Working to truly be “Diversity Richmond”

Looking in the mirror is not always easy, but it can benefit us. Several years ago, we began intentional efforts to look at how we needed to grow. We did not have to look far.

We are very excited to launch our inaugural celebration of our Latinx LGBT community. And what exciting plans we have. Reading through this newsletter, you will find events that we hope you will support. Music, food, native dress, art and even drag queens…. we have it all.

We are proud of our efforts and see this as just the beginning of an exciting journey. Please join us as we work to unify and build community.

Bill Harrison


Viva RVA! Hispanic Music Festival

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage and Honor Virginia’s Latinx LGBTQ

Diversity Richmond is proud to announce Viva RVA! a multi-event Hispanic Heritage Month celebration honoring Virginia’s Latinx LGBTQ. A Hispanic Community Reception will bring together Viva RVA! community partners, including: Laughing Gull Foundation, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Richmond’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, Virginia Hispanic Foundation, Virginia Pride, Side-By-Side, Latino Link Advisors, VCU Division of Inclusive Excellence and the University of Richmond.

VA PrideFest is expected to attract 30,000 people this year and we will be there to say hola to each one. Throughout the day, the Viva RVA! Booth will offer salsa lessons by Angel Rodríguez a.k.a. The Salsa Guy and host performances by Puerto Rican folkloric dancers. Mark your calendars for September 28 and look for our booth on Brown’s Island near the Youth Pride Village.

We will end the celebrations with a bang! The Hispanic Music Festival will kick off at 11:30 am on Saturday, October 5. This free family-friendly event will offer authentic Latino cuisine, food trucks, exhibits, prizes. We will have free dance lessons by The Salsa Guy and live performances by:
Quatro Na Bossa (Brazilian Jazz)
Kadencia (Puerto Rican Bomba y Plena)
Margarita and the Maracas (Acoustic Duo)

To attend the Viva RVA! Hispanic Music Festival, follow these 3-easy steps:
1. Visit our Viva RVA! Facebook event page and click “going”
2. Get your FREE pass at Eventbrite
3. Put on your dancing shoes and bring your friends and family to our events and music festival.

“I have not eaten in two days”

homeless

A 22-year old Richmond man disowned by his family because he is gay

For the last three years Diversity Richmond has tried to address the issues of local LGBT people facing homelessness. Last week we helped four people including a mother and her child.

We recently received a call from a young man who had been evicted several weeks prior by his parents after he came out to them. He had a part time job, but was behind on his rent and had been locked out of the god-awful hotel room he had rented on Jefferson Davis Highway.

We paid his rent and are connecting him with agencies that can help. On my way to the hotel that night, I received this text:

“Is there any way you can leave money so I can buy groceries? I haven’t eaten in two days. I barely have enough money to pay my ride taking me home from work tonight for gas money. The past few months have been absolute hell for me. Not being able to be my true self was beyond a burden, but now that I have come out everything has gotten a million times worse. I feel so worthless.”

Most of us have never been hungry. Most of us have never been homeless. Most of us have never been disowned by our families. But, most of us have been blessed in many ways.

Can you help us help people such as this young man? He is being punished by his own family because he is like you and me.

Bill Harrison

Donate to Diversity Richmond

You Are Making A Huge Difference

Nonprofits could never fulfill their missions without community support. Donations of time and money make it all possible. Today’s newsletter highlights donor Margaret Freund, Gold Sponsor for “All Americans.” Her vision is literally changing the landscape of Richmond, and all for the better. Margaret is totally committed to Inclusion and diversity. A responsible corporate citizen indeed. An example for others.

Every dollar donated to Diversity Richmond helps us make a difference. This week alone we have helped six local LGBTQ folks facing homelessness. One was a mother and child. Another was a young man whose parents kicked him out because he is gay. Our community’s needs continually change and grow and your continued support helps us maintain our level of commitment.

And please join us for fun and gaiety on Friday, July 26 for our annual “All Americans.” Food, beverages, LGBTQ artists, and $1,000 in cash prizes for karaoke winners. The audience picks the winners so bring your friends to cheer you on.

Best,
Bill Harrison

As LGBTQ Americans, we have responsibilities

4th of July

If one of our community is attacked, we all are attacked

“It is the responsibility of the minority to bring injustices to the attention of the majority.”

I read that quote years ago and it has remained with me since. We cannot wait for others to do the work.

Over the past few years, while significant progress has been made, we have taken a few steps backward, but this should serve as a reminder that rights can be taken away as quickly as they were acknowledged. Just look at how national leadership has attacked the transgender community.

If this does not bother you, I suggest you wake up and gain a conscience. An attack on one person is an attack on all of us.

What can we do? We can easily do a bit of research. Then we send an email to our elected and demand that our injustices be addressed. We also need to thank those leaders who support us. They need to hear that their backing is recognized.

We can vote. Ironically, that privilege that was once denied to women and people of color is so taken for granted. As LGBTQ people, we know discrimination and if one happens to be a person of color along with being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, they know all too well the horrors of prejudice.

After the fireworks have faded, do something that will bring about positive change because I can assure you that our enemies do not sleep.

Our community is a vibrant, strong, resilient, diverse family. We will win, but unified we must be.

Carytown belongs to us and we belong to Carytown

Carytown RVA

It was not too long ago when LGBT community organizers never considered approaching businesses for financial support for fear of severe rejection. Today, if it were not for corporate provisions, many of our organizations could never fulfill their missions.

No better example than Carytown businesses. The Carytown Merchants Association voted to celebrate June, Pride Month, by decorating windows, raising funds, hosting a parade and a mini-Pride festival.

These public means of support are messages that Carytown is not only a safe place for us, but that bigotry and prejudice is not the environment of this popular, thriving business district. Carytown belongs to all of us and we all belong to Carytown.

Carytown has a long history with our community. For many years, several bars and other LGBT-owned businesses have called the Cary Street corridor home.

This newsletter is dedicated to Carytown and the wonderful, generous, thoughtful people who have enthusiastically claimed Pride Month as a way to celebrate equality.

Thank you, Carytown Merchants Association. This is a humbling time for Diversity Richmond.

Bill Harrison

 

Diversity Richmond helps people facing difficult times

1 in 5 transgender individuals has experienced homelessness

I will be brief.

Three years ago, through an ALTRIA grant, we began helping LGBTQ people facing homelessness. Little did we know. By autumn of each year we had depleted our annual allocations.

Twice today we received calls from two of our partner agencies on behalf of their clients. One needed clothing for a lesbian mother’s children. The second call was for an older lesbian who is battling severe mental illness and who needed an extended hotel stay until her housing application was approved.

Diversity Richmond was there to help, made possible by the generous donations of time and money of people such as you. We could never provide the aid we do without your support.

Please help us continue serving our community, especially those who are facing insurmountable odds.

Thank you, thank you.

Bill Harrison

Give Out Day Is Thursday!

Give OUT Day challenge

Wanda Fears makes $1,000 challenge

Thursday, April 18 is Give Out Day. The annual national effort has raised more than $5 Million for 600 LGBTQ organizations. Diversity Richmond is one of those nonprofits.
Longtime Diversity Richmond supporter, Wanda Fears is kicking off our campaign with a $1,000 challenge, meaning that she will match the first $1,000 donated to Diversity Richmond.

Why donate to Diversity Richmond? Last year over 5,000 people used our building for free. Since 1999, we have invested over $1 Million back into the local LGBT community, making countless projects successful, helping thousands of people. Since 2016 we have spent over $15,000 helping LGBT people who were facing homelessness. We donated over 1,000 books last summer to local public schools and hundreds of articles of clothing to clients of LGBT community organizations.

If you are a Facebook friend of ours you will receive donation reminders tomorrow. Or you can donate now using this link.

We value your support and carefully invest every donated dollar back into the community.

Thank you.
Bill Harrison

Pictured L to R: Haley Beck Realtor, Brinlin Maki Realtor, Wanda Fears Team Leader, Chris Golding assist

Black people, White people

Community Conversations

Community Conversation Planned for March 23rd

I recently saw a program on public television that featured an African American woman stating that the murder of a black man needed to matter as much as the murder of a white man. The film was made in 1954. Not much has changed.

Please join us Saturday, March 23rd for the second in our series addressing race. “Diversity Richmond Presents: A Community Conversation On Structural Racism and Racial Bias in the LGBTQ+ Community” will be held in our event hall, 2:00-4:00 PM.

The afternoon will encompass round table discussions. The space will be a safe one where we can talk about what matters to us, our observations, feelings and hopes. It is free and open to the public.

If there is one segment of America that can have needed, productive conversations and bring about change, it is us. Please join us.

Bill Harrison

White people, where are you?

Black LGBTQ winners

For the past two Februarys, Diversity Richmond has coordinated our “Black and Bold” series with several events taking place during the month. This year we shift our recognition of the contributions of local leaders in the African American LGBT community to those throughout the Commonwealth.

Richmond is still a segregated society. Events ranging from the historic “Two Street Festival,” to the newer celebration of our first Black Pride Festival, have tremendous support, but there is always one thing missing: white people.

If white people are truly invested in expanding our minds and developing better understandings of the world, we will grab every opportunity to listen to the vastly different journeys of LGBT people of color. Nothing new here, but what would be new is seeing lots of Caucasian people at events such as Black and Bold.

Merely attending an event does not make us humanitarians, but for my white brothers and sisters, I attest that understanding openness can be the beginning of a life-altering path. Although my eyes have been opened to a lot, I am very much a 65-year old work-in-progress.

Information about our 2019 Black and Blue Awards is listed below. I promise you that you will not leave empty-hearted. So to our white community, we are all indebted to the courageous work of countless people, many being people of color whose contributions and struggles have often been overlooked or ignored. They should be celebrated.

I am personally very proud of Diversity Richmond for taking the lead in these endeavors and recognitions. Your support has and will continue to help us make history.

Bill Harrison

Your Diversity Richmond donations help the entire community

Bill Harrison

Are you aware that since January…

... rooms in Diversity Richmond have been used over 600 times for free? This constitutes about $122,000 in free space rentals given to organizations such as Richmond Triangle Players, Side By Side and the Virginia Anti-Violence Project;

... we provide storage for 7 LGBT organizations saving them thousands of dollars annually;

... Diversity Thrift donated hundreds of books to area public school libraries; We gave hundreds of articles of clothing to those in need through partner agencies;

... Our Iridian Gallery, the south’s only art gallery dedicated to LGBTQ artists, coordinated 7 exhibits and special events;

... four LGBTQ organizations use Diversity as their address, saving hundreds in post office rental spaces;

... Diversity Richmond conducted a community conversation, “Racism In the LGBTQ Community,” and will coordinate “White Privilege” in 2019;

... conducted a monthly radio show on WRIR FM, addressing issues of the LGBTQ community;

These are but a few of the significant contributions that your support makes possible. We need your time, your mind, your vision and your money. Please make a tax deductible donation to continue the progress.

Thank you for everything you do.

Bill Harrison

Can you help us continue our good work of supporting our community? Please mail your donation to 1407 Sherwood Avenue, Richmond, VA 23220 or online here.

Above: Diversity Richmond president Bill Harrison outlined some of the many contributions the organization makes to the community at the recent Diversity Richmond Celebrates event.

It has been proven that every single vote counts

Your Vote Matters

Midterm voting is Tuesday, Nov. 6

Ours is a diverse community. We come in all types of packages with any number of political leanings. We run the gambit. Tuesday is Election Day and several critical decisions will be made.

Because of our nonprofit status, Diversity Richmond does not endorse candidates, but we are allowed to educate our contingencies about elections and candidates. There are people running for office who are working to set back our progress.

Our most recent General Assembly elections (which came out in our favor) taught us that in many elections, every single vote counts. Please research and please vote.

Bill Harrison

Thank you, Guy Kinman

Guy Kinman

Our little corner of the world felt a moment of silence on Monday, September 17, 2018 as Guy Kinman slipped quietly from our midst. A longtime activist who dedicated his life to the battle for equality and justice, Guy Kinman had vision and fortitude that will always benefit us.

While Guy worked tirelessly every day, probably his most well-known project was the billboard campaign that he led several years ago. That was a gigantic step for Richmond, to go so public, to put the word “GAY” in front of hundreds of thousands of travelers, to boldly proclaim that we are here and no longer ashamed.

The accompanying photo was taken of Guy at the Diversity Richmond rebranding celebration a few years ago. The note he penned for us read, “My admiration to all of us! We have gone from being those peculiar people to avoid to those authentic humans - wonderful people worth knowing!!"

Godspeed, good friend.

Bill Harrison
President and Executive Director