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

Diversity moments happen often

unity flags

I have often shared that this is one hectic place to work. Staff member juggle enough effort for at least two people. Nonprofit job descriptions are not worth the paper they are written on. You do whatever needs doing. Maintaining an older, big building brings an issue of some sort most every day. Our delivery truck needs repairs, the plumbing is leaking, we just realized that we double-booked two groups using the same conference room. Ugh! It is easy to wonder, at the end of the day, if we have done anything that actually befitted our LGBTQ community.

Then it will happen. A “Diversity moment.” A moment that reminds us what a privilege it is to work here. My most recent was a couple of Sundays ago.

A friend to many of us, Pete Terrell, died July 24th. His brother, Guy, who is also a community member, asked if the memorial service could be held here. We were honored.

As I sat on the back row I looked over the sizable crowd, realizing that the vast majority of people present had never been here before. Folks from Pete’s professional and personal life of 77 years were here. Once again I realized how far reaching the arms of Diversity Richmond can be. People, many of them total strangers to each other, brought together by a common bond, a man who had touched them profoundly, a man who happened to be gay, at a place called Diversity Richmond.

We were there again for someone who needed us. And what a privilege that is. For this, our community should be proud. We have our differences and opposing opinions, but hopefully those things that unite us, the struggles and journeys and commonalities that bind us will sustain us throughout.

I believe they will.

Bill Harrison
President and Executive Director

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.

Diversity Richmond gives, gives, gives

The Executive LGBTQ Leadership Committee

And we love doing it

As I sit at my computer typing this letter I am listening to Richmond Triangle Players practice an upcoming musical. Their rehearsal room is right outside my office. A few doors down our Iridian Art Gallery committee is planning their next award-winning exhibition and in the classroom is the board meeting of Monument City Music. Add to that the production of “Butterflies,” in our event hall. The play is a part of Black Pride RVA that is also taking place at Diversity this weekend.

Pictured above: The Executive LGBTQ Leadership Committee
often meets at Diversity

This is just a sampling of what Diversity Richmond does every day. We provide free clothing to clients of organizations such as Health Brigade and Side By Side and for the last years have invested $5,000 annually helping homeless or near-homeless LGBTQ people. We donate books to Richmond City Public Schools libraries; house two transgender and three LGBTQ twelve step programs.

All while doing that, we run one of the city’s top thrift stores, donating profits back to the LGBTQ community.

Plus we spend lots of time on the phone and in person with folks who call upon us for support, just needing someone to talk with.

So when people ask, “Exactly what does Diversity Richmond do?” It’s not easy to explain, but we one thing we know…we do a lot.

Thank you for your continued support that makes all this possible.

Bill Harrison
President and Executive Director

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

Diversity Richmond continues to meet community challenges

Diversity Richmond continues to meet community challenges

Over the last few months our board of directors (and staff) has been reexamining our mission and the challenges that we face as Central Virginia’s LGBTQ community center.

Any nonprofit worth its salt must continually look at how community expectations change and new needs that the community may have.

We stay busy. Last year over 8,000 people used our building for free. This included committee and board meetings, play rehearsals, fundraisers, support groups and community of faith services. We donate storage space to eight LGBT groups, saving them thousands of dollars each year.

We donate clothing and shoes to those in need. Last year we spent $5,000 helping local LGBT people who were homeless or almost homeless. Thus far this year we have spent about $3,000 doing the same. Since 1999 we have contributed almost $1Million in support of LGBT and LGBT-friendly nonprofits.
A lesson that we have learned is that we need to do a better job of telling our stories. Nonprofits sharing what they do is an on-going job. We cannot depend on the annual report to get the word out.

Above: Diversity Richmond, in partnership with other community organizations,
hosted a vigil for victims of the Orlando shooting in 2016

So as we strategize, please let us hear from you. We are most proud of our accomplishments and we stand on those successes to help us see the future. I look forward to hearing from you.

Bill Harrison
President and Executive Director

Dr. King and Roseanne Barr

ABC restored my faith by firing Roseanne Barr. Her twitter escapade about Valarie Jarrett, former advisor to President Obama, “Muslim brotherhood and Planet of the Apes had a baby=vj,” was more than offensive. ABC called the comments repugnant and abhorrent.

Longtime Roseanne co-star and lesbian, Sara Gilbert referred to the episode as “incredibly sad.” Roseanne consulting producer, lesbian comedienne and activist, Wanda Sykes, resigned when she heard the news.

While the voices of the famous carry significant weight, so does everyone else’s. The public outcry was loud and did not fall on a network that was not paying attention. As Dr. King said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty of the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.”

If the last year has not awakened our moral compasses, there is something wrong with us. We must speak often and louder than ever before. Hate and prejudice has national support as we have never seen in our lifetimes.

Grab every opportunity to speak out. Turn insults into victories. All we have to do is tell the truth and tell it loudly.

Contact ABC and acknowledge that they did the right thing.

Bill Harrison
President and Executive Director

M O T H E R S

Family means different things to people. Some grow up in nurturing, loving environments. Others don’t.

Several years ago a woman told me that mothers of gay men were lucky. She viewed the gay men in her life as good sons to their mothers; never forgetting birthdays, anniversaries, much less Mother’s Day. Always thoughtful and considerate, she saw us. I had to laugh as I knew that gay men crossed the gambit, a real mix we are.

Mothers of LGBTQ people also run the gambit. While we are surrounded by moms who adore their LGBTQ children, we are all too frequently reminded of those who do not.

Lesbian mothers have faced more than their share of injustice, discrimination and bias, often from their own children. Angry former husbands have tossed gas on the fires. Emotions run high. Life-long pain is often the result.

And then there are the others of our community. Women who marry women and who have children. Women who remain single, but are mothers to kids.

For generations women have played major roles in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights and often those sacrifices and victories have gone unacknowledged. Giving the world our children is but only one thing they do for us, albeit a life force that can be brought about by no other.

If your own mother, for whatever reason, cannot or will not hear your voice, find one who will. Celebrate life.

Bill Harrison
President and Executive Director

Richmond LGBT community always rises to the occasion

Give Out Day

Our community never ceases to amaze me. Always present. Always there.

No better example than the recent “Give Out Day.” If you were one of those folks who, by day’s end, felt a bit overwhelmed you received one more email or Facebook post from a local LGBT organization asking you to donate, we know how you felt.

Whether it be supporting youth, providing free healthcare, battling LGBT violence, or entertaining us on stage, you answered the call with your financial support. On behalf of all our wonderful organizations, we say thank you!

Every day at Diversity Richmond, we help members of our community. Through our support groups, free meeting rooms, storage spaces for LGBT nonprofits, helping to fight homelessness in our community or the promotion of LGBT artists, we are ever-present. And we cannot do what we do without you.

The challenges keep coming. Help is needed. And we need you. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Bill Harrison
President and Executive Director

"I was so glad I found Diversity"

Side By Side

I recently spoke at a monthly church program about the work of Diversity Richmond. It was a very supportive group and we had a great 90 minute conversation that later turned toward religion and politics, two issues strongly facing the LGBT movement.

After the program, a gentleman shared that several years ago he moved to Richmond from New York to attend seminary. While riding down I-95, he spotted a building with a huge rainbow painted on the walls. He investigated and fell in love with the thrift store and our mission.

While in seminary he also had a private counseling service. One of his clients was a young woman struggling with her sexual orientation. He visited Diversity Richmond and located Side By Side (at that time the organization was ROSMY) and referred his client there. Since that time he has led several young people to Side By Side.

Connecting people with resources is something we do often. And how good it is to have such a strong community filled with good people and solid organizations that address our needs.

We can only do the good work we do every day with community support. Can you help us? To make a donation on line go to www.DiversityRichmond.org or mail donations to 1407 Sherwood Avenue, Richmond, 23220.

Best,
Bill Harrison