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Allies and Advocates in Cleveland - Equality Ohio

 Mr. Giovonni Santiago

Mr. Giovonni Santiago

 Dr. Cecile Unger

Dr. Cecile Unger

On Wednesday evening, December 5th, we went to Windows on the River to attend the 2018 "Allies and Advocates in Cleveland" event put on by Equality Ohio. As we read on the Equality Ohio website, this annual event honors "an outstanding Cleveland LGBTQ ally and the impactful work of a Cleveland LGBTQ advocate."

Accordingly, one of those honored at this time was Dr. Cecile Unger, who "helped create and advance a multi-disciplinary team at the Cleveland Clinic that provides all aspects of transgender-specific services to patients in Northeast Ohio." The other honoree was Mr. Giovonni Santiago, "a transgender U.S. Air Force veteran who teamed up with his doctor to open the first transgender-focused clinic within the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs at the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland.
(see and for bios see and

When we arrived, we had an informative conversation with Ms. Alana Jochum, the Executive Director of Equality Ohio, about pending legislation in Columbus that affects the LGBTQ community. We also said hello to several of our friends who are involved with Equality Ohio, like Ms. Gwen Stembridge, Mr. Marshall Troxell, Ms. Vania Sherepita, Ms. Mary Zaller, Ms. Raisa Mathis, and Ms. Siobhan Boyd-Nelson.

We also talked to Mr. Stephen Burks, the Creative Director of GoodCity Concepts, a socially conscious video production company which has taped and made accessible for public viewing quite a few important stories pertaining to the LGBTQ community.

Before we departed, we congratulated Ms. Michelle Tomallo, Co-Founder and Board President of Plexus-Chamber of Commerce for the LGBTQ Community and Allies, on a grant that her organization had recently obtained that will enable it to expand its services.

Justin Faulhaber