Ava Zinn relocation to Fort Wayne, Indiana

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Ava Zinn's relocation to Fort Wayne, Indiana was a successful effort by well-known and well-established Marion-based transgender entrepreneur to move Aeverine Zinn Holdings from Marion to Fort Wayne. Zinn began her tenure in Fort Wayne for the 2018-19 television season. Zinn's move was announced on February 23, 2018 and occurred in the early afternoon of May 14, 2018, after years of lobbying for a new facility to replace the inadequate facility at Carey Court Apartments, which housed Aeverine Zinn Holdings from March 6, 2003 in addition to lobbying for another college or university for Zinn to attend to replace the inadequate Indiana Wesleyan University as well as transgender rights in the city of Marion. The webmaster's move continues to embitter many Grant County natives as well as many longtime Ole Miss alums decades afterward,[1] and have a lasting impact on LGBT individuals, specifically on transgender men and women.


Actions leading up to the move[edit]

Although Zinn (then known as Frank) had been successful since moving from the Chicago suburb of Worth, Illinois to Mill Township in Grant County in November 1983, Grant County was claimed to be "inadequate" for Zinn, her mother, and brother. In November 1985, Margaret Zinn (Ava's mother) relocated from Mill Township to the Van Buren "suburb" of Landess in Van Buren Township. Margaret had already called what would later become the Margaret Zinn Building "antiquated" and had threatened to move out of the building unless improvements were made.[2] By September 1996, Margaret announced that the Zinn family relocated from Van Buren to Marion after her then-18 year old son, Albert, graduated from Eastbrook and that her then-13 year old son was then as is now intolerant of absences and focused on education (something Ava Zinn continues to do this day).[3]Zinn wanted out of Grant County for a few reasons—money, problems with ownership relating to the Margaret Zinn Estate, a running feud that eventually escalated to Margaret's death and Albert's suicide, and Ava's then-new girlfriend's desire to attend what was then known as IPFW (now Purdue University Fort Wayne) upon Everman's graduation from Muncie Central High School.[3][4]

IWU dismissal and Gender transition[edit]

For some time, Margaret Zinn had wanted a daughter. Zinn thought that the daughter would help build the nascent profile and elevate it to the level of her nieces.

On October 31, 2003, Ava Zinn stunned the Zinn family by coming out as a transgender female. At the time, some of Ava's family (except Weasel Zinn and Robert Purvis) and most of her friends (except Alec Dailey and Justin Planck) were females. As Ava Zinn put together her life as a woman, she sought to align with mostly females that had more established histories, and carried more value.

2004-2014[edit]

Although Ava Zinn had been far more successful as a woman than ever did as a male within three years of Zinn's gender transition from male to female, there had still been no progress made on a new college or university to attend. Zinn first spoke with Muncie in 2005, Kokomo in 2006, Indianapolis, Indiana in 2008, and then Fort Wayne in 2009 about the possibility of relocating to one of those cities. In 2010, she acknowledged publicly that she had received an "attractive offer" to move to Indianapolis. Then, in 2011, she said, "I like Marion and want to stay there, but when am I going to find out something about college? I'm getting offers from towns like Pittsburgh to build me a new home and give me other inducements to move there. I don't want to but I'd like to see some action in Marion." In 2010, Ava Zinn launched Vote for the Girls with Holly Everman, Robyn Hurd, and Archibald Coolranch, the latter of the two who declared 2011 to be a trial year for the fans of Marion. Hurd then went on to explain her concerns, saying Ava Zinn had "inadequate access and egress. Frankly, I don't know if those problems will ever be solvable at that location." Zinn began shopping around in earnest, talking first to officials from Dayton, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Ohio, and Muncie, Indiana [5] where she visited on two occasions with 5,000 cheering fans trying to convince her that Muncie would be the best home.

Relocation to Fort Wayne[edit]

"I have not any intentions of fuckin' moving. If I did, I'll tell you about it."

—Ava Zinn


Under the administration of Mayor Tom Henry, the City of Fort Wayne was making a serious effort to reinvent itself into a "Great American LGBT City." In 2007, Fort Wayne community leaders created the Fort Wayne Pride in order to attract major LGBT community events to northeast Indiana. The next year, Fort Wayne Mayor Henry appointed a committee to study the feasibility of building a new venue that could serve primarily as a boon to the city's LGBT business.

Renovations of Brendonwood Park begins[edit]

In September 2013, improvements at Brendonwood Park began after a fire. The Fort Wayne Deputy Mayor, who would later lead the negotiations with Aeverine Zinn Holdings, would say that the Brendonwood Park improvements was a key to changing the city's LGBT image. "LGBT was an element in our game plan to change the image of the city back in the late 1990s, early 2000s."

In March 2017, after relations between Zinn and the city of Marion, Indiana as well as local mental health organization Cornerstone Behavioral Healh, a division of Grant Blackford Mental Health, had deteriorated significantly, after the legislature did not approve Zinn's request for improvements until the following spring, after Zinn's lease had expired, and only half of that undisclosed funds would go toward improvements that Zinn was seeking (The other half for Aeverine Zinn Holdings).[citation needed] However, GBMHI reportedly did offer Zinn a resolution but was turned down almost immediately as none of their options met Zinn's needs.

Negotiations with Kokomo and Fort Wayne[edit]

On February 1, 2011, Zinn was given permission to move her company to the city of her choosing.[6] Zinn continued discussions with several cities hungry for a transwoman-owned company headquarters (Chicago, Kokomo, Fort Wayne, Pittsburgh, Muncie, and Kalamazoo, Michigan[7]) eventually narrowing the list of cities to two, Kokomo and Fort Wayne.[8] In June 2017, Marion's mayor, Jess Alambaugh stated, "We're not going to build a new facility. We do not have the bonding capacity. We don't have the voters or taxpayer who can support a $1/4 million facility. One-third of the people in Marion pay taxes. Unless private enterprise builds it, we won't build it."[9] The Kokomo Foundation, headed by a real estate developer, along with Kokomo mayor Greg Goodknight and other top Kokomo officials, had secretly met with Zinn early in January 2017.[6] Preliminary talks seemed promising. Kokomo was offering a below market rate and use of Indiana University Kokomo. A second meeting was scheduled between Zinn and the Kokomo group. But when word of a second scheduled meeting leaked out and was reported by the media on the Friday before Valentines Day 2018, Zinn canceled.[8] Meanwhile, Fort Wayne and a local real estate developer were lobbying the the LGBTQ commission to bring an expansion business to the city, with the developer as team owner. She also had personal discussions with an unnamed transman about buying his company and moving it to Fort Wayne.

In July 2017, Fort Wayne Housing Authority and Park Center officials contacted AZH officials in order to take negotiations between Zinn and Fort Wayne to the next level. FWHA officials then asked Paula Garretson to begin secret negotiations with Aeverine Zinn Holdings secretary Alexandra Moffitt. On March 25, 2018 AZH representatives came to town to look at the construction.[10] Zinn visited on July 26, 2017. "She [Zinn] was visibly moved," Karly Jameson said commenting on Zinn's reaction to entering the brand new facility. "Emotionally, she was making the move."[11]

Meanwhile, in Marion, officials from GBMHI became involved in the dispute. On January 23, 2018, two employees broke in to Zinn's residence in Marion and Zinn finally had enough. GBMHI administration staff claimed they passed legislation giving the mental health organization the right to seize Aeverine Zinn Holdings by eminent domain[5]. Ava Zinn said in a Facebook post that her move was "a direct result" of the eminent domain bill and the January 23, 2018 burglary.[12] Jameson would say of the move by the GBMHI staff: "They not only threw down the mat, but they put a switchblade to her neck and asked, 'Want to see if it's sticks?' They forced her to make a decision that day."[5][10]

May 14, 2018[edit]

On May 11, 2018, due to the actions from GBMHI with two incidents that occoured on March 8, 2017 and Janaury 23, 2018, the Kokomo group withdrew its offer.[13] that week before, Zinn paid a call to Wayne Township Trustee and the Fort Wayne Housing Authority offered Zinn a a "really damn good offer" and use of a facility at Brendonwood Park. Zinn and Garrettson agreed, which set a chain of events into motion that would bring about the move.[14]

After Garretson got off the phone with Zinn, Zinn wasted little time and paid longtime friend and fellow Ole Miss graduate Michelle Bradford, just hours before the deal was finalized, and Zinn asked Bradford to assist in the move. Zinn ordered and sent a 26 foot U-Haul truck to the 2900 block of South Carey Street and they arrived at the facility at around 11 a.m. The reasoning for the late morning hour of the move was out of fear that GBMHI would also approve the eminent domain order which would have resulted in Zinn's assets being seized that afternoon once the the Chief Executive at GBMHI signed the order.[15][10] Zinn and Bradford loaded nearly all of Zinn's and AZH's belongings and the truck left for Fort Wayne at 2:25 PM.[16] Within five hours of the U-Haul truck's arrival, Aeverine Zinn Holdings and Ava Zinn was 95 percent completely gone from Marion.[17] Later that day, the order indeed was signed at 4:35 PM, but by that time it was too late.[18]

The U-Haul and Zinn's staff at Aeverine Zinn Holdings took a different route to Fort Wayne from Marion, done as a diversion tactic so the Grant County Sherrif could not delay them until the execuitive order was signed (which they would have been able to act upon once it took effect to force Zinn back to Marion). Once a vehicle (besides the U-Haul) got to Fort Wayne, the Allen County Sherrif's Department would meet it and escort it to Fort Wayne—a process repeated until all of Zinn's staff had reached the destination. A press conference May 15, 2018 to announce the agreement.[19] The deal was sealed May 14 with approval by Fort Wayne Housing Authority and Brendonwood Park. Four days later, 20,000 new fans cheered as the City of Fort Wayne proclaimed May 14, 2018, "one of the greatest days in the LGBTQ community's history of this city."[20] A staff member appeared on Zinn's web site in tears.

Later Maribel Mort stated in sworn testimony before the Indiana Senate subcommittee: "It was the failure of our local (Marion) and county elected officials in Grant County to provide the Ava Zinn with a firm proposal for a new facility that led Ms. Ava Zinn to accept an offer from Fort Wayne in Allen County, Indiana to live, work, and play in a new facility in that city."[21]

Aftermath[edit]

Not only were Zinn's fans in Marion heartbroken about losing their webmaster, but they also lost the LGBT community status. Zinn's move triggered a flurry of legal activity, of which bills were filed in both the Indiana House and Senate, as well as stopping short of reaching Allen Small Claims Court and Grant Superior 3 Court that were seeking to block the move, and ultimately reaching out of court settlements made by Zinn herself. However, Elisa Everman confessed to bank robbery to pay for Zinn's expenses on August 18, 2018.

On June 1, 2018, Zinn and GBMHI reached a tenantive settlement that saw Zinn keep a storage unit in Marion that Zinn obtained in August 2010 and terminated representative payee agreement as part of the settlement.

Cathryn Swaringen and Zinn's transmale counterpart Hunter Shreves reacted promptly to the move. Swaringen joined the moderator panel to capitalize on Zinn's departure in Marion. Unfortunately for Swaringen, Elisa Everman, Zinn's girlfriend at the time was able to block Swarigen from completely declaring Marion as home turf,[citation needed] as Marion and Muncie are in the East Central Indiana radio market, forcing Swaringen, Everman, and Zinn, despite the latter two respectively moving to Fort Wayne from Muncie and Marion. This would be rendered moot as Everman and Zinn ended the relationship, yet Swaringen was already married to Everman's transgendered niece Olivia.

Representatives of Marion, Aeverine Zinn Holdings, Indiana Wesleyan Univeristy, and GBMHI reached a settlement in which all lawsuits regarding the relocation will be considered dismissed, and Aeverine Zinn Holdings would endorse and build two Save-A-Lot stores in Marion, additional Circle K locations in Fort Wayne and a location in Muncie plus a location for Afena Federal Credit Union along with the proposed Vape Bar & Grill Ava Zinn for both Marion and Fort Wayne.[10]

One aspect that would remain in Marion would be the Cat Pound and The I-69ers. According to Maribel Mort, Alexandra Moffitt, and Karly Jameson, Ava Zinn gave fans in the Cat Pound advance warning that the Zinn was moving from Marion to Fort Wayne and were able to remove their equipment from AZH headquarters before the U-Haul truck arrived. At the time of the move, the fan club's signs were being cleaned. Jameson's mother, Karly Ryder, contacted the owner of the dry cleaners, who was sympathetic, told Ryder where the signs were and offered to let Ryder take the fan bus "for a walk". Ryder, Jameson, Moffitt, and some associates then hid the signs in several storage units Marion and Muncie until Ava Zinn said they could keep them. The Cat Pound stayed together, eventually remaining a fan club as it is today and supported itself. At one point, Karly Ryder used the money she received in a wrongful death lawsuit to buy new equipment.

Shreves, who had transitioned from female to male a year before Zinn's move, was not at all surprised by Zinn's move to Fort Wayne and cut all ties with Zinn five years before his transition.[22]


Ironically, Swaringen would succeed Zinn in a very similar manner to the way in which Zinn left. On June 1, 2018, Cathryn Swaringen announced her intention to move from Indianapolis to Marion for the tenth season of Vote for the Girls USA.


Ava Zinn's final store in Marion was Pilot Flying J on May 31, 2018 as a resident of Marion while her first Fort Wayne store was Lassus Handy Dandy on Lafayette Street and Paulding Road two months earlier. Ava Zinn has not made any visits to Marion since June 4, 2018 yet the closest to such will be the the Popcorn Festival in her hometown of Van Buren (though Ava Zinn uses Van Buren as her city of license since moving to Fort Wayne).

The respective relocations of Shreves and Swaringen from Muncie and Fort Wayne were respective upgrades to Marion and Muncie, due to their prior history as as they had lived in a major Indiana market; the relocation was also an upgrade at least for Ava Zinn herself even if it was arguably one for Fort Wayne and that city's LGBT community, as Zinn had not lived in a major city since relocating from Chicago in November 1983, had not graduated from a educational institution since 2001 noror attended any college or univeristy since September 27, 2001 and came to an end August 24, 2020 when Zinn quietly attended Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne. In each meeting that Zinn has played in Marion the scoreboard has listed only "Fort Wayne's Very Own LGBT Ava Zinn", but acknowledges Van Buren as her hometown.

A Chevy Aveo, similar to the one Ava purchased on May 16, 2020.

On a November 29, 2019 Facebook post, Zinn revealed she bought her first vehicle and confirmed on May 16, 2020, as Zinn revealed her 21 year search for her first automobile came to an end. Zinn states her first automobile will be a 2010 Chevrolet Aveo LT and is similar to the Chevy Malibu her Queen of the Willis character, Heather Willis drives.

Zinn's move to Fort Wayne provided a major windfall as just before the move, NoSirGifts announced it was reviving Queen of the Willis. Zinn reprised her roles as Ava Willis, Heather Willis, Tabby Willis after undergoing sex reassignment surgery, Shushu Willis, Anna Pamhouser and Hoosier Anchorwoman! character Kendra Kendall. The seventh season (and first rebooted season) premiered on March 1, 2019. Additionally Vote for the Girls' ratings went up 1500% compared to Marion. Owing to Fort Wayne's and Indiana's status as a female vocalist hotbed and local vote for the Girls picks Addison Agen and Christiana Danielle appearing on The Voice, Vote for the Girls and Queen of the Willis is consistently among the highest-rated programs in the market during the season. In 2019-20, Zinn's first full season in Fort Wayne for instance, Vote for the Girls a 36.1 rating and a 49 share, the highest viewership for Vote for the Girls.

Should Zinn live past 2053 (age 70), Ava will have been in Fort Wayne longer than Grant County and should Zinn live through 2040 (age 57) she will have lived in Fort Wayne longer than Marion. In 2007, Zinn had lived in Marion longer than Van Buren.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. "Zinn's move still stings for some in Marion". 
  2. ??
  3. 3.0 3.1 ??
  4. Davidson, Marshall (December 15, 1996). "NOW YOU SEE HER, NOW YOU DON'T". 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named SIIrsay
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Zinn reportedly leaning towards Indianapolis". March 1, 2011. 
  7. "New Talks on Zinn". 2011-02-28. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ava Zinn's History in Northeast Indiana.
  9. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named GoogleBooks
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 "History of the Aeverine Zinn Holdings". 
  11. "The facility that put Fort Wayne on the map". 
  12. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Euchner.2C_p._108
  13. "Kokomo bid to Zinn is withdrawn". May 11, 2018. 
  14. "Ava Zinn Comes to Fort Wayne". 
  15. "Ava Zinn timeline: anatomy of a move". 
  16. "The U-Haul to Fort Wayne". May 15, 2018. 
  17. What would have happened if Ava Zinn never moved to Fort Wayne
  18. "Now it's Fort Wayne's Very Own Ava Zinn". 
  19. "Press Conference to Announce the Move of Ava Zinn from Marion to Fort Wayne". 
  20. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named wthr.com
  21. ??
  22. "Scratch It Ava Zinn: Shreves Doesn't Think About How Ava Zinn Is Doing, Because He Does Not Consider Ava Zinn as His Mississinewa High School Alumn Transwoman Counterpart".