by Ken Schneck
An editor’s task of penning the first words to introduce a new publication is daunting in normal circumstances. That same task during our current reality? Well that’s something…else.
I write to you as an LGBTQ+ Ohioan at a truly unbelievable time:
A pandemic. Social distancing. Pride celebrations postponed or canceled altogether. The ongoing assault on black bodies that is both killing members of our families and causing our communities untold damage. Protests advocating for desperately-needed change that are obscured by a haze caused of the actions of others, a smog enabling the willful blindness of those who don’t want to see the presence and outcomes of systemic racism. The seemingly endless string of murders of our trans siblings (most recently: Riah Milton right here in Ohio). And leaders peering down above us all, figureheads who derive power from sowing division with nary a thought towards that which could unite us.
I am sad. I am scared. I am stressed. But I also am motivated, needing to channel my energy into action, to work on a solution, and to just do something. The Buckeye Flame is that something.
I had planned to start this first piece with a pithy-yet-charming opening story about receiving the call back in March that Prizm—Ohio’s LGBTQ+ magazine—was being shuttered by its publisher. You were going to feel pathos. You were going to feel chagrin. And you were going to feel a lightning bolt of certainty coursing through your entire soul leaving you utterly convinced of one tethered anchor of surety in this decidedly unsure world: The Buckeye Flame is needed.
But with the maelstrom of events swirling around us, my pithy-yet-charming story no longer matters, except for that last piece: a brightly burning need.
The history behind this platform is pretty brief. Within a few days of deciding to give The Buckeye Flame a go, I assembled a Board of Directors consisting of 12 of the most incredible professionals from all across Ohio (and the country!) to advise on a path forward. The Board quickly approved all of our organizational documents, and we will soon officially be a 501(c)(3) organization. And in relatively short order, our board unanimously endorsed this mission statement:
The Buckeye Flame amplifies the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging content that chronicles our triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences.
Those words will guide us.
At a time when we can’t physically gather, The Buckeye Flame will provide the stories of those who continue to create opportunities for connection and engagement.
In a state where the LGBTQ+ populace does not have nondiscrimination protections in housing or public accommodations, and where our state lawmakers continue to sponsor hateful bills targeting our community (and specifically our trans siblings and LGBTQ+ youth), The Buckeye Flame will broadcast the efforts of those fighting for our rights, our liberties, and our lives.
In a growing information vacuum where publications and media outlets are facing extinction-level circumstances, The Buckeye Flame will use its nonprofit structure to serve you directly: telling your stories, recognizing your struggles and achievements, and using your support to both establish and grow this platform.
And in a landscape that rarely centers LGBTQ+ voices except to either occasionally feature the narratives of white gay men in our biggest cities or to solely posit our voices against the backdrop of an ugly back-and-forth moral policy debate, The Buckeye Flame will indeed amplify all of our voices. We will uplift the voice of the 23-year-old in West Liberty creating a pride celebration, the affirming church in Portsmouth providing a safe haven, and yes, the experiences of our black and brown LGBTQ+ family that are unrecognized and underreported.
The Buckeye Flame has never been more needed, and we need you—our community—to help to keep the fire going:
- Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Follow us on Instagram. Our numbers on social media help potential advertisers see our reach. And that’s important.
- Subscribe to The Spark, our (free!) weekly newsletter: the latest news and views delivered right to your mailbox once a week.
- Submit a story: If you know something LGBTQ+ Ohio related, TELL US! We want to cover it.
- Send advertisers our way: We have unbelievably affordable rates for you or someone you know to reach the LGBTQ+ Ohio community.
- Donate: Your contributions help support our truly modest budget, which allows us to create more and more LGBTQ+ Ohio content.
For many, this is a dark moment. For most, an overwhelming moment. For all, an uncertain time.
To which we say: flame on.
This is the perfect time for The Buckeye Flame to ignite and serve its purpose: to shine a light on our LGBTQ+ lives, to (symbolically!) burn down the systems that neither serve nor represent us, and to provide a spark to stir the activism needed to achieve the equality we simply do not have.
As The Buckeye Flame lights up with this post, we are excited to tell the stories of LGBTQ+ Ohio and provide a bit more light and warmth as we not only blaze this path forward but do so together.