Ben Anthony, Community Engagement Coordinator
Ohio History Connection
In 2006, Outlook Media and The Ohio History Connection (formerly The Ohio Historical Society) created the Gay Ohio History Initiative or GOHI. This partnership was one of the first of its kind and was created to collect, preserve, and share the contributions of the LGBTQ community to Ohio’s collective history. GOHI aims to be the central hub for LGBTQ history across Ohio through our collections, outreach and partnerships.
From its inception, GOHI has been designed as a grass root, community-led effort. The LGBTQ community of Ohio should be empowered to tell their narrative throughout history rather than a narrative being imposed on the community. We have had success connecting with the LGBTQ community in Central Ohio, but it is time for GOHI be a home for LGBTQ history for all Ohioans. GOHI is connecting with community organizations, archives, and social networks across the state to learn about and promote important LGBTQ stories.
Growing our community-based and community-lead collection is critical. No one journal, picture or artifact can tell the story of Ohio’s LGBTQ past. It is only through a robust and diverse collection that Ohio’s LGBTQ narrative can be properly preserved. The Ohio History Connection’s curatorial staff and preservation experts ensure that the collection is treated with the utmost care and discretion so it can be preserved for generations to come. The collection currently has a good deal of items from the 80’s and 90’s. We are looking for older items as well as those that tell personal stories. Event memorabilia has its place in the collection, but to convey honest, human stories we are seeking journals, photographs, clothing and anything else that tells the story of Ohio’s LGBTQ individuals through time. People often think that items from their past don’t have “historical value”. However, It is the story of everyday people that best tell the struggles and triumphs of history. For example, a Civil War cannon may be a visually appealing piece in a museum, but it is the personal journal of the private on the battlefield that gives us the most compelling and personal understanding of the times. We are always looking to grow the GOHI collection so if you think you have something to donate please contact Eric Feingold the curator for the GOHI collection at The Ohio History Connection ([email protected] or 614-297-2072). It is Outlook’s voice in the community and GOHI’s continued outreach efforts that will allow a rich, personalized narrative to be created with the GOHI collection.
GOHI will also act as a resource to empower and encourage local history organizations. We want our partners to discover LGBTQ history in their own collections and areas. Great local resources such as the Lesbian Archives in Cincinnati or The Western Reserve Historical Society’s LGBTQ archives in Cleveland can be given a voice through GOHI to spur greater involvement in a community’s local LGBTQ history. GOHI will continue to make partnerships across Ohio and is always looking for ways to encourage local gay history discovery and sharing. We will also partner with the educational community by creating quality professional development for K-12 social studies and history teachers to incorporate Ohio’s LGBTQ history in the classroom.
Beginning this month, the GOHI column in Outlook will be a place to share Ohio’s LGBTQ history and GOHI’s efforts to support it. We look forward to sharing a rich past that many of us still have yet to discover. The column will discuss items in the GOHI collection and the stories they tell. We will team up with our local history partners to describe the resources available in your area. Most importantly, we will work together to continue discovering and sharing Ohio’s LGBTQ history. As GOHI grows across Ohio we are always looking to connect and partner with new organizations and people. Is there a place or person in Ohio’s LGBTQ history we should look into? Should we come to your organizations next meeting or event? Let us know!
If you would like to donate, get involved or know more about GOHI please contact Ben Anthony at The Ohio History Connection ([email protected] or 614-297-2476).