Two Good Guys

Raul and Fernando

Raul Cantu and Fernando Rodriguez Connecting Diversity with Hispanic Community

Both are creative, imaginative, energetic and dedicated as individuals, so combine the two and know that the project will be a winner, to say the least.

Last year, volunteer Fernando’s idea of a Hispanic music festival, “Viva RVA!” drew hundreds of people as we celebrated culture, food and music. The weather was perfect and the day could have not been better. Plans were set for September 2020. Then the pandemic hit.

A few weeks ago, Fernando made us aware of the enormous need for food in the local Hispanic communities. While all businesses have been impacted by the pandemic, the hospitality industry has been hard hit. Many Hispanic people work as housekeeping, food service and landscaping.
So, Fernando and our Events Coordinator, Raul Cantu, announced big plans of a food drive that would help 500 families by supplying a week’s supply of groceries. Once the plan was announced, the community responded. Diaz Foods sold us considerable inventory at cost along with a donation of goods. Feed More contributed 8,000 pounds of locally grown fresh vegetables. Several other companies made significant financial contributions as did community members.

On July 28th, volunteers and staff placed hundreds of bags of nourishment in the cars of people who needed food. “It was a very humbling experience” shared Board Chair, Cheezie Farmer. “Cars were lined down the street an hour before we began. I am very proud of Diversity Richmond. We helped lots of people.”

Another food drive is being scheduled for September.

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Diversity Richmond staff, board members, and volunteers unload and sort groceries to bag.

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Our bags of groceries and socially distanced outdoor distribution line.

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Pictured Above: Fernando Rodriguez, Haily Rose, Mimi Bishop, and Christine Wener

Stonewall Rising: LGBTQ March for Black Lives Matter Huge Success

Stonewall Rising: LGBTQ March for Black Lives Matter

Last Saturday hundreds of people gathered at Diversity Richmond in support of LGBTQ Black Lives Matter. If you were here, you know what a powerful experience it was. The inspiring remarks by LGBTQ Black leaders, the beautiful music and the true sense of community that was ever present. The event was supported by fourteen local organizations. This is but one example of good work to come.

Supporting such events such is one reason Diversity Richmond exists. For over 20 years our organization as jumped every opportunity to help. Our mission has expanded over the years, but the heart of Diversity has not changed, albeit stronger and more expansive.

Community support and Diversity Thrift proceeds are how we continue our good work. With the on-going pandemic, having been closed for weeks, the store just recently reopened with reduced store hours.

We are well aware of the financial strains that the pandemic has placed on many people. If you can make a donation during Give Out Day, it will be most appreciated. If this is not a good time to donate, we understand.

Stay safe.

Bill Harrison

Our country is experiencing an unprecedented time of division and unity.

Shawn Smith

We are physically divided and isolated by disease, yet unified and steadfast in helping to heal the sick. We are divided by racism and privilege, yet together we march for justice and peace. We are divided by inequality and politics, yet we stand united in believing that this is, and will remain, the greatest country in the world.

It is with this backdrop that I’m enraged and at the same time, inspired. As I consider the mountain before us as a country, I’m reminded of the valleys behind us. We’ve come this far as a nation because of our diversity and unity. And it is because of that same diversity and unity we have the will, resources and power to evolve as a people and emerge from his dark time as a better society.

Diversity Richmond will stand with all of you as we continue on our path to crest this tumultuous wave of recent events. Together we will march, we will cry and we will be victorious in this fight for a better country and a better world.

Thank you for being a part of the Diversity Richmond family and thank you for letting us be a part of yours.

Shawn Smith
Diversity Richmond Board Member

The virus has brought out the best in us

Goodness is the only investment that never fails.

There are many similarities between the Coronavirus and HIV. Both caught us by surprise and quickly turned our worlds upside down. Both found an unprepared nation and also both were surrounded by ignorance which created fear. And both played a role in dividing an already segmented America.

It has also brought out the best in us.

From folks we had never met before coming to Diversity Thrift for fabric to make masks and surgical gowns to healthcare professionals conducting testing in our event hall to community members coordinating a drag show in our parking lot to remind our local entertainers that we have not forgotten them, goodness abounds.

Yes, these are trying times, but we have been knocked down before and we got back up and more than survived, we excelled. And we will again.

Bill Harrison

A BIG Thank You from Diversity Richmond!

Thank You

Dear Friends:

Sometimes words fail and this is one of those times. Your response to Giving Tuesday was a bit overwhelming. Our goal of $2,000 was far exceeded. You donated a total of $5,440.00. Thank you.

It has been said that disasters bring out the best and the worst in people. You validated that theory by showing just how kind and generous people can be by supporting a fundraising effort during these difficult times.

Your support is a reminder of your confidence in us and we take that charge very seriously. It was humbling to read comments that accompanied some of your donations.

We will continue to work, thanks to you.

Bill Harrison


Make a Donation

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday Now

Dear Friends:

I hope this finds you doing well as we navigate thru this madness.

We have been closed for several weeks. No financial help has been given to any of our partner agencies; no free clothing to those in need; no twelve-step or committee meetings have been held in our conference rooms and no fundraisers in our event hall.

We are asking for your help. If you are fortunate that the virus has not negatively impacted you financially, would you consider a gift to help us through these times?

We are very aware that the pandemic has hard hit many people in our community and we also know that several LGBTQ organizations are asking for your support today. If now is not a good time to contribute, we understand. If you can help, we thank you.

Stay safe,
Bill Harrison


Donate Now       Facebook Donations

Being here makes me proud


The last few weeks have been challenging for everyone. The virus has disrupted every aspect of life. From the moment it began, Diversity Richmond searched for ways we could help. Then one of our supporters suggested we supply people making masks with free fabric that had been donated to Diversity Thrift. That idea has brought numerous people through our doors. Several had never visited us before. And this is just one way we are helping,

What do you look forward to the most when this nightmare is over? I look forward to having a huge event at Diversity Richmond. We will have music, food and dancing. It will be free and we will celebrate our friendships and our wonderful community. We will hug strangers.

Please do not take risks with the virus. Take care of you and those you love.

Bill Harrison

Signs of hope surround us


Trying to find something to smile about has been a challenge recently. Loss of jobs, income and security, not to mention the staggering numbers of people becoming infected and of people dying paints a grim picture. But, if we look, the signs of hope are there.

The dogwood tree outside the Diversity Richmond offices is in full bloom, greeting those who venture out for walks. We are constantly reading about every day, ordinary people conducting fundraisers for our friends in the hospitality business … our favorite waitstaff, bartenders or our barbers and stylists. Local nonprofits are finding creative ways to continue to help those who rely on them for food.

The news broadcasts show folks leading car parades of teachers riding through neighborhoods, reminding students that they are missed. One of my favorite segments was a gentleman walking through his neighborhood playing the accordion. This brought kids outside away from their phone games.

I need not remind anyone of the other virus that turned our worlds upside down a few years ago. That also came out of nowhere and ravaged our community. We faced those times with compassion, determination and fortitude, vowing to never give up. And we won. We will do the same this time.

Take care of yourselves, don’t be foolish. Let’s take care of ourselves and each other.


Bill Harrison

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.


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