Friday, August 19

Obituary: Gloria McCauley, trailblazing Ohio LGBTQ+ advocate

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Gloria McCauley 1952-2022 (age 69) transitioned into spirit on June 8, 2022 in Florida.

Gloria never said no to a queer kid in need of space, whether for a night, a month or longer. With her partner of 40 years, Chris Cozad, she provided safety, a meal, a good night’s sleep, and opening her heart to supply love, kindness, and the occasional kick in the pants to move kids along in their journey. They honor that so many of their kids turned into well-adjusted adults, despite rough times, and include them in their hearts: Misty, Jericho, Lee, Jordan, Cody, Jonathan, Nancy, Godric, and Elias.

Gloria McCauley teaching self defense.

Then there are the communities that Gloria touched, loved, and served with fire in her belly including her beloved crew mates at the Michigan Women’s Music Festival where she worked for nearly 40 years and the Ohio Lesbian Festival which she helped to organize and worked for over a 30-year-span. She loved and embraced the Columbus Drag community, and they embraced her as a fan, a friend, an advocate, a patron, and a guardian. She taught them to embrace themselves, be safe, stay alert, have fun, and watch out for each other, because “Violence is a Drag.”

Gloria was a passionate advocate for LGBTQ+ people.

She had what she called “the justice gene” which led to a life of righting wrongs, fighting for marginalized people, helping people deal with violent trauma in their life and sharing her wealth of knowledge with the world. Her life’s work and legacy BRAVO (the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization) allowed her to serve in unique and critical ways from assisting people with navigating the justice system, to education professionals about providing culturally competent service to the community at the local, state, and national level, teaching self-defense, coordinating event security, and organizing volunteers to help her every step of the way.

Gloria McCauley with Team BRAVO

She visited people in the hospital, held them when they mourned, went to court with them, sat with them, planned with them, cared for them, talked to the police with them, and made sure they were not alone during the most difficult times of their lives. She loved that work, self-identifying as “the world’s neurotic mother” and would always be there no matter the time of day or the day of the week.

Community came first to her.

A two-time breast cancer survivor, Gloria also faced numerous back and neck surgeries, several bouts with life threatening systemic infections, and two rounds of intense wound care requiring major treatment and reconstructive surgery. She was strong, surviving things that would have taken many of us. She was in constant pain, yet retained her compassion, her work ethic, her sense of humor, and her joy at life. She was a fighter for herself, her family, and her community.

Gloria McCauley & Chris Cozad

In her retirement Gloria found yet another community to embrace, love and be loved by, our neighbors and friends at Causeway Village MHC in Florida where Gloria spent winters and she and Chris visited often. Gloria loved the people, the pool, the dock, the palm trees, the warmth, and the Boca Ciega Bay complete with dolphins and manatees. “The Sunny House” was her happy place and it is where she spent her final days.

She leaves behind a beloved family who will hold her in their hearts, always: Chris, daughter LeaBeth Wentworth and partner Jenn Thompson from Paducah Kentucky, daughter Caelen McCauley and partner Evan Rossi from Columbus Ohio, daughter Sasha Minniefield and granddaughter K’Lil Minniefield of Halifax Nova Scotia, and her sweet cat Watson. In addition, a small tight knit chosen family in Columbus including Zach Coleman, Nate Lewis, Camille Dunn, Michelle and Tom Walton, Shelley Blackburn, Tom Young, Jane Cera, Smokey Shumate, and Phoenix Campbell will continue to cherish Gloria’s heart. She was preceded in death by her mother Ruth and Stepfather Bill, her beloved sister Mary and their first “foster” son Max Gruber.

There will be celebrations of Gloria’s life both in Columbus and in Florida:

  • Florida – Causeway Village MCH Clubhouse, S. Pasadena – Saturday September 2, 2022. 3pm Celebration of life followed by light supper / potluck (bring a dish to share.)
  • Columbus – Goodale Park Shelter House, Saturday October 8, 2022, 11:30 AM Celebration of Life followed by a luncheon / potluck (bring a dish to share.)
  • Columbus – District West 145 N 5th Street, – Sunday October 9, 2022, Drag Brunch honoring Gloria. In keeping with Gloria’s passion for our community and for justice, this event will be a fundraiser for Equality Ohio. Time and details soon.

As much as Gloria loved flowers, the family asks that instead of flowers you consider a gift in Gloria’s honor to Equality Ohio or the Cat Welfare Association. 🔥

Gloria McCauley

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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.

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