FBI and Diversity Richmond partners in community welfare

A couple of years ago two visitors came to my office, identifying themselves as FBI agents. Needless to say, my reaction was one of fear, but much to my surprise, the callers were there to find out how we could partner in educating the LGBT community about hate crimes.

That was the beginning of a relationship that has grown into an on-going partnership. I met with another FBI agent today who is visiting partner agencies of the local FBI offices to ensure they are supplying the services we need. Yes indeed, how things have changed.

One local police chief, when asked during a community conversation what had brought about the change of attitude, shared that police officers are now college educated people who have LGBT relatives and friends. Unfair treatment and prejudices against LGBT people are no longer acceptable or tolerated.

Much of this progress is because we came out of our closets. Allowing people to get to know us is the most effective way to change attitudes. And it is something that we can all do.

Best,

Bill Harrison
President and Executive Director

Millennials are the new LGBTQ+ “pioneers”

Our world is in good hands

I recently met with an organizer of an LGBT employee group with the Richmond office one of America's larger corporations. Quite impressive he was. Not only is he taking a lead in establishing the group, he is one of the most self-assured, confident and welcoming people I have met in a long time. I share this because he is only 24 years old! Through our emails I had assumed he was much older.

What an inspiration the younger generation is. Another good example is the Richmond Business Alliance, the local LGBT-friendly chamber of commerce. The organization was established a few years ago by twenty-something Kevin Clay to help identify local LGBT and LGBT-friendly businesses. The group continually grew, now boasts over 100 members and has its own non-profit status. Most of the leadership is far from retirement. Very far.

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We need to think before we act

We Helped Raise Half A Million Dollars for Restaurant that Endorsed Indiana Legislation

When news hit about Indiana Governor Mike Pence signing the "religious freedom" law which legalized discrimination against LGBT people, outrage was heard from private citizens, businesses and elected officials from around the county. The opposition had given us yet another win albeit that was not their intent.

A few days later when an Indiana pizza restaurant owner announced that she would refuse to cater same-sex weddings, more indignation along with lots of laughter was the result. Her dispatch also brought people posting ridiculing comments, fabricated restaurant reviews, obscene remarks and photos on social media engines. As an end result, the opposition rallied and within 24 hours, over $500,000 was raised for the restaurant owners.

Responses to attacks on our community need to be thought out. Take for example, a few months ago when the billboard was posted in Richmond declaring that "No one is born gay."

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Our marriages will greatly help American divorce stats

Like all of us, I have loved attending same-sex weddings these last few months. My first was watching Attorney General Mark Herring help Carol Schall and Mary Townley tie the knot in front of the John Marshall Courts Building. The blissed couple, like most of our gang who have marched to the altar, have already been together a long time.

Two men who I watched jump over the broom had been together for 25 years. When one groom was asked if he would love cherish and take care of his better half, he loudly replied, "Have been and will continue!" The congregation erupted into laugher.

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Marriage is not the only change we are realizing

I recently attended a community partners breakfast sponsored by the Chesterfield County Police Department. As you know, we have made great strides in strengthening our relationships with local police. The invitation to participate in the breakfast is one result of those efforts.

Present was a diverse group of folks: Hispanic, Indian, Muslim, Christian organizations along with groups such as the NAACP and us. This was the first of many opportunities that Chesterfield will host to build bridges between the department and the communities they serve.

Several participants expressed a desire to have more conversations as sometimes members of their communities do not trust the men and women who wear badges for fear of not being treated fairly. Just recently, for example, the Richmond Free Press published an article addressing what to do if you are stopped by the police. Fear can abound based on prior experiences.

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Being single on Valentine’s Day

Have you ever loathed February 14th? I have. While many look forward to celebrating the annual day for lovers, countless numbers of people hate Valentine's Day. If one is single, especially not by choice, watching others celebrate their love-lives can be painful.

I can remember as a "twenty-something" believing that if I only had a man in my life, that my existence would be just perfect. Oh, the ignorance of youth.

A healthy couple is comprised of two healthy single people. And becoming that healthy single person is not easy. It takes work, lots of self-examination and a willingness to take brutal honest looks inside. The hardest part can be making changes following that authentic examination.

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One by one…

Your support, be it financial, donating to Diversity Thrift, or through volunteer hours makes a huge difference as we address the needs of our community. Hardly a day passes that someone does not call or stop by your Community Center for help.

No better example than this morning. I had just arrived when a young man knocked on my door.

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We are all born to love

Last year ended on a very positive note with the billboard campaign bringing us national media coverage. Once again the opposition gave us a golden opportunity to educate and tell our stories. Thank you to everyone who participated.

We are beginning 2015 with much to do.

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Our Community Is An Active One

Within the last two weeks we have participated in events that mark, in many ways, our core being. The Transgender Day of Remembrance is an experience that has grown in size and in its ability to raise our conscience regarding the injustices faced by transgender people.

The World AIDS Day ceremony was also a very meaningful service that brought back strong memories for many of us and also reminded us that HIV-disease is still very present in our midst.

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While we celebrate let us remember our transgender brothers and sisters

Years ago I would look at folks such as the Quakers and think, "That really is nice of them to support us, but I wonder why they have taken our cause?" Now I know. It was not that they wanted to simply be nice, it was that they knew it was the right thing to do.

We, as the community, now have a similar challenge and responsibility.

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Marriage and children, the dream come true for many

Of the two weddings I recently attended, at the conclusion of each ceremony, the same statement was made by both couples: "Now we can adopt our child." I had been so excited about our court victories, the awareness of adoption had escaped me.

Being married, much less having children is something that many of us never thought we would live to see. For years many of us have fantasized about having a family, but for most of us, it has been merely an imaginary thought. No more. It's a new day.

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