Prizm News / December 1, 2018 / By Bob Vitale
Lucas Parsons-Moughler, 13, walks in the Akron Pride Parade, kicked off the second annual Akron Pride Festival. (Prizm photo by Austin Mariasy)

A recap of successes and stories from 2018 brings a bit of holiday cheer.


Commentary by Bob Vitale

Like in most conversations these days, we avoided politics until we knew we were on the same page. Her clue came when I mentioned that I worked for an LGBTQ magazine.

“Oh my god. Tell me something to feel good about,” she said. It was a week after the election, and I knew at that moment it didn’t go totally the way she wanted, either. The results in most other places made the results here in Ohio all the more disheartening. It feels like we’re not really a swing state anymore, doesn’t it? Our politics now match our Buckeyes sweatshirts: bright red.

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Her need to have something hopeful to hold onto, though, helped me a bit, too. I started telling her about some of the stories we’ve shared this year in Prizm:

Springfield, South Euclid and Cuyahoga County outlawed discrimination based on people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s part of an effort by Equality Ohio and local activists to bypass a conservative state legislature that’s ignoring a bill supported by 69 percent of the people they represent. (I was asked to write a story about the trend for Them, a national online queer magazine, in November.)

Lakewood banned the dangerous and discredited practice of “conversion therapy” for minors, and the state agency that licenses 40,000 counselors, social workers and family therapists issued a warning in November that anyone who tries to change a patient’s sexual orientation or gender identity could lose their professional license.

• Cleveland and Toledo joined Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton in the top tier of U.S. cities whose policies toward LGBTQ people are reviewed annually by the Human Rights Campaign. Ohio had more cities with the top score than any other state except California.

But as always, I look back most fondly at the people we met who entrusted us to share their stories with you. Our writers told the stories of LGBTQ Ohioans and how they fell in love, how they’re raising their families, how they’ve built their businesses, and how they’re sharing their artistic gifts with the world.

As an old political reporter, I found myself personally inspired by the 11 LGBTQ Ohioans who put themselves before their fellow citizens as candidates for office this year. Ten of them lost their races, but each of them ran honest, issue-oriented campaigns that we all can be proud of.

In August, I sat in an Akron coffee shop with Lis Kenneth Regula, who was the first transgender Ohioan to seek public office. He told me about his experience at a local festival in Portage County, where he was running for auditor. In what seemed to him to be a coordinated effort, several people approached him that day and addressed him with misgendered terms.

I begged him to let me write about it at the time, but he declined. He shouldered that indignity—as so many in our community do—and continued on with his work. The biology professor taught me that day about scientific origins of the term cis; I still have the diagram he drew in my notebook.

So despite the November election results in Ohio, there’s still a lot to feel good about at year’s end. Our community has accomplished things to make us all—on paper at least—safer and more secure. And through our own lives—at work, at home and out in the world—we are living the change we wish to see.

Happy holidays and best wishes to all.

Bob Vitale
A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, Bob has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.