher Carol Clark reflects on the swinging pendulum of politics.


06 08 11 12

In Ohio, 17 openly gay and lesbian candidates were elected in November to city and village councils, school boards, and other local offices. Meanwhile, transgender candidates scored wins in five states.


As our nation processes and reacts to the stories of victims who are no longer frightened, shamed or intimidated into silence, LGBTQ women join the discussion about sexual harassment and sexual violence.


A sampling of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer commentary from across the web tackles topics from the U.S. Supreme Court to what the heck is on Justin Bieber’s bathroom countertop.


A sampling of what’s catching our eye around Ohio.


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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas as seasonal fashion is ho-ho-hot for the holidays!


Gay men’s choruses in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton will spread the joy of the season this month. But the groups all have roots in a time when standing up and singing out was downright radical.


Drag king Tianna Jones of Toledo: “What would probably be the most rewarding for me is being able to showcase two important and meaningful sides of me: my dancing and my gender expression.”

Michael Para, Teresa Long and Ronald Johnson all remember the moment they first heard about the mysterious new disease afflicting gay men. The three veterans of AIDS’ earliest days reflect on how far we’ve come.


Masquerage is all the rage in Dayton, HighBall Halloween dazzles Columbus, Plexus brings together LGBTQ professionals in Cleveland, and the OutReels Film Festival showcases LGBTQ stories in Cincinnati.


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Joel Diaz President Carol Clark Publisher Bob Vitale Editor Staley Jophiel Munroe Creative Director Nick Huskey Designer

New dad Joel Diaz reflects on the meaning of family for him, his husband and their baby daughter.



Bill Hardy Chief Executive Officer

Akron’s Sugar Plum Tour, Toledo’s holiday Gayla, Anne E. DeChant in Cleveland, New Year’s Eve in Dayton and more.


PRIZM Contacts: Prizm encourages feedback from our readers. Share your comments at For news consideration, event listings, letters to the editor, and inquiries about freelance writing, email For photography submissions and inquiries about modeling/styling assignments, email Prizm is searching for a full or part time account executive and editorial and social media interns. Should you have interest, please email

PRIZM @PrizmNews prizmnews

Fair and accurate reporting is critical to our mission. If you discover an error, please contact our editor, Bob Vitale, at • In the November issue of Prizm, we neglected to credit Dave & Kerri Photography of Toledo for a photo on Page 29 of committee members for the Holiday With Heart Gayla. • Also in November’s issue, we misspelled the name of Taylor Henschel, the cofounder of Cleveland’s Stonewall Sports. Address subscription inquiries to Carol Clark, Prizm Magazine 7575 Huntington Park Drive, Columbus, Ohio, 43235 © 2017 Prizm magazine. For permissions and questions contact

More information about the people and places in this issue.

December 2017 |


The Pen dulum Swings Publisher’s Letter

Since the unlikely outcome of the last presidential election, I have been re-energized to work on activism and advocacy on behalf of our community after years of comfort that social justice and civil rights for all were being passionately championed by the executive branch of our country. Naively, I thought we had “arrived.” The election last year jarred many of us. The months since have continued to stun us, as they have stunned people of color, immigrants, nonChristians and people at the intersections of those communities. LGBTQ rights are being challenged and, particularly, transgender rights are under assault. This November’s election felt like a warm summer day in the midst of winter. Racial and religious minorities, LGBTQ, female and refugee candidates picked up historic wins in local and state-level races across the country. Seventeen openly gay and lesbian candidates won their elections throughout Ohio. Equality won a battle in the long war for civil rights. Many members of the ill-represented communities in our country decided to throw their hats in the ring—and won—and are ready to serve all of their constituents, not just the majority. In this issue we cover the results of last month’s elections, and in the coming year we plan extensive coverage in our magazine and online of 2018 races, including those for Ohio governor, the General Assembly and Congress. I hope you enjoy this month’s Prizm, reflect on the positive change, and then return to activism, advocacy and perhaps running in a future election.

Carol Clark Publisher Prizm


| December 2017

December 2017 |



Top Row: Matthew Boettcher, Golf Manor; Jeremy Blake, Newark; Patrick Bravo, Akron; Danica Roem, Woodbridge Va.; Tamaya Dennard, Cincinnati. Second Row: David Donofrio, Columbus; Sean Fennell, Newark; Anthony Gomez, Cuyahoga Falls; Shannon Hardin, Columbus; Ryan Messer, Cincinnati. Third Row: Megan Kilgore, Columbus; Nick Komives, Toledo; Kerry McCormack, Cleveland; Ed Gorski, Olmsted Falls; Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis, Minn. Bottom Row: Jennifer Pauken, Minerva Park; John Rach, University Heights; Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati; Gary Wolfe, Scioto Township (Pickaway County); Phillipe Cunningham, Minneapolis, Minn.


| December 2017

By Bob Vitale Among the 17 election victories by gay and lesbian Ohioans in November’s local elections were political firsts in communities both large and small.

• Columbus City Council member Shannon Hardin won a new four-year term, finishing second in a six-candidate race for three council seats.

In Cincinnati, voters elected two openly gay City Council candidates: incumbent Chris Seelbach and newcomer Tamaya Dennard. Dennard will be the first out lesbian and also the first black openly gay elected official in Cincinnati.

• Anthony Gomez was the first openly gay candidate elected to the school board in Cuyahoga Falls.

In Columbus, City Auditor-elect Megan Kilgore was the first openly gay candidate elected to one of the city’s three executive offices. Newark voters also elected two openly gay City Council members—incumbent Jeremy Blake and newcomer Sean Fennell—and the first openly gay school board members were elected in Cincinnati, Cuyahoga Falls and suburban Columbus’ South-Western school district. Meanwhile, south of Columbus, Ralph Wolfe became the first openly gay candidate elected to office in rural Pickaway County. He won office as a trustee in Scioto Township. Ryan Messer, a Cincinnati property developer and political activist who won a Cincinnati Board of Education seat in his first campaign for elected office, says the success of LGBTQ candidates—eight openly gay and lesbian people ran for office in Hamilton County, and four were elected—is remarkable for two reasons. “While we celebrated it within our community, it was hardly an issue in the election process,” he says. “Voters made their selections based on who was best for the job ahead. I truly believe who I was married to was just about as important to voters as the color of my hair. “Now that is a step forward.” The results from November for LGBTQ candidates across Ohio: • Incumbent school board member Patrick Bravo won re-election in Akron. • Messer was the top vote-getter among 13 school board candidates in Cincinnati. • Seelbach finished third and Dennard finished sixth in a field of 14 Cincinnati council candidates. The top nine were elected. • Kerry McCormack, appointed last year to fill a vacant Cleveland City Council seat representing Ohio City, Tremont, Downtown and other neighborhoods in the city’s Ward 3, defeated challenger Logan Fahey with 85 percent of the vote. • In her race for Columbus city auditor, Kilgore received almost 70,000 votes, which was 77 percent of the total cast.

• Matthew Boettcher was retained by voters to the Village Council in the Cincinnati suburb of Golf Manor. He was appointed to the council this year. • Jennifer Pauken, one of two openly gay Village Council members in the Columbus suburb of Minerva Park, was the only incumbent up for re-election and won a new term. • Blake and Fennell were unopposed in their races for City Council seats in Newark. • In the Cleveland suburb of Olmsted Falls, City Council member Ed Gorski won a full term. He was appointed in March to replace council member Jay Linn, who posted an anti-transgender sign outside his business and then resigned when the mayor proposed an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law. • In addition to being the first openly gay elected official in Pickaway County, Wolfe says he thinks he also is the first non-farmer elected as a Scioto Township trustee. • David Donofrio was elected to the Board of Education for South-Western City Schools, which is the sixth-largest district in Ohio and covers the western and southern suburbs of Columbus. • Equality Toledo Executive Director Nick Komives won a seat on the Toledo City Council. He’ll be the first openly gay council member since 2006. • John Rach, who was appointed to the University Heights City Council in January 2016, was retained by voters. Two notable allies of the LGBTQ community also won election to local offices in November. In Cincinnati, a former Catholic high school administrator who was fired in 2013 for refusing to retract a personal Facebook post he made in support of marriage equality was elected to the Cincinnati Board of Education. Mike Moroski, who now leads a nonprofit that helps homeless children, will join Messer on the public schools’ board.

Trans Candidate Defeats Virginia’s ‘Chief Homophobe’ The question from MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell was teed up perfectly for Danica Roem, who had just become the first openly transgender candidate ever elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. On Nov. 7, Roem defeated 13-term Republican incumbent Bob Marshall, the proud sponsor of so many antigay and anti-trans measures that he once called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe.” What was it like, O’Donnell asked, to run against and defeat someone so hostile to you and your community? Roem took the high road and talked about upgrades to a local highway. “Starting next year, Bob Marshall will be one of my constituents, and I`m not going to attack my own constituents,” Roem told O’Donnell. “I think if there is any lesson that comes out of the race this year, it`s not attacking your constituents, singling them out and trying to make people feel bad about themselves.” Roem’s victory was one of five scored by transgender candidates across the country. In Minneapolis, Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham became the first black, openly transgender Americans elected to public office with victories in two City Council races. (Massachusetts state Rep. Althea Garrison was outed as a trans woman after her 1992 election.) Lisa Middleton was elected to the City Council in Palm Springs, Calif., and Tyler Titus was elected to the school board in Erie, Pa. Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said: “2017 will be remembered as the year of the trans candidate.”

In Toledo, attorney Nicole Khoury, a member of the Toledo Pride board, was elected as a judge on the Toledo Municipal Court bench. Bob Vitale is the editor of Prizm. He has covered government and politics at the federal, state and local levels for 25 years. @Bob_Vitale Danica Roem December 2017 |


#Lesbians, Bi & Trans Women Too Our nation, we hope, is learning much-needed lessons right now about the humiliation, trauma and physical harm endured by those who are subjected to sexual harassment and sexual violence. Brave women (and a few good men) have spoken out about the acts of famous and powerful men who once intimidated them into silence. Women around the world have shared their own experiences via social media with the hashtag, #MeToo. Lesbians and bisexual and transgender women who are targets often face the added insult of ignorance about their identity and the added injury of hate-fueled violence. We asked several women of the LGBTQ community to address the issue.

Small Violences By Celina Nader High school found me tongue-tied and ambivalent, so I plastered a smile on to my face. I smiled as he frowned, I smiled as he kissed me without closing his eyes, I smiled through hands rough on my skin and words cold in my ears. I smiled even when he said he hated my favorite boots. I smiled as he left me in his room to continue dressing, smiled when he came back in with his friend, Greg, without knocking, my dress barely zipped.

supervisors, a 32-year-old man, walked over to me and stood within inches of my body, staring at me until I looked up.

When I was younger, I thought maybe because I wasn’t sure about what I wanted, it was OK for men to take advantage of me, to disregard my wavering words and continue.

About a year ago, the girl I was dating, Amanda, took me to her family’s lake house in Michigan. One afternoon we met up with some of her friends to go to the beach. We were having a great time joking and laughing until one of her male friends asked us, “So who’s the man in your relationship?”

At age 17, I worked in a restaurant, whipping up sauces as a line cook on weeknights and greeting people as a hostess on weekends. One evening I arrived to work wearing a nice black dress and ballet flats. As I clocked in, one of my


| December 2017

He looked me up and down before remarking, “Don’t you think that dress is too slutty for work?” He walked away laughing. As I matured and eventually identified as a lesbian, I learned that some men would still find ways to wrangle themselves into my relationships.

Laughter continued, as it always does. Amanda and I retorted, but it sounded defensive. The conversation moved forward without much pause.

Coming out to my Arab, Christian, conservative family has been a trying task. I anticipated the pushback, the disgusted looks and the guilt piled onto my head. I did not expect, however, the insistence that I just needed a good man in my life. When I told my cousin that I was dating a woman, he seemed supportive. He asked a lot of questions. He told me that he didn’t have a problem with it, but at the end of the conversation he decided to point out, “I’m not convinced that you’re 100 percent not straight. You haven’t dated enough men to make that conclusion. Just my opinion.” I tried to explain that sexuality is a spectrum, that I’m fairly sure, that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, that I am not obligated to convince anyone of anything. He settled on reiterating that I might find the right man in the future and change my mind. Just his opinion.

This autumn, I sat laughing outside with my friend Alejandra and her group of friends, celebrating her birthday. They were all new faces to me, and most of them introduced themselves with a handshake or a hug. We sipped on drinks and exchanged funny stories. I got a comment from Alejandra about how beautiful my breasts looked, the kind of comment that’s really only OK when it comes from a close friend or a lover. I thanked her and gave her silly wink. As the night came to a close, a guy at the end of our communal table stood up to leave. He wished Alejandra a happy birthday, bade his friends farewell, then came closer to me. He had not introduced himself to me. He had not engaged in conversation with me. He had barely acknowledged me, and I was OK with that, until he came closer with his eyes fixed on my chest. “I don’t know your name, but I have to tell you that you have an incredible bosom.” He turned and left, leaving me withering under a spotlight I did not want, as if his comment was a compliment I was waiting for all night. Nader, my friend’s brother, stayed with us last summer. I invited him to go to Home Depot with me once, just to get him out of the house. He obliged and we went on our way. While there, I picked up a couple of bags of soil. He immediately tried to take them from me, insisting, “You don’t have to carry those.”

I did not expect...the insistence that I just needed a good man in my life.

One could say that I’ve been lucky. I have to think hard to find instances of sexual harassment in my life. It takes effort to think of examples, of phrases, of inappropriate touching and looks and gestures. The ones I recall here seem insignificant in relation to the countless acts of cruelty and violence against women that occur every day. But perhaps the diminutive nature of them is where much of the violence lies. Violence exists in the action that is easily dismissed. When I tell friends about the young man who picked me up against my wishes in a show of masculinity, they laugh. I am not supposed to be angry about that, it’s just a joke. I am being dramatic. I can’t take everything so seriously. I should lighten up. In other words, it’s better to laugh along than to speak up. And we do. Women endure sexual harassment on a daily basis from strangers and loved ones alike. It’s only human nature that we immunize ourselves to the point of acquiescence. What we’re left with is a society that believes it’s OK for men to assert their dominance within the format of humor, because such small wisecracks can’t possibly be cruel. And therein lies the brutality of “harmless” comments. They silence us with their supposed playfulness. They destroy our calm reasoning with laughter. In the amount of time it takes to change a conversation, harassment melts into a joke. The power of my objection loses to the quiet violence of dismissal. Celina Nader is a Syrian-American writer, chef and entrepreneur from Columbus.

I told him I could carry them just fine. As I checked out, he tried to take them again. Again, I told him no. We walked out of the store and he proceeded to pick me up, bags and all, and carry me all the way to my car. I protested the entire time. He did not listen. Finally, he put me down triumphantly and said, “Don’t worry, you can tell your girlfriend that you carried the bags yourself.”

December 2017 |



Without a

By Amber Rutledge

Transitioning is supposed to be a freeing experience, and I can remember the excitement I felt when I finally decided to embrace the woman I had always been within.

I reached out to a man I had been corresponding with for quite some time. I explained to him via text what had happened, and he offered me a place to stay until I figured out what I was going to do.

But excitement faded quickly with relentless scrutiny and harassment, including from my LGBTQ family.

Reluctantly, I accepted his offer. He reassured me he just wanted to be a friend and help.

It’s shocking that sexual harassment would come from the very people who are supposed to support you on your journey. But it happens, even if it is sometimes unknowingly.

He greeted me with a warm welcome and a tour of his place. First red flag: He failed to inform me that he lived in a studio apartment and that we would be sharing a bed. Against my better judgment and out of sheer naiveté, I ignored the signs and hoped selfless kindness still existed.

Straight men see me as an experiment, treating me like an eighth-grade science project or some conquest. Cisgender women behave with a sense of confusion, disgust and jealousy. Gay men think it’s OK to grab my breasts and ask extremely personal questions, as if I’m a character in a costume. Obviously, not everyone behaves this way, but the pain I have endured from gender-shaming and false hope of acceptance has made me at times reclusive, depressed and, worst of all, questioning of my very existence. The strength I possess is both a positive and a negative. Strength can give the impression that I can’t be harmed by the actions of others. People who seem strong and confident often shy away from speaking up about sexual harassment out of fear they will be viewed as weak or undeserving of sympathy. I recall one of the most painful and helpless moments of my life. I had recently moved to L.A., and things weren’t going so well. I had been robbed and had no money, nowhere to go and nothing more than a half-empty suitcase.

We shared a small meal over awkward conversation. The entire time, I couldn’t shake the feeling I was making a huge mistake. Then it was time for bed. I walked to the bathroom. I felt like I had been brushing my teeth for an hour as my hearted pounded. He called for me to hurry. I found him waiting for me in bed. I crawled in fully clothed and curled my body into a fetal position with my back facing his. As I lay in dark silence, I began thinking I might have overreacted. The thought lasted less than a second. I felt a hand massage my neck and slowly move down my back. I could neither move nor speak. The touching stopped, and I felt a moment of relief. He got out of the bed, walked around to my side and told me to take off my clothes. He said I was stressed and needed a full body massage. The outspoken girl I knew diminished in that moment. I trembled as I undressed and laid back down with my face buried in the pillow. He told me to turn over. Tears began to roll down my face. Why couldn’t I speak? I still, to this day, can’t answer that question. This I do know: No one should ever be made to feel hopeless and without a voice. Amber Rutledge is a native of Cincinnati, where she attended the School for Creative and Performing Arts and the University of Cincinnati. Her mission is to be a beacon of hope for the trans community.


| December 2017

Biphobia Fuels Sexual Assualt and Violence By Merisa Bowers Biphobia—the fear, hate, bias, distrust or negative attitude toward bisexual people—contributes to violence endured by the bisexual community. Insidious and persistent prejudice permeates gay and straight culture alike, alienating people who are, behave as or think they might be bisexuals. And it has real consequences. According to studies compiled last year by a national task force, bisexual people experience higher rates of intimate partner violence, domestic violence and sexual assault than gay men, lesbians and those who are straight. A 2013 report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 60 percent of bisexual women and 37 percent of bisexual men reported experiencing rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. Compare those numbers with other communities: 43.8 percent of lesbian women, 26 percent of gay men, 35 percent of heterosexual women and 29 percent of heterosexual men. Under President Barack Obama, the White House identified the high prevalence of rape as a serious public health problem for bisexual and transgender Americans. According to the CDC, 46 percent of bisexual women have been raped, nearly triple the rate experienced by lesbian and straight women. One study found that bisexual men experience rape at a higher rate than gay and straight men. Another found that more than 25 percent of transgender people had been sexually assaulted after

the age of 13. And bisexuals often don’t receive the support they need when seeking help after sexual assault. Studies find that bisexual women report the lowest rates of satisfaction with social services. Bisexual women also have higher Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and more depressive symptoms after sexual assault. The severity of the problem is belied by the lack of funding and specific resources available to the bisexual community. It is imperative that the LGBTQ community, as well as social service organizations that serve the LGBTQ community, become aware of the needs and risks faced by the bisexual community. That includes confronting biphobia within ourselves and our organizations. Biphobia, like other biases, precipitates a sense of entitlement or superiority in the dominant social group. We must challenge and dismantle this and develop in its place a culture of respect and bodily integrity and autonomy. Unless and until this respect extends to non-monosexual identities and behaviors, our community will continue to suffer from violence, sexual assault and nonconsensual behavior. Merisa Bowers is a Columbus family and criminal defense attorney who grew up in Canton, earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Cincinnati and her law degree at Case Western Reserve University. She is the cofounder of Bi Local.


A sampling of LGBTQ commentary from around the web Photo via Facebook

In one of my son’s favorite video games, an artificial intelligence system promises the player cake if she completes various challenges. As the player proceeds through the game, however, she finds graffiti claiming “The Dana Rudolph cake is a

ho th ma o eN s m ew s


T ric ds E . a R .c Re lle E Eric

The Trump administration has similarly revealed the lie of its promised friendship—its “cake”— to the LGBTQ community. … The latest confirmation of the administration’s true intent

… A case before the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether a baker has the right to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples—a case that could have ramifications for other businesses and organizations.

an arresting true-to-life snapshot. Today in bathroom selfies: Justin Bieber. Last week, the artist Justin Bieber shocked the world with the reveal of his new full chest tattoo. … His new look was a busy

menagerie, an intersection of ideas, impulses, and youthful passions. It was so much, in fact, that we may have overlooked the most crucial part of the reveal: Justin Bieber’s bathroom is full of a bunch of random stuff that doesn’t make any sense. Photo via Instagram

It seems clear that (Kevin) Spacey, regardless of how he identifies, is clearly bi. Throughout his life, he has not only had sexual, but as he states, romantic relationships with men and women. ...

God knows he’s the last person right now I want to claim as bi. … But if we’re taking what he tweeted at face value, then the unsavory truth is right in front of us: Spacey is most likely bi.

gay man. … It’s his notion

Now, however, he is “choosing” to live life as a

bi folks to just “choose a

of choice that I find so worrisome. I worry that gay people who condemn Spacey for saying he “chooses” to be gay will then turn around and tell side” already.

Photo via Facebook

Monica Roberts TransGriot

(Transgender candidates showed) our right-wing opposition … that pushing anti-trans hate for electoral advantage may not be a wise political strategy. A growing list of Republican ex-politicians including Pat McCrory (North Carolina),

am gh in r ) B ppe om c Da on. i

Ashle ig I Dre h (B a qwe m o ing ar fa f sh

revolves around actual cake.

Photo via Facebook

The bathroom selfie (also known as the third Tinder pic or the “U up?”) is one of modern art’s most expressive forms. The garish light, the toothpaste speckled mirror, the concentrated grimace all contribute to a milieu that offers

Zachary Zane Good Bi Love


lie,” and it becomes clear that the AI is stringing her along with malicious intent.

Debbie Riddle and Gilbert Pena (Texas), Lee Bright (South Carolina) and now Bob Marshall (Virginia) are real time examples of transphobia costing you your political career. You also sent a positive message to our trans kids that helps expand their horizons

concerning what is possible for a trans person born in the U.S. You 2017 trans candidates, whether you spectacularly won or narrowly lost, sent the message to our trans kids that one day, should you decide you wish to go into politics, you too can run and win public office. Photo via Facebook

Think of any lesbian or queer characters you’ve ever seen on TV or in a movie theater. Carmen, Carol, Kat or Adena, Alex Danvers? Out lesbians or queer actors? Not a one.

… Samira Wiley of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Lea Delaria of “Orange Is the New Black” and “Master of None” writer and actress Lena Waithe are some of the only on-going authentically queer female portrayals available on mainstream entertainment.

Interestingly enough, each of these examples is a binge-watching Netflix series. This means long waiting periods between seasons where queer audiences are left to resort to more mainstream shows to pass the time. It’s just not enough. December 2017 |


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| December 2017



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J December 2017 |


A Family’s


s m a e r d s, s for e p o h r '’Oud aspirationaround an all center . her one thing s.’’ nes i p p a h Her

A new dad reflects on the meaning of family for him, his husband and their baby daughter.

Photo by Staley Munroe

By Joel Diaz It’s been seven weeks since my husband Craig and I welcomed our daughter Izzy into the world. Since then, our days have been a whirlwind of diaper changes, late night feedings and sleeping whenever possible. At 6 a.m. each day, I walk into Izzy’s nursery to start her day. Our morning ritual involves me waking her by singing “Las Mananitas,” the Mexican birthday song. The line, “Despierta, mi bien, despierta, mira que ya amanecio,” which translates to “Wake up, my dear, wake up, it is already dawn,” seemed like the perfect way to let her know the day had begun.

closer together. As we traveled up the coast, we shared stories, opened up about our deepest feelings and bonded over our shared dreams and life goals.

join us. During the speeches that night, everyone talked about the chosen family we had built in our lives and how we had created something truly special.

The trip was a defining moment in our relationship and one where we quickly understood how important it was to both of us to start a family someday.

Little did we know this would play out again in our adoption journey two years later.

As she opens her eyes to look up at me, yawns and stretches her arms, I can’t help but reflect on all that has brought us to this point and all that our family has to look forward to together.

Family can have different meanings to different people and communities. I grew up in Houston as the youngest of seven and was raised by parents who immigrated from Mexico. My husband, Craig, grew up in a small family in a small community just outside of Cincinnati. Yet his experiences are similar: family picnics, special holiday memories and quality time together.

When Craig and I first started dating almost five years ago, we went on a road trip along California’s State Route 1, beginning in San Diego and heading up to San Francisco. As one might imagine, being crammed in a car with someone for 11 days can bring two people

For many in the LGBTQ community, we also have our “chosen” families. Something I personally had never given much thought to until our wedding a couple of years ago. We opted for a destination wedding and were surprised to have 50 of our closest friends


| December 2017

Right after our wedding, we were introduced to our now good friends, Jim, Derek and their son, Owen. Over the course of getting to know them, they shared advice and insight to help us move forward with the process of adopting a child. We opted to follow their lead by selecting the Choice Network, one of a few adoption agencies that have received a certification by the Human Rights Campaign. As two openly gay men, selecting the right agency was very important to us. Despite the progress that had been made with marriage equality, we wanted to make sure we chose an agency that made us feel welcomed and comfortable. The Choice Network has been an incredible

partner in our journey to start a family. It was through them that we were matched with Charlotte, our birth mother, and her family. We first met Charlotte and her mother at one of her early doctor visits. The physician performed an ultrasound and we got to bring home one of the first images of Izzy, no bigger than a tadpole at that time. This was one of the many amazing experiences we got to share over the next five months as part of Izzy’s development. We feel incredibly lucky to have been matched with Charlotte and her family. As part of our adoption process, we indicated a desire to have an open adoption. It has only been since the early 1990s that a majority of adoption agencies have offered this option, which we’ve discovered is understood by very few people. Open adoption allows the birth family to remain in contact with an adopted child so there is a continued connection for everyone involved. In a closed adoption, there is practically no information or contact between a child and his, her or their birth family. Because Charlotte lives in Michigan, we relied extensively on text messaging with her and her mom to stay in touch about her pregnancy and Izzy’s development. We’ve continued to use our almost daily updates to share with Charlotte and her family Izzy’s development and growth.

Photos of Izzy courtesy of Joel Diaz.

We quickly learned there’s no guide for how open adoptions should work. Every set of families will develop their own relationships, but we are firm believers in the saying, “You get what you put in.” Charlotte and her family put all of themselves into this adoption process and so did we. What we’ve ended up with is another chosen family we call our own. I get teary-eyed thinking of Izzy as an adult. Our hopes, dreams and aspirations for her all center around one thing. Her happiness. We take solace in knowing she has an incredible “chosen family” that will love and support her like they have done us. About 135,000 children are adopted each year in the United States. I encourage other LGBTQ families to learn more about their options to start a family. So far it has been one of the most amazing experiences of our lives.

Joel Diaz is the chief marketing and community affairs officer for Equitas Health, the LGBTQ-centered healthcare network and publisher of Prizm. He and his husband, Craig, welcomed Isabella Ann Diaz—Izzy— into their lives on Sept. 21. @jdiaz007

December 2017 |


y a G r “Ou

l e ” r a p Ap

Prizm partnered with THREAD boutique and SAMSON: A Men’s Emporium to bring you five fresh fashion personalities for the holidays! Gather with your loved ones in comfortable, cozy looks as full of presentation as your festive decorations. This is a season for rich reds, deep navy and sparkling metallics. With slimming signature black staples as a base, layer classic textures like cashmere and knits for warmth, topping high necklines off with statement jewelry. Rock the reindeer argyle socks and bust out the faux furs! Hats, gloves, coats and scarves should compliment your outfit and play up your personality. Time-trusted nostalgic looks should combine with modern, fashion-forward styles like leather joggers, snakeskin over-the-knee boots and floor-length sweeper sweaters. Top it off with a red lip and metallic sparkling eye for our makeup lovers, and you’ll be set to hang the mistletoe and wind up on Santa’s Nice... or Naughty List, if you’re lucky! Models HaRoon Kahn Cassandra Allgire James Musuraca Ebony Hatcher Briden Cole Schuren Jessi Humphrey Larry Belcher Jr Skylar Rose Travis Samson

Creative Director/Photographer Staley Jophiel Munroe Stylists Halle Secura of THREAD Travis Samson of SAMSON: A Men’s Emporium

Producer Kate Heitkamp Photographed at The Messer Family Home

Hair & Makeup Square One Salon & Spa

December 2017 |


SAMSON Kurt Travel Blazer by Nifty Genius $265 Truman Burgundy Plaid Button-Up by Nifty Genius  $115 JP Stretch Chino by Nifty Genius  $95 Dress Scarf by Fine & Dandy $59 Driving Moc by Rancourt & Co.  $295 Flyboy Watch by AVI-8  $395 Jake Leather Glove by Hestra  $125

THREAD Off-the-Shoulder Twist Dress by Kendall and Kylie $250 Reversible Puffer Jacket by Kendall and Kylie $365 Ellison Fur Collar $245 Model

Model Briden Cole Schuren


| December 2017

Jessica Humphrey

THREAD Sequin Mock Neck by Kendall and Kylie $295 Wide Leg TwoTone Jeans by Evidnt $78 Fur Pom by Thread $58 Thread Earrings $48 Model Ebony Hatcher THREAD Faux Fur Bomber by Kendall and Kylie $395 Thread Essential Silvia Turtleneck $72 Repurposed Sequin Jeans by Kendall and Kylie $225 Holly and Tanger Red Bag $459 Snake Skin Overthe-Knee Boot $188 Model Bridget Johnson

December 2017 |


SAMSON Dorrington Saddle Vest by Woolrich $99

SAMSON CPO Jacket by Nifty Genius $170 Truman Indigenous Gray Button-Up by Nifty Genius  $135 Jim Jean in Ave. U by Jean Shop  $185 Navy Urban Pack by Duluth Pack  $265 Model James Musuraca


| December 2017

Deep Channel Henley Sweater by Woolrich $129 Stone Rapids Eco Flannel by Woolrich  $65 Jim Jean in Breezy Point by Jean Shop  $185 Montagnard Carved Brass Bracelets by Fortune Goods $78-$98 Model Travis Samson

SAMSON Donegal Cable Knit Sweater by Peregrine $175 THREAD Bexley Vest by Wai Ming $545 Essential Silvia Turtleneck by Thread $72 Thread Necklace $88 Cuffed Vegan Track Pant by David Lerner $168 Model Skylar Rose

Jim Jean in Canaan by Jean Shop $185 Stone Rapids Eco Flannel by Woolrich  $65 Lafayette Flyboy Watch by AVI-8  $220 Franklin Wool Sock by Farm to Feet  $21 Leather Buckle Loafer by Rancourt & Co.  $340 Bison Sportsman’s Tote by Duluth Pack  $495 Model HaRoon Khan

December 2017 |


SAMSON Hurley Wool Stripe Sweater by Peregrine $140 Aleks Band Collar by O.N.S.  $110 Mick Lightweight Raw Denim by Jean Shop  $185 Montagnard Carved Bronze Trench Cuff by Fortune Goods  $198 Navy Urban Pack by Duluth Pack  $265

THREAD Utica Jacket by Trina Turk $428 Thread Statement Necklace $78 Osmond Gold Pant by Trina Turk $298 Red Pintuck Bodice by Snider $295 Faux Fur Leopard Coat by Ellison $210 Model


Larry Belcher Jr.


| December 2017

Cassandra Allgire

December 2017 |


Behind the

Behind the Music


Behind the Music


When Ohio’s four gay men’s choruses perform their annual holiday concerts this month in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, they’ll offer a brand of holiday cheer that’s unique to more than 100 such groups around the country. It’s a mix of poignancy and high camp, kind of like a hometown version of Hollywood’s sassy gay best friend. But the courage it takes, even today, for some singers to stand up, sing out and identify themselves publicly is tremendous. And not long ago, the stakes were even higher for many chorus members. The groups that now personify a community’s joy and good cheer have roots in the LGBTQ community’s darkest days. Just ask Michael Hoffman what things were like in 1991, the year the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus was created. “That was the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis,” says Hoffman, who now serves as the group’s president. “Literally back then, we were singing for our lives.” “A lot of the gay choruses started that way,” says Timothy Sarsany, artistic director for the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, which dates back to 1990. “A lot of choruses started to sing because their members [were] dying.” Choruses lost members and members lost friends, but in the midst of tragedy,

gay choruses summoned the courage to stand together and be heard.

Behind the Music

“I think that the need was about fellowship and being able not to hide in the midst of the HIV crisis,” says Mark Johnson, who has been a member of the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus since its beginning. “People were looking for an outlet … [to] not have to worry about who you are or any of that baggage.” “Some people didn’t have any families or had been rejected by their families. So here’s somewhere you can go and you can cry or you can sing your heart out and know that they accept you for who you are.” The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus was the first to put the word gay in its name, and about 100 men showed up to the group’s first rehearsal in October 1978. Less than a month later, the chorus performed for the first time at a vigil on the night Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated.

Today, more than 100 LGBT choruses and ensembles—including feminist and women’s choirs, transgender choirs, youth choirs and more—are part of GALA Choruses, a national organization that boasts no less a mission than “to change our world through song.” Members will tell you it’s the fellowship and friendships they’ve developed that have kept many of these groups going strong for decades. For some singers, the history also is an important part of their mission today. “We’re always conscious of where we’ve been,” Hoffman says. “It’s always an undercurrent.”


“I just really love the message and the mission. It’s very important to me,” says Drew Huggins, president of the board for December 2017 |


on audience members and performers alike.

the Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus. That mission includes being a “gay-affirming presence” in the Miami Valley. “The gay affirming presence is the big thing,” Huggins says. “I feel like it’s my responsibility as a proud gay man to kind of spread [that].” For Patrick Muzic, president of Cleveland’s North Coast Men’s Chorus, joining the group six years ago helped him further identify publicly as a gay man. “It’s not that I wasn’t out, but this was kind of pulling me out further,” he says. “It was sort of my catalyst for being able to talk about being gay. ... I lived a dual life, where some people knew and some people didn’t … I have this one life now that I’m proud of.” Huggins says two members of the Dayton chorus joined last year when they were “newly out” as gay men. “One of them, we helped him to come out officially on Facebook last month.” The Cincinnati chorus doesn’t include the word gay in its name, Johnson says, in order to be more welcoming to men who might not want to be identified as gay. The group in Columbus calls itself a gay men’s chorus but welcomes members who aren’t male as long as they can sing in a traditionally male range. “We have women singing with us...we have a non-binary singer...we’ve had non-gay members, straight members sing,” Sarsany says. The groups also welcome non-singers. “I think a lot of people would be surprised. … It’s not just an elite group,” says Adam Burk, executive director for the Columbus chorus. “Anybody and everybody who wants to sing is welcome to come sing with us.” Music truly is universal, Burk says, and that’s another belief the singers share. “I liken it very much to if you share a meal or break bread with someone. You could be strangers when you first meet but when you sing with someone, you automatically have this bond. … It’s something that brings us all together.” Hoffman says the messages have an impact


| December 2017

“It’s sometimes hard as a performer. Your job is not to get caught up and wound up in it,” he says. “You try not to, but there are just some songs that [get to you].” He recites a line from the song, “I Shall Miss Loving You,” part of a longer piece written to honor those who’ve died of AIDS, called, “When We No Longer Touch”: “I shall miss the Joy of your comings and the Pain of your goings and, after a time, I shall miss missing loving you.” “Every time I got to [that line], I would just burst into tears,” Hoffman says. “There’s always moments like that where the songs themselves are very moving.” Some see a new emphasis on those original ideals. “I can’t stress enough how important our mission is right now,” Huggins says. “There’s a rhetoric right now in our country that is not supportive of people who are different, and the best thing I think that we can do is get out there and spread our message.” Sarsany says the goal is to balance entertainment with serious messages. “We want to support all the people in the community, but we really want to reach out to people who are not sure about us,” he says. “We sing songs that they know, but when a gay chorus sings it, it has a different meaning to it.” Seeing gay men sing love songs forces people to make the mental connection that, yes, men love men, and some sing songs about it, Sarsany continues. “It’s right there in front of them. They have to really process that,” he says. “I think that’s really cool and it kind of becomes a non-issue.” That’s especially true when the songs come with good cheer. “They see we’re just a bunch of guys singing. … You can’t really argue with someone who’s just singing you a little Christmas carol,” Hoffman says.

Kayla Beard is a writer from Cincinnati and a recent graduate of Ohio University. Her work has also appeared in The Columbus Dispatch and the Dayton Daily News.

Choir to Cleve Trans



By MJ Eckhouse If your voice doesn’t sound the way others expect it to, even daily interactions like small talk with a cashier can be a miserable hassle. That’s one reason the Cleveland Transgender Choir exists. It offers trans people, who often feel uneasy about their voices, an opportunity to sing in a friendly environment. The choir, which meets weekly at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, started rehearsing last fall. Music professor and cofounder Tracy Grady accompanies the group on piano, and cofounder Kristine Caswelch serves as artistic director. The choir is run through the Baldwin Wallace Community Music School, a program that includes choirs, musical groups and lessons for children, adults and seniors. “I think we’re the only trans choir in the U.S. right now that’s affiliated with a university,” Caswelch says. It’s one of the only transgender choirs, period. Other groups right now practice and perform in Los Angeles, Boston, Kansas City and Manchester, N.H. “It’s more about community and a safe space,” says Michelle Guzowski, who says she has always sung at home and welcomed the chance to be part of the Cleveland choir since its beginning. “It’s a chance to sing with other people, be part of a group and maybe, for me, be a mentor to some younger people.” The choir’s membership ranges from high school students to retirees. There are no auditions and no requirements for singing experience. There are 10 members right now.

Gives Voice land’s Community

nd the Music Behind the Music Behind the The group will perform on Saturday, Dec. 9, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. Its first performance was in July at Youngstown Pride; the choir also sang for OutSupport in Medina and at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland’s Trans* in the CLE conference in October.

December 2 Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus “Christmas Cotillion” December 2-3

As artistic director, Caswelch chooses the repertoire of songs.

North Coast Men’s Chorus, Cleveland

“I want to find pieces that the members can connect with,” she says. “Part of the problem is that a lot of the music in choir is really gender-specific.”

“Under the Mistetoe”

The songlist spans from African calland-response chants to Bob Dylan. And there’s already a signature tune: the famous labor union anthem, “Solidarity Forever,” which includes an extra verse with LGBT-specific lyrics written by Guzowski.

Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus

Caswelch says she believes singing is a healing force. For Dale Stankiewicz, that is literally the case.

Cincinnati Men’s Chorus

Stankiewicz, a Vietnam War veteran, recently had surgery for cancer, which caused muscle and nerve damage in her face. She says singing in the choir has been therapeutic for her, and she hopes it has benefits for the entire transgender community.

See Page 34 for concert times, location and ticket information.

December 8-10

“Joy! Make the Yuletide Gay” December 16-17


“We kind of get lost in the shuffle a little bit,” Stankiewicz says. “This is our way of getting our voice out.” MJ Eckhouse is a trans activist from Hiram. He studies political science at Kent State University and is the editor of Kent State’s LGBTQ magazine, Fusion. @mjeckhouse. December 2017 |


ONE OF Tianna Jones/ Santana Romero

Drag King Home: Toledo Identifies As: Gender Fluid and Queer Pronouns: She/Her/Hers On the Joys of Drag: “What would probably be the most rewarding for me is being able to showcase two important and meaningful sides of me: my dancing and my gender expression. I’ve always been a bit of a ‘tomboy,’ if you will, and I’ve been a dancer for almost 15 years. “When I was a kid, my mom had us watch ‘To Wong Foo’ on the regular, so I’ve known what drag was since my youth. When I came out at 14 and started to learn about it more in depth, I immediately wondered if there was some sort of female equivalent and was excited to find out there was.” On Her First Show: “I got into drag by way of a mentor of mine who knew I had interest. She recommended me to a member of the drag king troupe called the Bois With Outskirts, based right out of the Glass City. I auditioned to become the fourth member and was super excited to find out they wanted to add me on. It was a literal dream come true. “After the rush I felt during my first show, I knew it was hooked, like this was my destiny. I became a cast member at Outskirts Toledo, one of the most known lesbian bars in the area (that sadly closed in 2014), ran for a few pageants in the surrounding area, won a few titles and traveled for a couple years before I really started to blossom at home.” Photo by Tony Lowe

One Of Us is a monthly portrait celebrating the diversity of Ohio’s LGBTQ+ community.


| December 2017


Three veterans of the early, dark days of HIV/AIDS remember the fight and savor the progress.

Ronald Johnson

By Bob Vitale Photos by Staley Munroe

“Sometimes you just don’t want to talk about it,” Ronald Johnson says of the early years. “It’s painful, and there’s the realization that many younger gay men today, thank God, just don’t have that experience. It’s like old soldiers talking about ancient war stories. It gets tired very quickly.” But the early days of HIV/AIDS must be remembered. It was a time when diagnosis meant certain death, and death took away so many. It was a time when a new level of intolerance toward the LGBT community was matched by a new level of activism in response. This year marks the 30th observation of World AIDS Day, a time to talk about the disease, remember its victims and pledge our support to those living with HIV. This year, we also honor three people who have been part of the fight since the beginning.



Dr. Michael Para was working as a viral researcher in Chicago when he got a call in April of 1981 from a friend at the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Para estimates he currently follows more than 600 patients. He also serves as medical director for Equitas Health, which publishes Prizm.

“He asked me whether any virus…that I had been working on would cause a marked immunosuppression. They had started seeing people in New York and L.A. and San Francisco with unusual infections that you typically only see in people whose immune systems are notably injured.”

He saw his first AIDS patient in 1983.

The even stranger thing: The cases all involved gay men. It was the first time Para heard of what some called the gay cancer. The gay plague. Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. HIV and AIDS. Para has researched the disease and the virus that causes it since he got that call. He left Chicago a few months later for Ohio State University in Columbus, where his background as a virologist and work with patients with compromised immune systems quickly made him an expert on

“It was a guy who came in really sick with Pneumocystis pneumonia. I remember seeing him in the intensive care unit, and he died not too long after that.” AIDS wouldn’t spare Ohio, and people with the disease were sent to Para. From 1984 to 1985, according to the Ohio Department of Health, the number of people newly diagnosed just about quadrupled, from more than 100 to well over 400. By 1986, more than 100 Ohioans a year were dying. ‘THEY WERE COMING IN VERY SICK’ “I can actually see the imprint of the title of that article,” Dr. Teresa Long recalls. She first learned of AIDS from the CDC’s June 5, 1981, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a compilation of public health issues facing the country. December 2017 |


Johnson volunteered for New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first of many community groups organized around the country. He led the Minority Task Force on AIDS. He was New York City’s first AIDS policy coordinator, and now he’s about to retire as vice president of policy and advocacy for AIDS United. He has seen the devastating effect of AIDS—he lost a partner to the disease and estimates that 80 percent of coworkers from the task force are dead—but he also speaks proudly of the community’s response.

Dr. Teresa Long

Long was a resident at San Francisco General Hospital. She later worked at the San Francisco Department of Public Health and came to Columbus in 1986 to help establish the city’s testing and prevention programs. She will retire this month as Columbus’ health commissioner. Back in 1981, San Francisco General felt like ground zero. “They were coming in very sick. Spots. Spots on faces. Lesions. Pulmonary problems. There was, among medical professionals and everyone, a fear.” Long, like Para, says there were staff who transferred away from the patients with the disease that was new and unknown and frightening. “But you know,” she says, “I don’t remember...” Long, like Para, doesn’t remember wanting to leave. ‘AFRAID OF BEING GAY’ Ronald Johnson jokes that he was probably one of only three people reading The New York Times over the Fourth of July weekend in 1981. “If I had gone to Fire Island, there would have been only two.” The Times published its first story—”Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals”—on July 3, 1981. The men ranged in age from 26 to 51. Most reported “frequent sexual encounters with different partners.” One doctor reported “no apparent danger to non-homosexuals.” Johnson remembers thinking: “This is weird.’” “What was transmitted still wasn’t known,” Johnson says. “So just the act of homosexual activity was scary. People just became afraid of being gay.”


| December 2017

“Advocacy has been a part of the response to HIV since Day One,” he says. “It had to be. There were literally no services. The government was ignoring us. We had to demand things. We not only had to create things for ourselves, we had to demand things.” ‘WE WERE OUR PROVIDERS’ Along with fear came stigma. There were allies such as Para and Long and others, but the community learned quickly that it was on its own. “We recognized in those days that we were our providers,” Johnson says. “There were people who helped despite the fear.” Buddy programs provided AIDS patients with everything from rides to the doctor to end-of-life care. Lesbians became some of the most dedicated care-givers and advocates for gay men. And the care was hard, Long says. “It was messy. Literally messy.” People also mobilized politically. Until AIDS, Johnson says, many gay men—particularly white gay men, who were AIDS’ earliest victims—lived closeted but comfortable lives. AIDS made their sexual orientation clear and discrimination commonplace. But the formerly privileged knew a thing or two about organizing. As an early fundraiser for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, supporters rented out Madison Square Garden for a performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

There were people who helped despite the fear. -Ronald Johnson, AIDS United

Diagnoses of HIV infection, by year of diagnosis united states statistics courtesy of Centers for Disease control HIV Surveillance report, Vol 27 Total

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015


43.9k 14.2% 42.1k 13.5% 41.2k 13.1% 39.6k 12.5% 40.2k 12.6% 39.5k 12.3%

a Rates are per 100,000 population. Rates are not calculated by transmission category because of the lack of denominator data.

Dr. Michael Para

“These are men who said, ‘Oh no, no, no. I know the system,’” Johnson says. “Not only were they not used to being shunned, they knew how to respond. They said, ‘OK, we’ll organize ourselves.’” In San Francisco, Long recalls, activists who chained themselves to buildings also worked with officials behind the scenes. When she came to Columbus, Long set up an advisory group of LGBT activists. “They were in your face sometime—in my face—but they were terrific at saying, ‘We can do this,’ or, ‘We can help,’ or, ‘Here’s who you need to talk to.’” ‘THERE IS HOPE’ “You’ve been in the business a long time,” Long told Johnson when they met for the first time in early November. “Me too.” The retiring vice president at AIDS United came to Ohio to be honored by the board of Equitas Health. “None of us thought we were going to be in this for the long term,” Johnson says. But the three veterans are more hopeful than ever about ending the epidemic. Since 2010, new HIV diagnoses have fallen among white gay and bisexual men, and the number has stabilized among black gay and bi men. PrEP, the use of HIV medication to prevent transmission of the virus, promises even greater results. While stigma still exists, Para says HIV now “is easier to treat than high blood pressure.” But therein lies a new frustration: 51 percent of people with HIV are not being treated. Johnson calls today’s prevention and treatment advances a “functional cure.” He was diagnosed with HIV in 1988 and didn’t think he would live to see his 50th birthday. He’s now 69, married and planning his retirement. “There is hope,” he says. Bob Vitale is the editor of Prizm. E-mail him at @Bob_Vitale

December 2017 |


OUT in OHIO Dayt on


Dayton’s “party of parties” has raised more than $1.25 million in the last 15 years for HIV/AIDS case management, education, prevention and advocacy. This year’s costume party had the theme, “Lost Worlds,” and supported the work of Equitas Health, the LGBTQfocused health network.

Photos courtesy of Equitas Health

Plexus Networking Night


OutReels Film Festival


Nineteen feature films, shorts and documentaries were on the marquee for the annual LGBTQ film festival at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater. Four filmmakers came to Cincinnati for the weekend to talk with audiences about their work.

Photos courtesy of OutReels


| December 2017

Northeast Ohio’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce hosted its November social event at Downtown’s Kimpton Schofield Hotel. Mark your calendar now: Plexus’ Network Night Holiday Party is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland. Visit for details. Photos by Erik Meinhadt


HighBall Halloween

The 10th annual celebration drew more than 30,000 people to the streets of the Short North. Nina West performed her hosting duties with aplomb, sharing the stage with more than a dozen musical acts and 10 fashion designers. The spotlight of the twonight event was shared with thousands of costumed revelers. Photos courtesy of HighBall Halloween

Tickets are $10 for adults, and a $5 donation is suggested for students. 7:30 p.m. at Blank Canvas Theatre, 1305 W. 80th St., Cleveland, 44102. More info: Thursday, December 7

Northwest Northeast West Central Southwest Southeast

Calendar More events at

Saturday, December 2

Holidays Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl If it’s so 1983, it’ll do just fine. Don your ugly apparel and join the Cincinnati bar crawl that also will help benefit Toys for Tots. It includes a stop at Below Zero Lounge. Noon-8 p.m. Tickets start at $15. More info: Sunday, December 3

Fundraiser Sugar Plum Tour The 16th tour of Akron’s best holiday homes raises money for the Gay Community Endowment Fund of the Akron Community Foundation. Five contemporary and historic homes are part of this year’s tour. The event starts at 1 p.m.; tickets are $35. More info:

Fundraiser Holiday With Heart Charity Gayla This annual holiday party that raises money for Toledo’s LGBTQ organizations is Ohio’s oldest LGBTQ community fundraiser. It is celebrating 40 years in 2017. (See our November issue for a story about the event’s history.) 4 p.m. at the Toledo Club, 235 14th St., Toledo, 43604. Tickets are $85. More info: Wednesday, December 6

Community Stolen Moments: Intergenerational LGBT Voices The aim of this project is to boost interest in intergenerational LGBT history and to support opportunities for LGBT people of all ages to foster healthy and meaningful relationships.

Film ‘4 Days in France’ In this take on gay romance in the 21st century, Pierre travels through the French countryside using only Grinder as his guide. His boyfriend sets off after him, using his own phone to track Pierre’s movements in a strange game of cat-and-mouse. 7 p.m. at the Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St., Columbus, 43210. Tickets are $8, or $6 for members, students and seniors. More info:

Music Harmony Project: The Concert for Us The Harmony Project began in 2009 with the goal of using the arts to unite people across Columbus’ social and economic divides. More than 1,000 people and 30 musicians will perform. 7:30 p.m. at Nationwide Arena, 200 W. Nationwide Blvd., Columbus, 43215. Tickets are $18-$28. More info: Friday, November 10

Community Holiday Clothing Exchange

More Thursday, December 21

Music Anne E. DeChant The lesbian singer and Cleveland native performs from her long list of poignant, melodic songs. 7:30 p.m. at the Music Box Supper Club, 1148 Main Ave., Cleveland, 44113. Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door. More info: Wednesday, December 27

Nightlife Vogue Night It’s a new weekly event at McCune’s Other Side Bistro. 9 p.m. at McCune’s, 5038 Lewis Ave., Toledo, 43612. There’s a $6 cover, which is good for $6 credit at the bar. More info: FB: McCune’s Other Side Bistro Sunday, December 31

Holidays New Year’s Eve: The Grand Tour The Dayton Performing Arts Association celebration is a feast for the senses. It includes appetizers, sweets and champagne, dancers from the Dayton Ballet, vocalists from the Dayton Opera, musicians from the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. 8 p.m. at the Schuster Center, 1 W. 2nd St., Dayton, 45402. Tickets are $19-$74. More info:

The Greater Dayton LGBT Center and the Gatlyn Dame Group are hosting this event, which will allow people in need to pick out clothing shoes and accessories. 1-4 p.m. Monday, December 11

Theater National Theatre Live: ‘Follies’ Stephen Sondheim’s legendary musical will be staged at the National Theatre in London and broadcast live in cinemas. 6:30 p.m. at the Gateway Film Center, 1550 N. High St., Columbus, 43201. Tickets are $20. Another showing is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 1:30 p.m. Friday, December 15

Film ‘Rebels on Pointe’ The first documentary about Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the all-male drag ballet company that travels the world spoofing classical dance, explores such universal themes as dreams, identity and family. 7 p.m. at the Cleveland Musem of Art, 11150 East Blvd., Cleveland, 44106. Tickets are $10, or $7 for museum members. There’s another screening set for Sunday, Dec. 17 at 1:30 p.m.

December 2017 |


RESOURCES More information about the people and places in this issue...

Page 5: A Victory for Diversity Ohio conducts elections every year. In 2018, we’ll elect a new governor (John Kasich is limited to two terms), new state officers, state legislators, a U.S. senator and all 16 members of Congress who represent our state in Washington. Interested in running for office? Wednesday, Feb. 7 is the deadline for candidates to turn in the necessary paperwork to get on the ballot. 877-SOS-OHIO (877-767-6446) Page 7: #Lesbians, Bi & Trans Women Too BRAVO, which stands for the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, is a statewide organization based in Columbus that documents cases of sexual violence and hate violence based on victims’ gender identity or sexual orientation. BRAVO also offers legal help, survivor support and cultural competency training. Toll Free, 866-86-BRAVO (866-8627286); Columbus, 614-294-7867; Cincinnati, 513-453-4001; Cleveland, 216-370-7361. Page 14: A Family’s Journey The Family Pride Network of Central Ohio serves LGBT families and prospective parents through social events, educational programs and professional resources. 614-636-3233 Joel and Craig Diaz worked with the Choice Network for their adoption. The Worthington-based agency works with both pregnant women and people looking to adopt a child. 866-989-1466


| December 2017

Page 17: Our Gay Apparel Thread features clothing for men and women. Address: 1285 Grandview Ave., Columbus, 43212 @shopthread SAMSON: A Men’s Emporium features men’s clothing and gifts. Address: 772 N. High St., Columbus 43215 @shopsamson Page 25: Behind the Music Ohio’s four gay choruses—the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus, the North Coast Men’s Chorus in Cleveland, the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus and the Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus—will present holiday concerts this month in their hometowns. Visit their websites for information about how to join and for dates of future concerts. The Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus will perform on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 125 N. Wilkinson St., Dayton, 45402. Tickets are $20 and available online. The North Coast Men’s Chorus will perform three concerts on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and 3, at the Hanna Theatre at Playhouse Square, 2067 E. 14th St., Cleveland, 44115. Times are 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $20-$50 and available online. The Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus will perform four concerts from Friday, Dec. 8 to Sunday, Dec. 10. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m. at King Avenue United Methodist Church, 299 King Ave., Columbus, 43201; Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. at King Avenue UMC; and Sunday at 6 p.m. at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 2480 W. Dublin-Granville Road, Columbus, 43235. Tickets are available online.

The Cincinnati Men’s Chorus will perform on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16 and 17, at Walnut Hills High School’s Westheimer Auditorium, 3250 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, 45207. Concert times are 8 p.m. and 2 p.m. on the respective dates. Tickets are $18 and available online. Page 26: Transgender Choir The Cleveland Transgender Choir rehearses weekly at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea. Cleveland Transgender Choir Page 28: One of Us Santana Romero performs regularly in Toledo and around Northwest Ohio. Santana Romero Page 29: Tales From the Front Lines The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a great clearing house for the latest information about HIV/AIDS, your risk factors, prevention strategies and more. You can also type in your ZIP code and find free HIV testing sites in your area. @CDC_HIVAIDS AIDS United is a national organization that advocates for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS and the organizations that serve them. To date, its grantmaking initiatives have directly funded more than $104 million to local communities and have leveraged more than $117 million in additional investments for programs that include syringe access, access to care, capacitybuilding, HIV prevention and advocacy. @AIDS_United

Visit for a full directory of LGBTQ resources in Ohio. To add your organization to the list, email

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Prizm Magazine December 2017  

Prizm Magazine December 2017  

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