Cornett: Bridging the LGBT gapWritten by Rick Cornett | | CountryConnection@toledofreepress.com
I first became associated with Toledo Free Press in 2010. Feeling the newspaper wasn’t giving Toledo’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community enough coverage, I shot off an email to then-Editor in Chief Michael Miller.
I didn’t expect to receive a response, but within minutes — and I do mean minutes — he responded with a quick and friendly note asking if we could meet for lunch and discuss my concerns.
At that first meeting we became fast friends and he offered me a job writing this OK 2B Gay column to represent the local gay community. As we talked, I told him about the Holiday with Heart Charity Gayla, for which I’m a committee member, and he offered the support of TFP as an official media sponsor for the event.
With the mainstream support of the paper, attendance grew and this now-38-year-old event started to gain respect, legitimacy and corporate sponsorship.
In 2011, TFP began endorsing another Toledo LGBT cause that is dear to my heart when I helped link them up with the annual Toledo Pride festival and parade and they became the official media sponsor for this event as well.
Toledo Pride debuted in 2010 with a little over 1,500 people in attendance at the Erie Street Market. Last year, the event at Promenade Park saw an attendance of almost 15,000.
Over the past five years, I’m happy to say, TFP has covered many LGBT issues beyond my column and featured cover stories on gay marriage, Opera Ain’t No Drag, Holiday with Heart Charity Gayla, Toledo Pride, transgender issues and more.
I’m very honored and proud that I could serve as the bridge between Toledo’s LGBT community and TFP. Toledo is currently without a local monthly magazine or newspaper that represents the gay community, but TFP offers us a voice, with regular coverage of the people, places and events that affect us.
I would also like to point out I’m helping TFP distribute Outlook magazine in the Toledo market. Outlook is a monthly LGBT publication based in Columbus that covers the entire state of Ohio. This glossy magazine is packed with news, events, a bar guide and information on statewide issues. As a contributing writer, I supply them with news on the Toledo market.
When Miller decided to leave TFP last year, I feared the support for the gay community would lessen within the publication. My worries were unwarranted as new Editor in Chief Sarah Ottney is also an ally and friend, as is publisher Tom Pounds.
I’m happy I sent off that email rant five years ago asking TFP to respect and honor the local LGBT community. When we open our minds, hands and hearts, great things happen for all involved.
Happy Birthday, Toledo Free Press! I’m honored to be a part of this Toledo tradition that has lasted 10 years now.
Rick Cornett is a historian, activist and promoter of the Toledo LGBT community serving on the Holiday with Heart Charity and Toledo Pride committees.