We showed them how to deal with viruses

Keep Calm and Be Proud

As the world wrestles with the coronavirus, I cannot help but remember when HIV created hysteria. Many people did not want to be around gay men, much less shake our hands, be our dentist or share water fountains. When I see people step away from others for fear of contracting the coronavirus, I totally understand, but it does bring back painful memories.

Like it was in the beginning of the HIV epidemic, today we are surrounded by the unknown. Ignorance can cause fear and that can bring panic. Let’s not panic. The LGBTQ community once again has the opportunity to lead. We have, in some ways, been down this path before.

Diversity Richmond is taking serious steps in protecting ourselves and the people we serve. Our shopping carts at Diversity Thrift are sanitized after each use. All employees are wearing latex gloves and countertops and other surfaces are disinfected often. We are washing our hands no less than once an hour. Our meeting room tables and chairs are being wiped down after use.

Our customers and our friends who use our rooms have expressed their appreciation.

We do not know what the future holds, but we do know that the economy is already suffering. And when the economy suffers, so do nonprofits. If you are so moved, I suggest you make a donation (it can be a small one) to a nonprofit. Our city is peppered with outstanding nonprofits that save lives every day. Let’s remember them.

Best to all and take good care.

Bill Harrison

Why we host the Black and Bold Awards

Four years ago Diversity Richmond launched our first Black and Bold Awards ceremony. In planning the inaugural event we said we would be satisfied if fifty people attended. Over 200 folks supported the event. We knew that we had created something that was needed. The occasion has been orchestrated in different ways, but the heart remains the same.

Here in Richmond and across the land, the contributions and leadership of Black LGBTQ people have often gone unnoticed and unacknowledged. LGBTQ people already face more than our share of prejudices and legal discrimination. Add a darker complexion to the equation and the bigotry grows.

Diversity Richmond leadership knows that the more inclusive we are, the stronger we are. For the past few years we have worked to become better than we have been in the past. Energy has been focused on racial healing and understanding. We know that discussing race can be difficult so we try to create safe spaces for dialogue. We also know that we have just begun to scratch the surface.

We host Black and Bold for several reasons with one being we know that our civil rights movement would never have made our huge advances if not for Black leaders, invisible as some have tried to make them out to be. And while we cannot change the sins of our past, we can help ensure the future is different. We have grown as a community, recognizing that things must be done differently if we truly want equality and equity. For white people, looking in the mirror can be difficult while the errors of our ways and attitudes are being called out.

We celebrate Black leadership as recognizing people of color for their strengths and courageousness is long overdue by the LGBTQ community. Being truly inclusive is long overdue. White people listening is very long overdue. While the main focus of the LGBTQ community has been a struggle for equality, we have not done a very good job of defining equality within our own ranks.

On February 28th we celebrate. Please join us.

Bill Harrison

Great General Assembly Session, Black and Bold Awards and Drag Bingo!

Pride Flag

Watching politics at work can make one feel nauseous; however, observing this year’s General Assembly is almost like living a dream. For years we have asked to simply be treated like everyone else…. not to fear being fired or denied housing or public accommodations due to who we are. Thank you, Equality Virginia, for your steadfast leadership in making our dreams come true. We can take nothing for granted. Visit Equality Virginia to learn the status of our bills.

In this newsletter you will find exciting news about this year’s Black and Bold ceremony, our annual event when we recognize outstanding Black LGBTQ leadership. This year we are celebrating four phenomenal people and for the first time, an organization.
And back by popular demand is Drag Bingo. It’s a game of total luck. No skill required. Anyone can win and we are giving away $2,000!

Our community is a resilient and strong. We prove that everyday.

Bill Harrison

This year’s General Assembly offers great progress but your voice is needed

General Assembly

Much of the opposition that for years has prevented positive LGBTQ legislation is no longer in power and that brings much hope as we lobby for justice. With that said, nothing is absolutely guaranteed. All our voices need to be heard. Can you not take a moment to send an email or leave a voice message for your legislators?

Action can happen quickly at the General Assembly as meetings are happening as I write. To keep up, stay tuned to Equality Virginia.

Best,

Bill Harrison

Pictured above are some of the good folks who spoke at a recent General Assembly committee meeting that addressed treatment of transgender children in Virginia pubic schools. The committee passed a bill that will be voted on by the full Assembly to require the Virginia Board of Education to design guidelines for Virginia schools

Local family makes $20,000 matching pledge

Diversity Richmond flags

Can you help us? Every dollar you donate by December 31st up to $20K is matched!

A local family that loves what we do is making a $20,000 matching pledge. Every dollar donated by December 31st will be matched, up to $20,000.

This is quite the opportunity to grow our programs and enable us to help even more people than we did in 2019. Be it free meeting spaces for twelve step programs (we now have four), transgender support groups, conversion therapy survivors, supplying financial assistance to LGBT people facing homelessness or planting the Rainbow flag in our parking lot for hundreds of thousands of Interstate 95 travelers to see, we are making it possible for you to play an even larger role than before.

If you are already a donor (thank you) and I am going to be bold and ask if you can dig deeper. If you have never donated before, please consider doing so.

Mail your checks to 1407 Sherwood Avenue, 23220 or donate on-line. Or just click on the donation button below to show your support. You can also send your contribution by texting the word DIVERSITYRVA to the number 44-321.

Have a safe and healthy holiday season.

Best,
Bill Harrison

DONATE

Celebrating twenty years of life in Richmond!

Diversity Richmond

Twenty years ago, when Jon Klein founded the Gay Community Center of Richmond, I wonder if he had any idea how his project would impact our community. Now known as Diversity Richmond, the organization is a nationally respected leader in its support of the LGBTQ community.

Please join us as we celebrate on Thursday, November 21st at 6:00 P.M. We will announce our $50,000 in grant allocations, dedicate our beautiful flags in the parking lot, recognize outstanding leadership, enjoy delicious international flavors and celebrate our wonderful community.

We are celebrating you, our community. Diversity Richmond has had a powerful impact and none of that would have been possible without your support. Please join us. Today we celebrate.

20 Years of Diversity Richmond

Diversity Richmond celebrates 20 years

Please join us

Thursday, November 21
6:00 PM sharp

We'll award a historic $50,000 in community grants,
The Triangle Award for Philanthropy, Voluteer of the Year, and
party like it's 1999
in celebration of our 20th birthday

Complimentary International Tastings
Flashback Cosmo Coolers • Cash wine and beer bars

Ezibu Muntu
Richmond Photo Booth
DJ Amy Alderman
Special guest, Founder Jon Klein

VivaRVA! Huge Success!

VivaRVA!

Our inaugural VivaRVA Hispanic Music Festival was a huge success with over 500 people filling the Diversity Richmond event hall parking lot. Food trucks, music, dancing and lots of laughing added to beautiful blue skies, was a true day of celebration of community.

Featured bands including Quatro Na Bossa, a Brazilian Jazz and Bossa Nova group; Kadencia, a Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena group; The Salsa Guy and Margarita and the Maracas kept the crowd entertained and moving.

This was Diversity’s first intentional outreach to the local Hispanic community. The events were coordinated by volunteer Fernando Rodriguez. “It was a proud day for us,” said executive director, Bill Harrison. “So many people who had never been here before, claiming Diversity Richmond as their home. Very humbling indeed.”

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

“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.