Prizm News / March 1, 2019 / By Bob Vitale
Best wishes to a friend who makes the world a more loving and beautiful place.
Commentary By Bob Vitale
We’ve all faced adversity as LGBTQ people, and we all react to it in different ways. Put me in the get-mad-and-get-even category. It comes from 32 years as a journalist and 54 years as an Italian.
I admire people who turn adversity into action. When then-Gov. John Kasich said in 2017 that he wasn’t aware of any discrimination taking place because of people’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, the folks at Equality Ohio organized people who’ve lost jobs, been kicked out of apartments or refused service by businesses to share their stories with him in the form of weekly letters.
I’ve seen members of our community stand up before their mayors, their legislators, their school principals and priests, speaking truth to the same power that has rarely listened to them in the past.
I’ve cried with people who’ve shared stories of being attacked physically by strangers or abused emotionally by family. Their strength—first just to survive, then to use their experience to help us all—always inspires me.
Staley Munroe always inspires me, too.
If you’ve met Prizm’s creative director, chances are you love her almost as much as I do. Heck, my sister and sister-in-law love her and they’ve only met her through Facebook.
She’s smart. She’s creative. She’s skilled, and she’s talented. She’s also one of the most gracious people I’ve ever known. When I marveled once at her Photoshop skills on a photo of me that runs every month in Prizm—the one where I have one chin and a lovely complexion—she politely replied that she really didn’t do all that much.
But it goes beyond her ability to make me look presentable.
Staley’s grace belies what she has gone through in her life. She’s been homeless and hungry. She’s been shunned and isolated. I was with her once when she called someone she dearly loves to share a bit of happy news. I listened as her loved one purposely misgendered her.
In case that person is reading this, I’ll say what I told Staley that day: The people who love you have no reason to feel anything but pride in who you are.
We’ve traveled all over Ohio together to conduct interviews and photo shoots. When we stopped one fall day at a gas station/Subway along I-71 outside Columbus, Staley grabbed my arm as she often does when she wants an escort, and we walked in with her dress flowing behind us. She ordered her sandwich fixin’s in grand style and chatted up pretty much everyone working and waiting in line.
Back in the car, she told me she does that sometimes when she feels uneasy. It throws people off and makes it difficult for them to hate her.
But it doesn’t always stop them.
When I pulled the car around once on a cold afternoon in Cleveland, she shared with me how a group of teenagers had just harassed her. She took solace in the one girl who told her friends to stop.
Last year at the Human Rights Campaign gala in Cincinnati, she endured an elevator ride at the casino with a family that looked nowhere near as glamorous as she did but felt the need to try to humiliate her anyway.
I cry when Staley tells me these things because she deserves every bit of love that she puts out into the world. I cry when she tells me these things because I know they happen all too often to her and others.
But what I love most about Staley—what I love most about our whole big, beautiful community—is how she holds her head high and always moves forward.
Staley is getting married this month, to a great guy who shares her faith and spirituality, her love of music, her passion and creativity and good cheer.
I wish her all the happiness she deserves.
Bob Vitale is the editor of Prizm. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.