So much of 2022 was…well…oof.
The Republican supermajority in the Ohio legislature was hell-bent on introducing a slate of anti-LGBTQ+ bills designed to write LGBTQ+ Ohioans out of existence. Hearing after hearing featured individuals stepping up to the mic to say truly horrible things, including gender-affirming care being compared to dog training, countless accusations of “grooming,” and a legion of parents of trans children misgendering their children — literally — hundreds of time.
All the while, The Buckeye Flame endeavored to simply keep up.
Here in our second full-year of existence, our capacity changed dramatically with the addition of HL Comeriato, our first-ever full-time staff writer.
They wrote dozens and dozens of in-depth explorations on topics ranging from Ohio’s only registered trans athlete, to the queer angle of the FRONT art exhibition, to a comprehensive primer on gender-affirming care. And with their keen photography prowess, HL added invaluable and engaging visual elements to the site, including galleries of rural pride celebrations and images of noteworthy Ohio protests.
Our goal for the year was to increase our traffic by 5%. The final tally was a 22% increase…which apparently is a lot more than 5%.
As we look at our metrics, so much of our traffic comes from stories detailing horrible things that happened this past year. Heck, the articles about the December Proud Boys protest alone amassed more clicks in 48 hours than we would normally yield in a month’s worth of traffic.
On the one hand: wonderful! Those pieces are a gateway drug to get people to the other content on site.
On the other hand: ugh. Are we purveyors of LGBTQ+ Ohio trauma porn? That doesn’t feel…great.
And this is where we have to pause, breathe and remind ourselves that there really were positive LGBTQ+ Ohio stories in 2022.
In fact: the majority of our “Top 6” stories amplify LGBTQ+ Ohioans using their voices to make a difference in their local communities: from opening a gay bar in an unlikely zip code, to serving as Homecoming Princess, to our tens of thousands of LGBTQ+ siblings who organized and showed up for Prides all over the state.
Every indicator points to the exactly the same slate of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being reintroduced in 2023. The Buckeye Flame will be there to cover every hearing. It will be grueling, depressing, infuriating and exhausting: both for us to write and for you to read and share.
But let our “Top 6” stories of 2022 be a reminder that we promise to bring you the inspiring stories too.
So here’s to 2023. May it bring increased opportunities for LGBTQ+ Ohioans to be more fully heard and for The Buckeye Flame to amplify them when (not if) they champion for equality, create much-needed change, or simply just put on a tiara.
Our Top 6 of 2022
6. Despite pushback in a small Ohio city, a first ever drag brunch – and LGBTQ+ support – will go on (2/18/22)
You have to love a story about the difference that can be made just by organizing a drag brunch. AND, this one event led to the creation of a new gay bar in a most unlikely zip code.
5. In spite of mean-spirited joke, 15-year-old Ohio trans Homecoming Princess advocates for herself & trans youth everywhere (9/30/22)
Easily one of our favorite stories of the year. The beaming face of 15-year-old Cassie Steiner in her tiara will inspire you on even the cloudiest of days.
This piece was less than 300 words(!) but you all kept clicking to find out where and you could show up to speak out. And we love that.
We knew HB 616 was coming. But the introduction of Ohio’s (much worse) version of Florida’s curriculum ban on mentioning race and LGBTQ+ identity still garnered a TON of attention. HB 616 never received a second hearing, with many insiders citing the amount of national bad press the bill’s introduction garnered as part of its stalling out.
2. 2022 Ohio LGBTQ+ Pride Guide (5/11/22)
What started as a listing of 40+ Pride celebrations across Ohio blossomed into a gargantuan tally of over 90(!) events. We are speaking it into existence here: 2023’s Pride Guide will break 100 celebrations.
1. The Proud Boys stuff (November and December)
The news of the Proud Boys announcing they would disrupt a children’s event went incredibly viral, with our coverage getting shout-outs in media around the world. Then LGBTQ+ leaders asked the public not to counter-protest. Ultimately the event was canceled and conflicting narratives soon emerged. This was a super chaotic end of the year to say the very least.