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Columbus Pride Submissions: Keith Michael

Columbus Pride Submissions: Keith Michael

614now Staff

The LGBTQ+ community is strong, powerful, seen and heard here in Columbus. And 614 wanted to take the month of PRIDE and give the cover section over to our loud and proud LGBTQ+ Columbus crowd with their unedited copy, poems, art, photos, stories, and more about their experience here in the capital city. From love to heartbreak and everything in between, you get to hear directly from the people who make up this vibrant group about how they view the world and their place in it. Start flipping the pages to check out what the folks living happily and PRIDE-fully here in Central Ohio have to say. Happy PRIDE month, Columbus!


By Keith Michael

1-70 East to 315 North to the Neil Avenue exit. I turned left. As I rounded the corner, the squealing tires on my Mini Cooper must have been as excited as me to be leaving my hometown.

The first building on my right; that giant, dilapidated half church/half castle-like building on the corner (you know the one) sharing my small-town sentiments; gorgeous, but forgotten.

A warm greeting from an up-and-coming Short North (when it was fun and exciting but you could still get shot) made a bright-eyed 23-year-old me giddy with hope and anticipation.

Goodbye, Small-Town, Ohio. Hello, Columbus.

C-Bus had my heart from the start. What’s not to love? Small-town vibes in a big city. Back then Havana, Union and Wall Street were home to a kid who could go to a bar thinking only of the good time to be had. Thirteen years later, as a small-business owner in the Short North, I can’t walk into any thriving business without focusing on all of the hard work and sacrifice it takes to run that business. And the Short North is teeming with them. Columbus pride.

As long as I’ve lived here, living anywhere but downtown has never been an option. It never will be. It’s been a love-hate relationship; me and the city. One moment a big hug from the gay community (a night out meeting new friends and finding my way), the next, a gay bashing at Ladies 80’s. Still can’t wrap my brain around what exactly it was about me that made those four men bash my head into the ground and kick me while I was down. Too happy? Too me? Something triggered. But it hasn’t been just me. And it hasn’t been just one instance. That happened to a lot of us back then. That still happens now.

The fastest way back into Victorian Village from the highway is the Neil Avenue exit. “The prettiest street in the world,” you’ve heard me repeat if you’ve been with me on a walk or ride down the Sycamore-lined street. The more I travel, the more comparisons.

I grew up in Columbus, and that time has taught me a lot. Life can be fickle, mean, and catty. Life can be charming, dazzling, and fun. Life is fragile. Life is hard. Life is all-encompassing.

But for me, what stands out most is how non-surprising the surprises can be.


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