Kevin “Coco” Galownia, Secretary

What makes us who we are…
NHC Board members share their thoughts and experiences.

October 1998.  I stood terrified outside a gay bar in downtown Columbus, Ohio.  My legs were shaking. I was terrified. I grew up in a time and place where just the thought of being gay brought ridicule.  All images were negative, all news was negative, anything “gay” was negative. I was at the end of my rope. I shared my story with one gay friend, who took my hand and walked me into that bar, into a community of people living their true lives. 

I have since grown very much as a person since then and anybody that did not know me before I came out most likely cannot even fathom a closeted Coco.  

One of the biggest joys at this point in my life is New Hope, the community I call home, New Hope.  I love where I live. I love diversity and acceptance. I love the wonderful people. 

In my opinion, New Hope is at an inflection point in its history with the closing of the Raven. The Raven is very special to me and my husband, Mark. It played a huge part in our wedding weekend in September 2018 and its demolition causes an incredible amount of sadness.  

We cannot change the decision, but we can choose how we react to it.  We can work together to support all efforts to find our space and to make all of New Hope safe space to all who need it.  We can help fill the void through creativity, partnerships, and community. We need to come together more than ever to find our path forward and build it. and we all control where we go from here.  

New Hope Celebrates has given me the opportunity to help make a difference in our community and beyond.  From the wonderful events, we have throughout the year that bring the community together and allow people to be their true selves in a safe and accepting environment brings me joy that I wish I had available to me as a youth.  To see the young people experiencing such events melts my heart because it you just feel that happiness they have in those moments. That is meaningful. That makes a difference.

I have also been fortunate as a part of the organization to interact with people around the world, sharing our experiences and learning from theirs.  To understand the challenges our community is facing, seeing how organizations like NHC around the country and the world are tackling such issues, and sharing not only our challenges but the wonderful community we are so blessed to live in has been rewarding beyond belief.  

While strengthening our community, we serve as a source of inspiration and admiration for people around the world, people for whom being “different” makes daily living a challenge.  Hearing from people that live in places where being LGBTQ+ is criminalized is humbling and eye-opening and, quite honestly, not uncommon.  

In New Hope and, as I have learned, across the US and even around the world, New Hope Celebrates stands for something very special. I am very proud to be a supporter and member.  We hope you will get involved too to help promote our mission, enhance our community, and make even one person’s life just a little easier.

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