New Round of Resignations from Stonewall Columbus
In light of SWC’s lack of response to last weekends events, the lackluster response by The SWC Board of Trustees and the resignation of Lori Gum yesterday as Pride and Program Coordinator of SWC the following has been sent on behalf of the signed Pride Committee and PIT crew members. Elizabeth Well Sabrina Boykin Steve Brazil Janie Boykin Hughes Matt Thomas Rah Loudermilk Mark E Moore Jon Houze Mea Anderson Ryan Dittoe
To the Stonewall Board of Trustees,
We, the undersigned, write to inform you of our frustration, disappointment, and anger with the lack of appropriate response to the abuse of queer people of color—members of our community and family—that took place at the Pride Parade Saturday June 17th. This event is the pinnacle moment in a significant history of complacent inaction from the Board and executive leadership regarding the treatment of people of color in the LGBTQ community. We can no longer stand behind the Board of Stonewall Columbus and Executive Director Karla Rothan, nor can we continue participating in the planning of an event that is not truly inclusive of all members of our community. The Stonewall Board unequivocally demonstrated this week that they have no interest or desire to affect meaningful change in our community. This is evident in their lack of response to the events that took place during the parade and in the subpar response by Stonewall Board President Tom McCartney on Friday June 23rd. It is also painfully clear that a larger discussion needs to happen and that the Stonewall Columbus Board and the Executive Director, Karla Rothan, have little interest in having said conversation.
Only Lori Gum, Pride Festival Coordinator and SWC Program Coordinator, has taken steps to protect and defend the marginalized populations in our community, and that courage of her convictions has now cost her job. It was Lori (in collaboration with other like minded SWC employees) who conceived and developed programs that serve the underserved populations in our community—veterans, those who are incarcerated, people of color, and the trans community. It is Lori who was strong enough to take a stand and her livelihood has now suffered as a result.
And it was Lori who brought the Pride Committee and PIT Crew together, unified us, and made us a family. Now our family will speak with one voice and denounce SWC’s response to the victimization of queer and trans people of color.
It has been made apparent to us, through the lack of communication and action from the board, that there is not an interest in doing what is right. The Board has become nothing more than a social club to court donors and elevate the status of its members. This is evident by the lack of involvement in the main event of Stonewall Columbus (Pride), the lack of transparency and accountability to the community, the lack of interest in progress, and the continued support of a leader who has, time and time again, demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to comprehend and respond to the pain and outcry of marginalized people within our community.
It is because of this inaction and because of our support for Lori Gum that the following decision has been made. We, as Pride committee and PIT crew members, will no longer lend our talents and time to the planning of the Pride Festival and Parade, the main fundraiser of the year for SWC, unless the resignations of the Board’s executive committee (Dr. Tom McCartney, Bill Ruffner, Roger Dudley and Robert Podlogar) and Executive Director Karla Rothan are tendered. Also, we demand acknowledgement of this letter from the board as well as a response. Furthermore, we strongly feel that a person of color or a person with a deep, empirical understanding of the intersectionality between race, queerness, and privilege should be appointed interim Executive Director.
The future leadership of SWC needs to represent the interests of all marginalized LGBTQ individuals and not just the interests of those already privileged. After all, how can we come together each year to celebrate, funding SWC in doing so, while knowing that SWC does not understand or represent the interests of all of our community?
Your 2017 Pride Planning Committee Members
Elizabeth Well Lauren Dupuis Sabrina BoykinSteve Brazil
Janie Boykin Tommy Good Matt GrimmRahmeen Ingram
Mark Moore Mea Anderson Victoria Tovar Jon Houze
Ryan Dittoe Austin Reid
Brian Zuber Heather Killian
source: Facebook post to Outlook Ohio