William and Mary partners with Diversity Richmondon three-year LGBTQ history project

Diversity Richmond kicked-off its LGBTQ History Project partnership with Professor Leisa Meyer and students of William & Mary on Saturday, October 1st. The students, under the leadership of Professor Meyer will spend the next three years researching and documenting Richmond's LGBTQ history.

The history project will include the oral history of members of the LGBTQ and our allies. If you are interested in sharing your voice and your story, please contact Rodney Lofton, Program Coordinator at (804) 622-4646 or by email here. What a truly exciting time and opportunity for the LGBTQ community in Richmond.

Community Champion, Rev. Lacette Cross

Lacette CrossRev. Lacette Cross, affectionately called Rev. L or Pastor Lacette, is the pastor of New Beginnings Christian Church, an open and affirming, multicultural congregation that worships at Diversity Richmond in the Event Hall on Sundays at 3:00pm. She relocated to the Richmond area in 2010. Since moving here, she has become actively involved in various ways. Rev. L is a member of RASN (the Richmond Area Sexuality Network), a former volunteer and board member of ROSMY as well as an active supporter of the community by participating in events, presenting at conferences and offering support wherever she can. She is the founder of Will You Be Whole Ministries that brings together sexuality and faith/spirituality for wholeness with Black women (and those who love them).

Rev. L was interviewed on WRIR for a Diversity Richmond highlight in February on the intersection of race, faith/spirituality and sexuality within RVA. She also offered words of hope and healing at the Orlando vigil hosted by Diversity, and with her church organized a Vigil Against Violence as a way to address ways to end violence in all of its forms. The vigil brought together both the LGBTQ community and the greater Richmond community as a witness to how we are more alike and connected than we are separate and different. Her work as a pastor, teacher, writer, theologian, ethicist and community leader is grounded in a love for people and a belief that we can be our authentic self as we strive to love God, self and others to bring about a Beloved community grounded in justice, equality and love.

Rev. L has a Bachelor of Social Work from Catholic University, a Master of Divinity from the School of Theology at Virginia Union University and a Master of Theology from Union Presbyterian Seminary. She enjoys exploring the RVA food scene, spending time with close friends and reading a good book.

Richmond Triangle Player's "Perfect Arrangement" Is A Community Service

I am certainly not a theatre critic and rarely do I see a production that, when I wake up the next morning, the play is on my mind. But this morning I was thinking about "Perfect Union" when I awoke. And it is not because of the funny one-liners, and there were many. It was the substance, the stark reality of the play's message that stuck like a knife in my stomach.

The story hinges on two gay men and two lesbians living in the 1950's who have "marriages of convenience." Added to the mixture is that the two men are lovers, as are the two women. They live, as heterosexual couples, in adjoining apartments that are connected through a hidden door located in a closet. President Eisenhower has signed an executive order charging federal agencies to fire employees who were "security risks." The order specifically banned homosexuals from working for the government.

Add to the complexity that one of our gay guys is in charge of investigating and firing suspected homosexuals at the state department. That's when the humor ends and reality begins.

So much of our history has seldom been told, if ever. "Perfect Union" gives us glimpses of the horrific struggles of many homosexuals who were brave beyond imagination and stood up to overwhelming odds, losing employment, and family, being branded forever and regarded as outcasts. It shares how, through this painful process, some people gained a new self-respect, pulling strength from God-knows where. It also shares how some homosexuals were their own worst enemies as they struggled with inner-hate. Some things never change.

 "Perfect Arrangement" is more than a play. It is a community service. Go see it. Learn about our forefathers and foremothers and hopefully it will keep you awake as well.

You raised more than $2,000 for Diversity Richmond at PRIDE!!

We had a great time meeting, greeting, and mingling at Pridefest with an estimated 30,000 people! Our hat is off to all the hard working volunteers who make this event happen. And a big THANK YOU to AARP for making our BIG Diversity Thrift satellite store possible. Your purchases benefit the programs of Diversity Richmond.

Community leader Keri Abrams joins Diversity Richmond board of directors

KAbrams"A few years ago I came out to myself and the world as a transgender female and started my transition to the woman I am today," shared Keri Abrams during a recent conversation. And "that woman" has since had a significant impact on the health of the local LGBT community. Keri is one of our most recent board additions and her voice has already made a significant difference in our work.

For several years, Keri has played a major role within the local community through her leadership with the local support group, the James River Transgender Society. She is often a speaker when LGBT organizations conduct educational programs and has befriended many women who are traveling the transition journey.

Over the past three years, Keri has been instrumental in helping our community develop stronger relationships with local law enforcement and with the appointments LGBT police liaisons. She helped plan several of the recent Transgender Day of Remembrance services and is presently helping Diversity Richmond orchestrate a job fair for the LGBT community. In 2015 she was a recipient of the prestigious OutStanding Virginian award, given annually by Equality Virginia. She also serves on the Equality Virginia Transgender Speakers Bureau and is a former ROSMY youth facilitator.

"I hope to continue and further the work that has already started to be more inclusive to my and other minority communities," she said.

Meet community organizer Micky Alexander Jordan

JordanA first-hand account of what inspires Micky ...

I am Micky Alexander Jordan, a Black queer and genderqueer activist. I work as a member leader and current fellow with Southerners on New Ground. In 2015, I also worked with a few organizations in Richmond to raise awareness of #BlackLivesMatter and the unjust deaths of black folks at the hands of the state. Since then I found a passion for organizing and helping make sure marginalized voices are not only heard but included at the table from the very beginning. I love graphic design and dreaming about building a safer, beautiful, more affirming world for trans and queer people of color to not just survive in but thrive in.

I have spoken on many different panels at the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, and for different organizations about his experiences as a Black queer and trans organizer. I have also created several workshops, individually and with SONG Richmond, to explore ideas around community care, revolutionary love, what it means to pass as a trans person, non-binary identities, and more. I have also recently done organizing work with Raise Up for $15, and am currently working with the LGBTQ+ Safety Advisory Group at Virginia Commonwealth University to create a series of trans-affirming police trainings.

Micky is the first in a new series of local activists and community organizers featured in our newsletter. If you know of someone who inspires you, contact Rodney Lofton at

New Richmond Police LGBTQ Liaison Connecting With our Community

Diversity Richmond board chair, Art Toth and Executive Director, Bill Harrison, were recent guests of Richmond City Chief Rodney Durham and our new LGBTQ liaison, Captain Daniel Minton. The meeting was to allow all to become better acquainted and to strategize efforts to make our community and the Richmond police department stronger. Chief Durham very much wants to hear from our community and learn of concerns we may have.

Pictured: LGBTQ Richmond City Police Liaison, Captain Daniel Minton, Diversity Richmond board chair, Art Toth, Richmond City Police Chief, Alfred Durham and Diversity Richmond Director, Bill Harrison.

Another way we make help possible

DT stuffed toysDiversity Richmond is always looking for more ways to help the community. Health regulations will not allow us to sell donated stuffed toys, but we have on-going relationships with organizations that work with kids and can use the toys.

Pictured are Diversity Thrift manager Kris Woodson, left, and Steve Hennessee of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ginter Park. Steve coordinates the distribution of toys to kids in need.

Candidate forums scheduled at Diversity Richmond

meet the candidatesThis is an election year of great importance. While we don't have Hillary or Donald joining us, through the leadership of local activist, Roland Winston, we do have the majority of candidates running for local offices coming to our candidate forums.

While marriage equality is now the norm, that does not mean that our work is done. Far from it. We must hold all elected officials accountable for their votes that affect our community. And we must work to elect people who stand with us.

A major issue that all candidates need to address is the treatment of transgender students. Attorney General Mark Herring has told localities that they have the authority to protect transgender students, but Richmond has not revised their policies. Plus, we are a community with concerns that are not specifically LGBT. As they say, "All politics is local."

Richmond City Council
September 20, Richmond City Council candidates will discuss the issues;

Congress
September 27, candidates for Congress will talk politics;

Richmond Mayor
October 4, all eight mayoral aspirants will be here

Richmond City School Board
October 11, Richmond City School Board hopefuls will discuss local education challenges.

The forums will run each night from 6:00 P.M.

Thank you to the following organizations for making the forums possible: A Philip Randolph Institute, Advocates for Equality in Schools, Alliance for A Progressive Virginia, Brown Virginia, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Latinos and Amigos, Mothers and Others of Va., Senior Center of Greater Richmond, Sierra Club-Fall of the James, Virginia Organizing and Women-Matter.org.

The meetings are free and open to the public. More information will follow soon.

Governor Salutes LGBT Pride Month In Virginia

Gov McAuliffeGovernor Terry McAuliffe welcomed us into the Executive Mansion again this year in recognition of Pride Month.

Among those attending were (left to right) Diversity Board Chair, Art Toth; Diversity Board Member,  Ayana Obika-Clayborne and Richmond Business Alliance Chair, Bary Hausrath.

Darryl "DJ" Roman Burt II laid to rest in Amelia

Darryl "DJ" Roman Burt IIA funeral is a difficult but important community ritual. We come together to honor, to mourn, to celebrate a life and a presence of which we have now been deprived.

Darryl "DJ" Roman Burt II died in the Orlando massacre in the Pulse nightclub, celebrating achievement of a master's degree just two days before. His family hosted a celebration of life for DJ before laying him down in his final resting place on Saturday June 25, 2016.

It was an honor to attend his funeral, along with Diversity Richmond Program Committee member Janet Avery. The event to honor Darryl Burt was well attended, filling the available space in the Amelia County High School auditorium.

It was solemn, heartbreaking, tear-filled but also joyful in the remembrance of a young and meaningful life. Gathered to celebrate his life and early passing were family, black churches, his Claflin University Concert Choir, friends and even strangers.

In the wake of such tragedy experienced in the Orlando massacre, it is important to publicly and communally mourn the loss of our dear departed. I wish that the necessity had never come about, but I am so grateful that Janet and I could be there to honor the life and mourn the death of this talented, vibrant and beloved young man. Rest in peace, DJ.

Ray Green is a Diversity Richmond Board Member and Program Committee Chair.

Photo: Darryl "DJ" Roman Burt II. Photo courtesy his family.

Making us proud

Zachary CoralloThere have been few issues that garnered as much national attention in regards to LGBT rights as us serving in the military. And as with all of our civil rights debates, after serving openly in the military was legalized, the horror stories and scenarios that some predicted, have not come true.

We recently received a call from the Navy Recruiting District Richmond Headquarters in search of a speaker to address LGBT issues from the viewpoint of military personnel. We recruited QM1 (SW) Zachary Corallo to address the audience. Below are a few of his thoughts.

"The reason I stepped up and started speaking for the LGBT community in the military is to create awareness and educate people about the reasons behind why we celebrate LGBT Pride month. I believe it's a celebration to recognize the sacrifices and adversity the LGBT community has endured over recent decades. I also think that part of educating is to give people a glimpse and share firsthand what it was like, specifically for service members, to live under the umbrella of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and how much of a difference it makes now that the policy has been repealed."

"These experiences with speaking have been a little nerve racking because I've never spoken publicly to Military and DoD personnel about my personal life and how living under the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy has affected me; however, each time I've done it, I am completely surprised at the level of support I get and am heart-warmed with how far we have come in recent years in these issues. I am truly blessed to be part of such an incredible organization like the Department of Defense and the Navy."

Very Respectfully,
QM1(SW) Zachary Corallo
Petty Officer First Class (USN)

Petty Officer First Class Corallo is a wonderful example of who we are. We take this opportunity to thank him, and all our community members who have and who are presently serving in the military.

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