Go see “The Cake”

RTP The Cake

Richmond Triangle Players hit this one out the ballpark, or “the kitchen,” shall we say. The Cake is one of the best productions I have seen on the RTP stage, or any Richmond stage, for that matter.

Directed by the notable, Dawn Westbrook, it is a roller coaster of emotions. It’s deliriously funny, has moments of deep reflection and gives us the chance to see ourselves on stage as RTP does so well so often.

Based on the argument that a baker should not be legally required to bake our wedding cakes due to their religious beliefs, the play causes our baker, Della, to struggle on personal levels when her late best friend’s daughter brings her African-American girlfriend home to North Carolina to marry. Della’s husband, Tim, is no help as he cringes at the thought of gays doing just about anything.

Peppered with the conflicts that LGBT people can have when being confronted by the prejudices of people we love, combined with how those conflicts can cause issues with our spouses, the play has us feeling and reflecting one moment and holding our sides in laughter the next.

If you grew up in the south, you knew a Della, played by Terri Moore who just ended her acclaimed role in Always, Patsy Cline. Full-figured and loving, she is unapologetic in her appreciation for sugar, icing and anything that involves cupcakes or Jesus. Joined by husband, Tim, played by veteran actor, Gordon Bass, the couple sometimes steals the show. When Della complains that Tim “has not kissed her with his tongue” for ages, the two bring one of the most hilarious sex scenes to this LGBT stage I have ever seen. And how ironic that it is heterosexual sex that brought the audience to laughing tears.

While the show may be labeled as a comedy, it also carries the heavy weights that many of us have experienced. Struggles with religion, family and friends who say they love us…but, there is always that but. Conflicts with those who are the most important people in our lives bring severe pain and no amount of sugar or icing can cause that pain to go away…or can it?

From the clever and humorous way Macy, the surprise girlfriend, played by Zakiyyah Jackson, is introduced, to the deep tearful, personal sharing of Della talking about a college female she wanted to touch, the production is filled with much of everything.

Jen, the young woman who proudly brings her girlfriend home for her dream wedding, played by Nicole Morris-Anastasi, does a superb job in sharing her elation as well as her deep pain.

No better example of a RTP production that makes us leave the theater smiling following a discussion on the pain that many of us have known, than The Cake. And that is a gift that Richmond Triangle Players often shares.

And this is why I encourage everyone to see this production. It makes us feel good. It makes us feel joy. It makes us feel emotion. It simply makes us feel. And I do not think a play nor an actor can be more complimented than that.

We are very proud that Diversity Thrift Manager, Darren Schledt, is the Assistant Stage Manager for “The Cake.” The show runs through March 7th. Tickets at www.rtriangle.org

Drag Bingo is back!

Drag Bingo panel

Ms. Black Pride, Aaliyah Michaels Ova, Grace Wetpants, and Natasha Carrington

DRAG BINGO IS BACK!
$2,000 in cash prizes

Back by popular demand, Drag Bingo is Thursday, February 20th and we have $2,000 up for grabs. The night begins at 7PM and will include ten games of $100 jackpots and a $1,000 grand prize. Cash only, ATM on site. Snacks available, not to mention the three entertainers who will be hosting the evening.

For their inaugural appearances, we are delighted that Ms. Black Pride, Aaliyah Michaels Ova and Richmond Diva Natasha Carrington will join the notorious Grace Wetpants for a full evening of entertainment. See you there!

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Black and Bold Awards Ceremony February 28

BBA four panel

Top Photo L to R: Black & Bold Award recipients Luise "Cheezi" Farmer, Justina Hall, Natasha Crosby, Willnette Cunningham. Bottom Photo Sigma Chapter of Alpha Psi Kappa

Black and Bold RVA

Black and Bold Awards Ceremony February 28

Please join Diversity Richmond for our 4th annual Black and Bold Awards on February 28th, as we recognize outstanding Black LGBTQ+ leadership. Thanks to our sponsors Us Giving Richmond Connections and Treehouse Realty for helping to make this event possible. We are pleased to recognize the profound contributions of the following community members:

  • Natasha Crosby
  • Willnette Cunningham
  • Luise "Cheezi" Farmer
  • Justina Hall
  • Sigma Chapter of Alpha Psi Kappa

The evening will begin with a welcome reception with hors-d’oeuvres and music at 7:30pm. This will be followed by an hour long program starting at 8pm which will include a keynote from past Black & Bold honoree Dr. Lauranett Lee as well as the presentation of the awards. The event will conclude with a closing reception and desserts.
Additional event information and event registration (pre-registered guests receive a drink ticket) may be found at the selected link below.

Facebook event
Eventbrite

Alpha Psi Kappa

I wasn’t in therapy until I met my boyfriend

Valentines Day arrow

Have you ever loathed Valentine’s Day? While many look forward to celebrating the annual day for lovers, countless numbers of people hate February 14th. 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.

Being a healthy single person is something many people in relationships have never been. And oftentimes, their relationships pay a toll because of that. As a good friend said recently, “I wasn’t in therapy till I met my boyfriend.” Getting help along the way is a wise move.

So, if you are single, celebrate you. Take pride in “becoming” what many people in relationships are not. As a wise person said once… “Becoming is superior to being.”
GLBT people already face more than our share of self-esteem issues. Being single should not be one of them. That’s not healthy, but being content and at peace certainly is.

Bill Harrison

Diversity Thrift Best of Richmond

Diversity Thrift photo

There are several reasons why Diversity Thrift wins so many awards and one is our staff. Outstanding customer service is the norm here. Diversity employees love their jobs and it shows. We enjoy making our customers happy, be it picking up or delivering furniture, unloading a car filled with donations or boxing up purchases. Diversity Thrift is open seven days a week 9:00 A.M-6:00 P.M.

Follow Diversity Thrift on facebook

Evan Smith joins the Diversity Richmond Team

“Because, despite everything, you haven’t lost your hunger…” -- Diana Khoi Nguyen

Evan SmithEvan comes to Diversity Richmond after four years in Lynchburg where he worked at the Academy Center of the Arts. A Richmond native, Evan is happy to be back home. “I’ve missed family and friends that I haven’t been able to see as much over the years. Seeing my dad multiple times a week is the best thing I could ask for. A part of me feels whole again.”

While in Lynchburg, Evan was part of a talented team responsible for restoring, reopening, and racially integrating an 835-seat historic theater that had not been in operation since 1958. The process was years in the making and continues today to ensure that the entire community feels welcomed and served. “Integrating spaces is more than one moment or law. Building trust with communities takes generations, so it’s essential to understand that there is always work to be done and the process never ends.”

Evan remembers the stories he’s heard and the ones he’s experienced: his father recalls the racism he experienced by having rocks thrown at him on his way to school, and Evan will never forget existing alongside white supremacists in Charlottesville. “The past and present drive me to move forward. I yearn for growth, safety, and change. We deserve that, and I’m thankful to have the ability to do something about it.”

He has been shaped by many of his life experiences which have led him to Diversity Richmond. While working at the National Urban League Washington Bureau, he was present outside of the Supreme Court for the 2015 marriage equality decision. He met Dr. Maya Angelou in college, and he attended an Afrikana Film Festival event featuring Dr. Angela Davis at the VMFA. “I try to use these moments as motivation to keep pushing forward when I’m exhausted. If Dr. Davis can still find time to smile, I guess I can too.”

At Diversity Richmond, Evan hopes to reclaim the words diversity, equality, and equity to mean something more than the co-opted buzzwords they’ve become. “I live with an appreciation for the versions of ourselves that never felt safe to exist, and I hope my work will allow more people to exist authentically. He wants people to feel seen and heard by ensuring that tangible action is prioritized, not platitudes.

“We are very pleased that Evan decided to join our team,” shared Diversity Executive Director, Bill Harrison. “Evan will take our outreach programs to the next level. While we have accomplished much, we have much work to do and he is the ideal person to lead our efforts.”

“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” --Lilla Watson

Black and Bold Awards Ceremony February 28

Black And Bold Committee

Black and Bold RVA

Our annual recognition of outstanding Black LGBTQ leadership, The Black and Bold Awards, will be held Friday, February 28th, 7:00 P.M. at the University of Richmond’s Jepson Alumni Center, 442 Westhampton Way.

This recognition is critical in creating more awareness about the contributions of Black LGBTQ+ individuals and allies throughout Virginia. Lots more information is forthcoming, but if you have questions, please email or call him at 622-4646.

Pictured above: Planning this year’s Black and Bold ceremony is Keith Watts, Evan Smith and Zakia McKensey

Boomer Mag reaches out

Boomer Robyn

BOOMER reached out to recognized and beloved media personalities from around Richmond - TV, radio and print, contemporary and fondly remembered - and asked about their favorite places to make memories, in Richmond and nearby. Here's what Diversity Richmond board member and vice chair Robyn Bentley had to say.

ROBYN BENTLEY

My favorite Richmond place to make memories is Diversity Richmond. I have been a volunteer here since 2014 and currently serve as vice chair of the board of directors. This is Richmond's hub for diversity, for all folks to gather to celebrate and socialize,have community conversations on important issues, attend lectures and classes, play Drag Bingo, create art, to mourn a loss together, or simply to shop for bargains at Diversity Thrift. This one building is responsible for so many positive experiences and is where I have made friends among those who are passionate about issues, art and community. There is no doubt I will continue to make even more memories as well as friends here at Diversity Richmond.

Robyn Bentley was a teenage DJ and one of the first women on the radio in Virginia, during her senior year of high school, 1979. She worked in radio for 20 years before taking a 19-year hiatus to run her Feng Shui Diva consultancy. Bentley returned to the airwaves in 2018 on Boomtown Richmond, where she's program director and afternoon host.

@BoomerMag

Triangle Award for Philanthropy

Wanda FearsLongtime community activist and Diversity Richmond supporter, Wanda Fears is being recognized with the Triangle Award for Philanthropy. For as long as most people can remember, Wanda has played a significant role in the life of Diversity Richmond. Her generosity has meaningfully enabled us to provide help for countless numbers of people and expand programs that are sorely needed in our community.

Thoughtful, straight-forward with a delightful sense of humor, Wanda’s generosity is also felt by numerous other causes in our fair city. Her professionalism and success as a real estate agent, has caused her name to become a recognizable one in the business sector. Wanda never says “no” when we ask. We now say a huge “yes” in recognizing this outstanding woman and leader in our community.

Outstanding Volunteer Service

FernandoWe are very proud to recognize Fernando Rodriguez with the President’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. Just a short while ago Diversity Richmond received a grant from the Laughing Gull Foundation to support intentional outreach to the Latinx community. We called Fernando who quickly said yes to chairing the event. The result was the hugely successful “ViVaRVA! Hispanic Music Festival,” which drew hundreds of people to Diversity Richmond.

The weekend prior, Fernando coordinated an awards ceremony for significant LGBTQ leadership in the Hispanic community. Both events joined countless numbers of people who had never connected with Diversity Richmond before.

Prior to the music festival, Fernando provided beautiful graphics, designs and guidance in the orchestration of our award- winning “Black and Bold Awards,” recognizing outstanding leadership of Black LGBTQ people. “Fernando is a dream volunteer who I wish I could clone,” shared Bill Harrison. “He sets a high standard for himself and strives for excellence which makes all of us look good. We are very pleased to recognize him with this award and in some small way share our deep appreciation for him”

Holiday Shopping and Helping Your Community at the Same Time!

Diversity Thrift Christmas Art

Diversity Thrift is much more than just a secondhand store. It is also a means to significantly help the LGBT community. This is one way we have been able to donate over $1 Million to local causes.

Pictured are just a few samples of the art that is available in our classroom. Quite a variety and would make a great gift. Just ask one of our wonderful store employees for help when visiting. Follow us on facebook @diversity.thrift
(804) 353-8890

Black & Bold Awards

Black and Bold RVA

Diversity Richmond is pleased to announce our annual Black & Bold Awards on February 28, 2020 at the University of Richmond. Please save the date as more information will be made public in the coming weeks.

The Black & Bold Awards is an annual celebration to commemorate everyday people working in the LGBTQ+ community. This recognition is critical to create more awareness about the contributions of Black LGBTQ+ individuals and allies throughout Virginia. We invite you to nominate individuals who have displayed exemplary leadership as advocates for the LGBTQ+ community. Nominations should be emailed to Programming Coordinator, Evan Smith (), by January 10, 2020. We encourage you to use the prompts below as a loose guide for your written nomination narrative.

What did the nominee do to be worthy of consideration and what were the results?

  • Projects/activities the nominee led or worked on
  • Stories that show the tangible impact of the nominees work
  • Specific benefits/tangible outcomes from their work

How did the nominee achieve their goals (leadership, teamwork, creativity, work ethic etc.)?

  • Stories that show the character of the nominee
  • Any challenges or issues encountered and overcome

Subcategories