Be careful what you say to Quorum Columbus’ publisher Isaac Bendele. Prior to moving to Columbus nearly three years ago, Isaac and I discussed his idea to start an LGBTQA community magazine. At the time I told him that once I moved to Columbus, I would “help with some editing.” Little did I know that this offer would morph into me helping shape Quorum Columbus from mission, to selecting our name, to assembling the crew, to printing our first issue, to serving as the founding editor.
The reality is that I should have known. This is not the first time in my life that I entertained the idea of helping with a new project or group only to become deeply involved in the infrastructure and fully committed to the cause.
I am proud of my history of starting new ventures and encourage others to do the same. Over the years I have been asked by students and community members about how to get involved in the LGBTQA community. The advice I give is simple and clear, yet somehow challenging: The way you get involved is you get involved. You have to show up, speak up, engage and return again and again.
I turned a weekend retreat during high school into over 15 years of service to a youth leadership substance abuse prevention program called Teen Institute. I went from helping fellow LGBTQ students find their voice during my undergrad at Ohio University to helping establish and expand the university’s LGBT Center. I went from accepting a social justice activism award from United Campus Ministry to serving on the non-profit’s board of directors for 12 years. I attended a gathering in Columbus to discuss the need for a statewide LGBTQ rights organization nearly 10 years ago, then spent much of two and half years helping to create and guide the early work of Equality Ohio. And this was my second effort at helping to launch a statewide LGBTQ group. (I often wonder if Ohio would be a better state for queer citizens had OutVoice taken hold in the early 90s.)
My past involvement is why I am so keen on supporting and promoting our local LGBTQA organizations and United Way’s Pride Leadership program. My involvement with Quorum Columbus has provided me a media megaphone to highlight the good works of these important organizations.
I have loved, grown from, helped to improve and ultimately moved on from each of my past experiences to pursue other interests and opportunities. But I never move on entirely; I maintain a connection with and an affinity for each involvement. The same will be true with this publication.
Next month marks the second anniversary for Quorum Columbus. The April issue will also mark my last issue as editor. In late January I let Isaac know that I needed to step down. My decision was not an easy one, but it was aided by attending Equality Ohio’s Allies for Equality event at Strongwater, which is housed in the same building as the 400 West Rich art studios. You see, my move to Columbus was in part to reconnect with my love of making art. I had a studio in that converted warehouse for several months, but made little time to be there due to another creative interest - this publication.
While I enjoy the work I do with the entire Quorum crew, I need to free up my schedule to make art. The event was a reminder that I also have an interest in contributing to the work, not just covering the events, of local LGBTQ organizations. My decision was reaffirmed in early February while helping with the grassroots volunteer effort to find a missing trans* teen.
While I am stepping down as editor, I am not stepping away. I will continue to contribute to the publication and share my ideas with the crew for how best to tell the stories that celebrate the victories and the lives of LGBTQA people in this fine city.
I am extremely proud of what we have been able to produce in our first two years, and I look forward to seeing where and how the magazine grows in the future. While there is always room for improvement and always room for more voices at the table, I am proud that we have lived up to the idea of serving as a quorum – a representative reflection – of the LGBTQA community.