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

 

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Being here makes me proud

masks

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.

Best,
Bill Harrison

Signs of hope surround us

Hope

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.

Best,

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.

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

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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