Prizm News / April 23, 2019 / By Ken Schneck

Ribbon Cutting ceremony at Stonewall Columbus with Mayor Andrew Ginther
(Photo by Staley Munroe)

Stonewall Columbus unveils their 10,000 square foot expansion to set the stage for a vibrant LGBTQ future in Ohio’s capital

By Ken Schneck

With the ceremonial cut of the red ribbon on April 18, the Columbus community celebrated the grand opening of the newly renovated and expanded Stonewall Columbus community center. After years of fundraising towards this first capital campaign in the organization’s 30+ years in the community, 3.8 million dollars was raised to create the 15,000 sq. ft. space. With several multi purpose rooms, a rotating art gallery, private meeting spaces, and a rooftop deck, the transformation is as striking as it is significant. Prizm was on the scene of the celebration to gather quotes on both the importance of this expansion as well as what the future next holds for the Columbus LGBTQ community. 

Rob Podlogar, Board President, Stonewall Columbus

Today’s grand opening allows us to celebrate our history as well as the future of Stonewall Columbus. Along with the newly christened space comes a commitment to a new generation of programming, so we are out there in the community actively asking what people want to see. We’re not just going to do the same programs we have always done, and take things from a smaller space into a bigger space. The goal is to add programs that are going to be able to uplift our community. 

Lana Moore, Board Member, GLAAD

I’m excited about the physical space that can now accommodate and facilitate the coming together of diversity in our community. This is especially important for the younger people so they know that they have a home-base where they can gather. Long after we’re gone, this building will still be here. 

AJ Casey, Executive Director, Stonewall Columbus

This has been 38 years in the making, with five years of fundraising, and countless hours of cleaning and decorating. Immediately, we are working to staff up. We want to work with all groups in the community to bring people together. We want to increase our social media presence to reconnect with our community and to remind people that we are here. In this new space, I see spoken word events, TED Talks, political events, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, family events, brunch on the roof with mimosas, quiet private space. Anything we can imagine, we can help make happen in this space.

J. Averi Frost, President of Board of Directors, Black, Out & Proud

We’ve come a long way over the past fifty years, but there’s still so much more work to be done. There’s a feeling here of opening arms. This space is open to the public. You can have classes. You can have events. I want to see workshops, lunch-and-learns, networking, and so much more that’s hosted by and for everyone in our community. 

Natalie Streete, Designer

This is a beautiful space. I’m hoping to see the community get together here more often. The art gallery is wonderful. 

Mark Alhajj, Physician Assistant

I love that this is a safe place for those in the LGBTQ community. What will be incredible will be reaching out to LGBTQ youth. We can easily forget what that time of life can be like. But here we have a place that can be a home for youth, a place for them to be celebrated, and a place where we can encourage their growth and flourishing into their being the most that they can be. 

Mary B. Relotto, Coordinated Ribbon Cutting Event, Producer at Thrive Columbus

It’s amazing how many hundreds of people are here and how many have never stepped foot in Stonewall Columbus before tonight. I am most excited for the second floor, the wellness center where there will be pro bono counseling services available. And I’m excited for the revenue opportunity for people to rent out spaces and celebrate here. This center is where we represent each other and we have to take pride in that completely. 

Joshua Snyder-Hill, Treasurer, Stonewall Columbus

We will have educational programming, financial programming, programming about coming out, events for parents, something for everyone. We want to redefine the individuals who Stonewall Columbus serves. We want to get individuals in the door who already come to Pride and now will come here to see what Stonewall can offer them. 

Alana Jochum, Executive Director, Equality Ohio

At Equality Ohio, we are working towards the manifestation of the vision where everyone can be who they are no matter where they are in this state. Safe spaces, like Stonewall Columbus, are a big part of that. We can reach that goal through working to change hearts, minds, and, ultimately, our laws and policies.