People to Watch: Activist/Ambassador/Entertainer: Andrew Levitt
In the past two years, Andrew Levitt's drag queen alter ego Nina West has become Miss Congeniality Columbus.
An unofficial spokeswoman and champion of Columbus' local businesses, social entrepreneurs and, of course, LGBT community, Nina West's genuine love and respect for her city - not to mention her hilariously innovative drag productions - have earned her an unprecedented number of fans in both the LGBT and straight communities.
Levitt doesn't take popularity lightly. It pushes him to continue growing creatively and politically.
Levitt has long positioned Nina West as an advocate for social awareness; he/Nina is a co-founder of Project Zero Columbus, a nonprofit that raises money to provide standard care for people with HIV/AIDS.
But his ability to unite went on full display this spring. When three gay men were attacked in Columbus over the course of one weekend, Levitt's Nina became a voice of nonviolent solidarity. Through a grassroots Facebook movement he encouraged members and allies of the LGBT community to defend these and all hate crimes victims not by adding to the cruelty but by wearing pink, as one of the victims had been when he was attacked.
Wear Pink Fridays exploded in Columbus and even extended internationally. The movement continues to spread. Levitt has helped hundreds transcend their anger over injustice and single-handedly brought the conversation this spring to a proactive and peaceful place.
There is something very special about Levitt, and we think we'll increasingly see that it has more to do with his heart than the fact that he's a triple-threat performer in heels.
Occupation: Social media and marketing for Union Cafe
Hometown: North Canton
Neighborhood: Harrison West
Affiliations: Project Zero Ohio, Wear Pink Fridays, Gateway Film Center Advisory Board
Heroes: Mom, Dad, Jim Henson, Mother Teresa