Fanning the flames: Buckeye Flame reports on the issues and experiences of Ohio’s LGBTQ+ community

Ohio’s only comprehensive LGBTQ+ magazine has made its debut, and The Buckeye Flame is taking the issues and concerns of the community it serves to heart.

The Flame debuted in late June under the leadership of Cleveland-based author, Baldwin Wallace University education professor, and editor (and FreshWater contributing writer) Ken Schneck, who is charged with creating engaging content that covers LGBTQ+ battles, victories, and experiences throughout the state.

Schneck worked for Prizm Magazine before the publication folded in March after coronavirus hit Ohio. He says the only other LGBTQ+ periodical in Ohio is Kent State University’s Fusion Magazine.

“Other than that, there aren’t any other LGBTQ+ news and views platforms,” says Schneck. “There’s so much going on in the state, and Buckeye Flame is making sure we’re covering it across Ohio.”

Schneck says the nonprofit publication attempts to deliver a comprehensive, state-wide view of the topics that affect Ohio’s LGBTQ+ community. The Buckeye Flame publishes online rolling content throughout the week—with a minimum of five stories a week—which are compiled in “Spark,” an email newsletter that goes out to subscribers every Thursday.

And while many in publishing industry encouraged him to drop the “Buckeye” from the title, Schneck wants to be clear that The Buckeye Flame is focused on Ohio.

“We are staying in our lane and stay with our brand—we are LGBTQ+ and excited and inspired to stay there,” he explains. “Our goal really is to stay focused on LGBTQ+ Ohio; we’re not looking to be a publication covering national issues unless they have a direct connection to our community here in state. When people think of where they can go to be more informed about LGBTQ+ Ohio, we want them to think of us.”

Whether its covering laws before Ohio’s legislature, human rights issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community, or sharing the stories of success and celebration, Schneck says The Buckeye Flame will cover it.

“There is so much work to do, but so much celebrating to do too,” Schneck says. “We want to celebrate our voices in a positive way.”

For instance, there are five bills currently before the Ohio legislature—three viewed as positive action (The Ohio Fairness Act, a bill to designate June as Pride Month in Ohio, and a bill banning conversion therapy on minors), and two seen as negative (H.B. 513, which targets LGBTQ+ youth, and H.B. 527, which aims at transgender athletes.

Conversely, Schneck says some of his favorite stories have been the encouraging ones. “A few weeks back, my bully from high school randomly called me after 25 years and I penned a few words about that which really struck a nerve with readers,” he says. “What’s great about The Buckeye Flame is that the bully piece was preceded by an interview with an inspiring out, bisexual 24-year-old running for the Ohio Statehouse in Lorain County, and followed by commentary from a community leader in Columbus urging white LGBTQ+ Ohioans to do more for racial justice.

“That’s exactly the variety of content we have set out to provide to the community.”

The Buckeye Flame had 10,000 views in its first month. The publication has now received 15,000 views and more than 10,000 unique visitors. Schneck says they plan to only keep growing.

When people think of where they can go to be more informed about LGBTQ+ Ohio, we want them to think of us," says Schneck. "We want to continue to provide a forum with minimal barriers for LGBTQ+ Ohioans to write commentary about their lived experiences. And we want people across the country to know the breadth and passion of individuals working towards equality here in a state where we do not have full protections under the law. Our vision is to do exactly what we’re doing now, though maybe with a few more advertisers and community supporting our nonprofit."

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.