We never want you to swallow your pride…unless it’s food. This year, eateries and drinkeries across the city are showing their pride with new menu items offered this month early. So, get out there and swallow your pride, literally!
Hangover Easy | University District and Olde Towne East
No matter what you call them—flapjacks, hot cakes, pancakes, yummy breakfast circles—HOE’s festive menu items will have your tummy celebrating Pride in the most satisfied way possible.
C.Krueger’s | 17 Brickel St, Columbus
How sweet are the new Pride cookies at C.Krueger’s bake shop?! You’ll be the hero of the party when you show up with a box of these cuties before the parade this Saturday.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams | Multiple Locations
n celebration of #PrideMonth, Jeni’s is partnering with our favorite drag queen, long-time friend, and fellow ice cream loverNina West on a very special, very limited flavor in our shops: NINA WEST’S DREAM PUFF.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
BrewDog USA | Multiple Locations
This Pride, BrewDog is honoring Nina West with Elevengendary: Tart Wheat Ale with Butterfly Pea Flower. Proceeds benefitting the Nina West Foundation. Available June 14th at all 3 BrewDog bars.
native AJ Casey brings over 25 years of experience to her new
position as the Executive Director of Stonewall Columbus. This month
she let us become part of her busy June preparations to help us shape
our Pride cover package and we can’t thank her enough.
excites you about your new position at Stonewall?
excites me most is that it truly is a brand-new day at Stonewall
Columbus. Not only do we have new leadership, but we have a new
building, new board members and limitless new opportunities to engage
with the LGBTQ+ family throughout the city and county. We are focused
on being a catalyst for positive growth and are adamant in the
pursuit of a united and thriving community.
new facility offers 15,000 square feet of light-filled space that is
just begging for creative new programs and services. We’re
partnering with organizations such as Equality Ohio to provide free
legal clinics; and North Central Mental Health Services to offer
LGBTQ+-friendly counseling. And there is so much more room for
creative, engaging programs that I can’t help but be excited about
the good that can happen here.
38 years, Stonewall Columbus is still the largest and only LGBTQ+
community center in central Ohio. As we move forward, we are
fostering relationships to ensure that everyone in the extended
LGBTQ+ family can experience Stonewall Columbus as theircommunity
me about the work of your parents and how it has shaped you and your
parents were very active in the Civil Rights Movement. My mother was
an organizer and get-out-the-vote activist. My father was an attorney
and one of the first African American men to be appointed Assistant
US District Attorney during the Kennedy administration. Dad’s
career was centered on eliminating discrimination in public schools,
police departments and state-run construction projects. My parents
taught each of their three children (I’m the middle child) the
power of confidence when the world rejects you and the necessity of
excellence to forge personal success.
own work is informed by the ongoing struggle for equality. My
life—as black, female and lesbian of a certain age—places me in
multiple social, gender and political intersections. The consistent
driver throughout my career has been visionary
I have mastered skills that allow me to help people initiate change
in themselves, their organizations and communities. I am a perennial
student of this work and I have invested decades in honing my craft.
seen many steps forward and several steps back in LGBTQ+ inclusion
and rights in just the past few years. Where do we go from here?
the LGBTQ+ family, progress encourages us and setbacks strengthen our
resolve. For example, recently, nearly 100 LGBTQ+ advocates showed up
at the Ohio Statehouse for hearings around the proposed Ohio Fairness
Act (Senate Bill 11) and hundreds more submitted written testimony in
support. The bill, if passed, would add LGBTQ people to the laws
which make discrimination illegal.
the public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, one
advocate reminded the senators how long people within the LGBTQ+
community have been fighting for this law. “We’ve been showing up
for decades in support of these rights,” he said. “And we will
until we share equally in the rights of all Ohio citizens!” So, if
the question is “Where do we go from here?” the answer is an
keep showing up
until we help create a society, a city, a state where all
the LGBTQ+ community in Columbus finds strength in being a large
community, it is also a community with lines of division. How can we
be more intentional about reaching out to and including more people?
must be intentional about reaching out to and including more people.
Stonewall, that means that we are deliberate to about diversity and
inclusion. We show it at the board level, the staff level, in our
volunteer outreach and in our programs & events. We constantly
ask ourselves who else we can bring to the table to ensure that our
biggest plans are as welcoming and inclusive as possible.
think that inclusion is about building relationships, not numbering
participants. It’s not just about having people of diverse
backgrounds or identities in the same space. It’s about how those
assembled in that space combine their collective genius to create
more powerful outcomes. Inclusion requires us to demonstrate what Dr.
King described as “a heart full of grace and a soul generated by
I also have to quote RuPaul here. At the end of each episode of
Ru says “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna
love somebody else?” I believe that outreach and inclusion
therefore require a dedicated practice of building self-confidence,
self-acceptance and self-love. These practices have been a part of my
personal journey and been prominent in my career. I intend that they
will play some part in how we move forward and pursue a heightened
sense of unity as an LGBTQ+ family.
met your partner at Pride. Tell me about how that happened.
Tracy Walker was one of the performers at Columbus Pride in 2016. I
didn’t see her perform and hadn’t heard of her except to read her
bio in the Pride
we both ended up in the performers’ VIP tent that Friday night. It
was already dark outside when we struck up a casual conversation
standing in the glow of a string of white lights. Something about
the glow around her made her appear angelic to me. Two minutes later,
Tracy moved in to stand real close to me. That’s when I knew that
this was more than a casual conversation! That was three years ago
this Pride. We’ve been standing close in the glow of each other’s
light ever since.
the power of Pride. It is the perfect intersection of authentic
personality and extended community. At Pride, people can discover
themselves, explore new ideas and—sometimes—find true love.
you’re not an activist/nonprofit leader/director, what can you be
found doing? Reading
leadership books and books about world religions or philosophy.
Traveling to beaches and bask in the sun. Shopping.
Columbus might be
viewed as a cornfield in the Midwest to the rest of the world, but
what they might not know is we have the third-largest Pride
celebration in America, giving major cities like San Francisco and
New York a run for their money. In way of celebrating all the city is
championing this month, this extended calendar is your guide to Pride
with art exhibits, parades, festivals, and so much more for you to
sink your teeth in.
Pride At The
Wexner Center For The Arts
The Wexner Center
For The Arts will
be featuring two artists whose work touches on LGBTQ+ lives. Starting
June 1 until September, Alicia
McCarthy: No Straight Lines will
be on showcase where her abstract takes on punk and queer subcultures
is highlighted through various styles of media such as graffiti and
found or recycled items. Additionally, Barbara
work will also be on display with Sensual
June 13 which features her experimental abilities. Just a short week
later, another variety of Hammer’s work, Political
will be shown. Of the different works in the 100-minute video
compilation is Would
You Like To Meet Your Neighbor?—an
exploration through hidden queer histories.
Loud and Proud Tour – Columbus 2019 Pride After Party June 13 @ TRISM
Even before parade festivities kick off on Pride weekend, you can get the party started at one of campus’ most popular event spaces for a party raging from 9 p.m. Thursday night to 2 a.m. Friday morning. Join hosts Karin and Skyler and hit the dance floor for an LGBTQ+ DJ lineup that includes Kandy, Cristy Lawrence and Skyler Madison. Tickets are just $10, so get yours quick.
Columbus Pride Tea Dance June 14 @ BrewDog in Franklinton
What other Pride event offers the opportunity to bump shoulders with a Grey’s Anatomy star? Join the hit show’s Ohio-born Jake Borelli on the breathtaking rooftop bar at Brewdog’s Franklinton location for drinks and dancing. The Tea Dance is a reference to secret afternoon speakeasy meetups among the LGBTQ+ community in the 1950s and 1960s, but make no mistake, this event is all about letting your pride be seen and heard from the highest reaches of downtown.
Unity Ball June 15 @ Axis
At Axis’s 18th annual Unity Ball, you can have a blast celebrating Pride without feeling guilty about the money you blew through when you wake up hungover. The last 17 years of the event have raised over $1 million for local charities and LGBTQ+ civic groups. The $20 tickets also include admission to Dragapalooza, making this one of the hottest tickets in town over Pride weekend.
Columbus Pride Brunch June 16 @ Greater Columbus Convention Center
We know you’ll be getting hammered for Pride weekend, so why not start your Sunday recovery by getting some quality food in your system. Brunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Convention Center while Andrew Levitt, aka Nina West, will be honored. Levitt, a Columbus-native, placed sixth on season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. What better way to wind down Pride than a hearty meal and the chance to meet a local celeb? •
Of course, the big celebration that rivals NYC is Stonewall’s Parade on June 15 which steps off at Poplar Ave. and High St. Furthermore, you can join in on the fun on June 14 and 15 with Stonewall’s Pride Festival at Bicentennial and Genoa Park. But what’s a party without an afterparty? The official after-party for both days of Pride this year is hosted at Ms. Vikki’s Restaurant & Banquet Hall. There are VIP tickets available which secure you a table, allow you to skip the lines, and receive complimentary drinks for the night. However, Stonewall isn’t your only chance to celebrate Pride in Columbus. Community Pride will be hosting a variety of events such as a Spoken Word and Live Arts and Performances event at The Vanderelli Room on June 4. The schedule slate for Community Pride also includes a Queer Club Night on June 7 and a Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion on June 11. For more details about Community Pride’s events, speakers, and locations, stay tuned to their website at columbuscommunitypride.org.
What can we add to the cultural explosion that is Nina West? A homecoming Pride Parade to welcome home our queen from the RuPaul’s Drag Race runway and congratulate her on her new EP Drag is Magic for children. For 18 years, Andrew Levitt as Nina West has performed, entertained, encouraged, empowered, advocated, and given back in more ways than we can count. (Although one tangible place to start might be the $2 million that The Nina West Foundation has raised for local and national charities that provide services to the LGBTQ+ community, as well as children and family charities.) (614) is pleased to share the insights of this amazing performer at such a career-defining moment.
Thank you, your majesty, for everything you have done, and for everything we look forward to from you in the future.
Tell me about your background and how it has channeled
your activism. Correspondingly, how has drag created
opportunities for you?
I started becoming really involved in my community as a child, volunteering with my family. That continued when I began school at Denison University, as service is a pillar of the school. When I attended college, I had my own story of bullying—and I never wanted anyone else to have to feel that. So, wanting to give back and protect became my focus to help younger queer people like me.
The art form of drag is where you get to create the world you want to live in. You have freedom to create characters that demonstrate what you really want to say. Along those lines, you also get to create your own opportunities. When I first started drag, no one wanted to book a queen at their event. I was forced to create opportunities for myself to be on stage. As pop culture has embraced drag, I have benefited from the swell of mainstream popularity; but I have never forgotten that in order to do specific projects I want, I have to create those opportunities for myself and collaborate with brilliant and open-minded folks who share a similar vision.
You have a commitment to old-school camp. How has your experience on RuPaul’s Drag Race shaped you as a performer? Has it refined your act? Made you more experimental or competitive?
RPDR is the greatest stage for drag—it is also drag’s toughest bootcamp. I learned that it is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks! At the end of this experience, I am reminded that someone like me—with years of experience and knowledge—brings a tremendous amount of worth to the competition. Drag Race has reminded me that you’re never too old to dream, and this opportunity has given me the ability to create things that 10 year-old Andrew would have never thought was possible. The show hasn’t refined my act; rather, it has reaffirmed my voice. I have always felt that I was an experimental artist, and have always seen myself as being competitive. But the show’s critiques allowed me to receive and apply feedback that I had not previously been in a position to take.
The theme of Columbus Pride this year is “The Power of Pride.” How do you feel that you and your work embodies this theme?
I believe my career is a living example of the power of pride. Not to sound simplistic, but I feel like a phoenix that rose out of the ashes. I could have [gone] in a myriad of different directions after college—including dark places, like suicide. Rather, I chose to surround myself with other queer leaders and artists that helped me develop a strong sense of pride in myself and this community—and I hope I’m a part of that continuing legacy today.
In the excitement of the moment, have you thought about the future? Where do you see yourself going?
This is the most exciting time for my career. I am learning to quickly readjust and allow for the multiple dreams and priorities to shift. I’ve waited for these opportunities for so long, and all the doors are opening at once. It feels hard to keep up! It feels incredible for people to see me on TV, and then continue to help spread my message of pride and kindness in their own circles. It is astonishing to me this recent social media push to see me on SNL—and I would welcome that opportunity! I am passionate about working with children, and so continuing to create work around inclusive children’s music, books, and animation is a dream I’m currently getting to live out. I welcome any possibilities that allow me to continue to advocate for the silenced, while compelling real change through this art form. •
To learn more about the Nina West Foundation, visit ninawest.com.