Upcoming Ohio Lesbian Visibility Week celebration to feature comedy, art, small-business love and storytelling

The Columbus-based event is a chance to have fun, support and recognize the achievements of lesbian and gay women in the area.

Editor’s Note: After this story was first published on April 21, 2023, The Buckeye Flame’s editorial team was made aware of and verified past transphobic content published by Dr. Bonnie Morris, of which we were not previously aware. Morris will appear during Lesbian Visibility Week to discuss her newest book. In press for her upcoming book, it does appear that Morris uses appropriate language to refer to trans athletes.

Artists, authors, storytellers, and small-business owners (a farm shop! a lesbian bar!) will join together next week in a public celebration of the vibrancy of the lesbian community in Columbus.

The April 23-29 event, called Lesbian Visibility Week, is a chance to have fun, meet up with friends and support and recognize the achievements of lesbian and gay women in the area. It’s hosted by a local nonprofit, Lesbians Benefitting the Arts, an organization “committed to the inclusion and honoring of all womyn.”

The LBA, which got its start sometime in the late ‘80s, originally stood for the Lesbian Business Association but the name changed around eight years ago, according to LBA board secretary Christy Fulton. LBA produced the Ohio Lesbian Festival for many years, until the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to an unexpected end.

This year’s festival is an extension of Lesbian Visibility Day, April 26, an annual observance in the U.S., United Kingdom and other countries that is dedicated to recognizing and raising awareness of lesbians and queer women.

The Columbus event arose out of a discussion Fulton and her good friend Mary Jane Quick, a local artist, had while on a hike last year. Quick mentioned she was working on an art installation for Lesbian Visibility Day at Stonewall Columbus, and both women acknowledged they’d had no idea there was such a thing as Lesbian Visibility Day.

“We started talking and we’re like, ‘What if we did a whole week of it?’ And that’s where it started, out on a hike and it just went from there,” Fulton said. “I got approval from the LBA to do it and sponsor it and we just planned some events for that week in April.”

Quick said once the idea for Lesbian Visibility Week gained steam, they started brainstorming ideas for events they thought the community would like to see. They reached out to local lesbian-owned businesses like Bake Me Happy, City Folk and Rumours to participate in the week’s festivities and also organized special events—like a visit from the acclaimed professor, author and historian Bonnie Morris, who will be speaking about her most recent book, “What’s The Score: 25 Years of Teaching Women’s Sports History.”

There will be several other events throughout the week. On Wednesday, April 26, the Stonewall Center Gallery will showcase Quick’s portraits of 50 influential lesbians she’s encountered throughout her life.

There will also be a storytelling series at Summit Station, which was Ohio’s longest-running lesbian bar from 1980 to 2008. Former patrons will gather to tell stories about how the bar has played a major role in the community over the years. Summit Station is also set to receive a historical marker, making it the third LGBTQ+ historical marker in the state and the first in central Ohio.

“That bar was such a big part of many of our histories,” Fulton said. “I know when I first came out, I used to go there, and I think it’s really exciting for everyone. A lot of women are coming back into town in June when the historical marker is gonna be placed.”

The big goal for this year’s week of events is to get the word out about Lesbian Visibility Day in general, as well as raise awareness of the LBA and work toward fostering a sense of community and connection among women in the area.

Another aim, says Quick, “is to bring awareness and to be mindful of supporting lesbian-owned businesses in the community … especially after the pandemic, which is still impacting some lives more deeply than others. It really affected many businesses.”

“I would hope that in hearing the diverse opportunities that we have available for this short week, everyone can find one thing that they would be really interested in doing and seeing and sharing and supporting in the community,” Quick added.

While this is the first time the LBA is hosting Lesbian Visibility Week, there are hopes that it will become an annual event. Fulton said there have already been other lesbian-owned businesses that have expressed an interest in participating next year.

For those attending the events, Quick recommends being mindful about parking, specifically at Stonewall because the parking lot is small and people may need to park elsewhere and walk. There are also two events — the storytelling at Summit Station and a comedy show on Friday night — that are ticketed and require attendees to purchase tickets beforehand.

“Everything’s open to the public. It’s not just lesbians and women only,” Fulton said. “All of the events are open to anyone. They can go to our website if they want further information or we have Facebook and Instagram presences. We would just love to see as many people attend events as they feel comfortable.” 🔥

Lesbian Visibility Week Schedule of Events

Sunday, April 23, Dr. Bonnie Morris isspeaking about her most recent book “What’s the Score: 25 Years of Teaching Women’s Sports History”. Dr. Bonnie Morris is a women’s history professor and the author of 18 books. Her talk is followed by a Q&A. 3 p.m. Open Door Gallery, 1050 Goodale Blvd, Grandview, Ohio. ASL interpreted. https://fb.me/e/M3z59udh

Tuesday, April 25, Stop-n-Shop at Bake Me Happy 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Bake Me Happy is a gluten-free, lesbian-owned bakery located at 500 E Whittier St, Columbus. www.bakemehappygf.com

Tuesday, April 25, Stop-n-Shop at Preston’s: A Burger Joint 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Preston’s is a locally sourced, made-to-order restaurant that is lesbian-owned. It’s located at 2973 North High St, Columbus. www.prestonsburgers.com

Wednesday, April 26, Mary Jane Quick’s “Celebrating Columbus Lesbians: 50 Portraits” exhibit and reception at Stonewall Center Gallery. Quick is a mixed-media/encaustic artist who lives in Columbus. Her exhibit will be displayed in the Stonewall Center Gallery during the month of April. The reception on Lesbian Visibility Day, April 26, will take place from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. https://fb.me/e/3tAOdki3R

Wednesday, April 26, Every Night is Ladies Night: Stories from Ohio’s Longest Running Lesbian Bar. Summit Station was the soul of the lesbian community in Central Ohio and beyond from 1980-2008. On Wednesday, April 26, former patrons  will gather at WOSU Public Media’s Ross Community Studio to share stories about the bar and the role it played in the lesbian, queer and trans community across the decades. Immediately following the event, a panel discussion with current bar owners and patrons will take place. 6:30 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance: https://www.tickettailor.com/…/friendsofsummi…/869131…

Thursday, April 27. Women of Achievement Award Reception for Chris Cozad. LBA’s board president receives the 2023 YWCA Columbus Women of Achievement award in a celebration at the Stonewall Art Gallery. Enjoy the art, community, open wine and beer service, and light hors d’oeuvres. https://fb.me/e/2zMoS0M8L

Friday, April 28, The Black & Tan Enlightened Comedy Tour featuring Karen Williams and Mimi Gonzalez. Hold on to your seats for raucous laughter and insights from two premier lesbian performers, one night only in Columbus, Ohio. Tickets are $40, use paypal.me/olf2019 or paypal.me/hahainstitute (use Family & Friends option) All tickets will be held at Will Call. The show starts at 7 p.m. (doors at 6:00 p.m.) This event will take place at Open Door Gallery. ASL interpreted. https://fb.me/e/449I4uA1y

Saturday, April 29, Stop-n-Shop at City Folk’s Farm Shop. 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. City Folk’s Farm Shop offers a wide variety of homesteading supplies, including everything needed for gardening, beekeeping and raising backyard chickens. It also features a selection of locally produced products and artisanal goods, as well as unique gifts. Located at 4760 North High Street in Columbus. www.cityfolksfarmshop.com

Saturday, April 29, Meet & Greet at Rumours Bar. Rumours is a new, lesbian-owned bar located on the south side of Columbus. Stop by for a drink, a bite to eat and to celebrate & revel in the lesbian community. 4 p.m.-8 p.m., 1071 Parsons Avenue, Columbus OH. www.rumours614.com

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