COLUMBUS, Ohio—Many think of the Stonewall riots in New York when they think of LGBTQ history, but LGBTQ history is everywhere— and central Ohio is no exception.

  • New book explores LGBTQ history in Columbius
  • Features items from author's personal collections
  • Authors hope people see LGBTQ history as a part of Ohio history

“We've been here and we'll continue to be here, and continue to be an important part of the community,” said Shane McClelland, LGBTQ Columbus co-author.

McClelland and his co-author Ken Schneck released a photo book called LGBTQ Columbus through Arcadia publishing. It's the second in a series by Schneck on LGBTQ history in Ohio's three major cities.

He says revisiting the history is emotional.

“It quickly conveyed to me how important it was to preserve this work because it wasn't being preserved in any cohesive way,” said Schneck.

LGBTQ Columbus was released during Pride Month this year.

Schneck says that many of the items featured came from personal collections.

“It was incredible! I would go from a trans woman's attic, to a lesbian's basement, to this gay guy's photo album that was underneath all these stacks,” said Schneck. “And they would tell all of these stories.”

Others came from the Gay Ohio History Initiative or GOHI at the Ohio History Connection.

“I think people would be surprised that we collect these materials, simply by the fact that historically museums have not collected this, and have underrepresented certain experiences in their programming, in their exhibits in their collections,” said Eric Feingold, GOHI curator. “So, I think just by the nature of us collecting and sharing these materials may be a surprise to some.”

GOHI includes hundreds of pieces— everything from flyers advertising meetings or events, to pictures from Prides past.

And—a special donation from the loved ones of Columbus LGBTQ icon David Zimmer, provide some color and sparkle.

“David was well known in Columbus and elsewhere for his performances in drag as Dolly Devine,” said Feingold. “David was also well known because he and others started an event known as the Berwick Ball.

Costume pieces— like specialty sequined shoes and a feather headpiece—were items worn by Zimmer to the balls.

Feingold says that the Berwick Ball was a regular Halloween event that began in the 60’s through the 90s, but its location was kept secret for much of that time because of anti-sodomy and cross-dressing laws.

“You know, the Berwick Ball was more than a party... it was an example and form of resistance to some of these forces that were at play,” said Feingold

And now in 2019, the writers of LGBTQ Columbus hope people see LGBTQ history as a part of Ohio history, especially LGBTQ youth. 

“There’s all these younger generations that can have something tangible that they can see that the community has lasted a long time,” said McClelland. “Or they can walk through a bookstore and suddenly there is the book about the community they’re a part of.”