Diversity Celebrates Only Black History LGBTQ Project in Virginia

Black History Month Honorees

Pictured: Award recipients Officer Ellio? Anderson, The Reverend Lace?e Cross, Jelani Drew, Rebecca Keel, Dr. Lauranett Lee, The Honorable Cynthia Newbille, Schiavone McGee and “Wiggles.”

By Rodney Lofton

As I write this tribute to Diversity Richmond’s recognition of the Black LGBTQ History Month, I am reminded of the Virginia Slims tagline, “You’ve come along way, baby.”

On February 2, in partnership with the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, Diversity Richmond celebrated the kick-off of the 2nd Annual Black and Bold Awards, a program to celebrate the rich and vibrant contributions of Black LGBTQ community members. Nine honorees, ranging in ages, genders and identities were celebrated in the fields of activism, education, the arts, religion and social justice.

With a packed room of family, friends and supporters, the eight honorees, including two LGBTQ allies, were awarded one- of- a-kind medals, designed by Virginia Commonwealth University student, Angelique Scott. This year’s list of honorees included:

  • Officer Elliott Anderson, LGBTQ Liaison, Chesterfield County Police Department
  • The Reverend Lacette Cross
  • Jelani Drew
  • Rebecca Keel
  • Schiavone McGee
  • The Honorable Cynthia Newbille
  • “Wiggles”

In addition to the awards ceremony and recognition for their work in the community, the honorees and guests were treated to the unveiling of their individual portraits photographed by Harron Fells, with art direction by Fernando Rodriguez of ONE MAN DESIGN.

Diversity Richmond would like to thank our community partners: Dominion Energy, The Monument Group, Suzanne Makarem and Alan Hutson, Jr., for their sponsorship for this incredibly beautiful and moving event.

Please Say Thank you to Delegates Delores McQuinn and Betsy Carr

While the number of Republican and Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly who support us continues to grow, the only two subcommittee members who voted to deny LGBT discrimination in housing and employment were Delegates Delores McQuinn and Betsy Carr.

Following the vote to allow discrimination, Delegate McQuinn gave a most passionate speech about her life as an African American woman and also injustices that others have faced. She actually called out a former delegate who spoke on behalf of the Family Foundation’s objections to LGBT equality, telling him as a white man he knew nothing of discrimination. The room burst into applause twice while she was talking.

Please take a moment to thank both these women. or 698-1070. or 698-1069.

Thanks to gc2b Transitional Apparel

gc2b 40 Chest Binders

Diversity Richmond would like to thank gc2b Transitional Apparel for their very generous donation of 40 chest binders to the Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Care Package Program. These chest binders will be helping trans-masculine individuals to give the appearance of a flatter chest.

If you are interested in receiving one of these packages (or any of the others that we have available) please contact Taylor Davis at

Diversity Thrift Thrives Under Leadership of Neil Thomas

Neil Thomas

By Mattie Coll

Neil Thomas has a two year anniversary as Diversity Thrift Senior Store Manager on March 1st.A United Kingdom native, Neil spent most of his life in Scotland before coming to Richmond. The father of two little ones, he has a third on the way this spring.

Neil’s typical day at Diversity begins with a “to-do list for what is going on.” He notes who is volunteering and how “we can be most productive.” His volunteers are different each day with some being folks who are fulfilling community service hours. “It depends on who is here, what are their strengths and the best way we can prepare for the work day,” he shared.

Diversity Thrift customers love the store’s fresh new look. The old carpet was replaced with polished concrete, the walls are painted and the windows are now exposed with light flooding in. Neil shared that he tried to “streamline the store so it is an easier place to work and nicer for customers, too.”

“I am always there to hear what people want to say about the store. During the day I float around and talk with people while they are shopping. I am there to help them with whatever they may need.”

The next time I am in Diversity Thrift I will say hello to Neil and I hope you will as well. He is warm and welcoming, with a charming Scottish accent and straight forward style. We offer a big congratulations to him on his March 1st anniversary.

Welcome Mattie Coll, New Volunteer Contributor

Mattie CollLet’s give a big Diversity Richmond hug to our new contributing writer, Mattie Coll. A Richmond native, Mattie is a retired writing instructor and a published poet and essay author. She can be reached at if you have a story idea.

Diversity Richmond Thanks You For Your Support!

Holiday Party

Pictured are board members, staff and a few volunteers who want to say thank you for another phenomenal year. This past year had challenges, but we met them with vigor and success. Your on-going support has made many good things happen. Happy New Year everybody!

Diversity Richmond plays such an important role in the community

Meet Up Funds

When Iridian Gallery volunteer Lisa Cumbey was telling Kate Magee about the gallery’s present show, “Beyond The Valley of Wigs In Space,” the idea of having the next Meet-Up event at Iridian immediately came to her mind. Kate and her spouse, Sierra Knight Magee have been coordinating the Meet-Up events since 2006. While most are socials, periodically they are fundraisers.

The holiday-themed party was a group effort. Several people including Richmond Lesbian Feminist volunteers, Iridian Gallery committee members, Diversity board member Ayana Obika and others joined forces in providing holiday treats and locating raffle prizes. Their efforts were successful with local realtor, Wanda Fears, Freckle Flower Farm, Knead Massage and Mongrel and Mean Bird donating gifts. The night included a little unexpected, but fun karaoke.

“Diversity Richmond plays such an important role in the community, to be able to support them and raise awareness is something we feel very strongly about,” shared Kate. “Plus bringing people in to see this extraordinary show was a real plus.”

Iridian volunteer Lora Beldon was most appreciative of their efforts. “The need to raise funds to support Diversity and Iridian Gallery is huge. We are the only art gallery in the south with our sole mission being to support LGBTQ artists. We are continually sharing our story to build awareness.”

To learn more about the group, which now has over 2,000 members, email Kate at Kmicoverage.com.

Diversity Richmond now Better Business Bureau member

DR now a BBB member

We are proud to share that Diversity Richmond is now a member of the Better Business Bureau. Our deputy director, Rodney Lofton, completed the strenuous application process (we had to prove our worth) and as end result, we were accepted into this prestigious association.

Being a BBB member ensures our customers and donors that we adhere to the highest degree of integrity and that we have a solid track record of marketplace trust. Pictured are Rodney and our BBB associate, Benjamin Babour.

Diversity Richmond Celebrates

DR Celebrates 2017

Diversity Richmond Celebrates recognizes outstanding activism and community work

November 28th was a red letter day for the Diversity Richmond family. Governor Terry McAuliffe, Mayor Levar Stoney and VCU President, Dr. Michael Rao were among the many who celebrated the work of our organization. The Governor received the Schall-Townley Award for Extraordinary Personal Action for his steadfast support of the LGBT community. The recognition is named for Carol Schall and Mary Townley, two Richmond women who successfully challenged Virginia’s unfair marriage laws.

VCU’s Dr. Rao and the school’s Chief of Police, John Venuti, were recognized for making possible the planting of a transgender memorial tree at the VCU police headquarters on Broad Street. Included in that award was local activist Kenneth Decker, whose vision of the tree memorial became a reality. Kenneth also brought the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance annual event to Richmond.

Receiving the “We Stand on Your Shoulders Award” was Willie J. Dell, an early ally for the LGBT community and the first African American woman elected to Richmond’s City Council. Also receiving the award was local therapist Dr. Donnie Conner for his years of community support, and Richmond Triangle Players as they celebrated their 25th anniversary.

Richmond Mayor Stoney brought long-time activist Guy Kinman to the stage as we celebrated his 100th birthday. Mayor Stoney read a lengthy proclamation by the City, declaring Guy’s birthday as “Guy Kinman “ for the City of Richmond. Wow.

Other individuals and organizations recognized for their community support were: Joe and Emilia Sparatta of Heritage Restaurant, Altria Group, Capital Ale House, Chiptole, Raul Cantu of Nacho Mama’s, Virginia Pride, Lamar Advertising, Prime Timers of Central Virginia, AARP, Babe’s of Carytown, Club Colors and the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.

Pictured L to R: James Parrish of Equality Virginia; Carol Schall and Mary Townley; Gov. McAuliffe; Diversity Board Chair, Art Toth; and Mayor Levar Stoney

Diversity funds twelve nonprofits this year

Since 1999, Diversity Richmond has contributed nearly $1Million to local LGBT and LGBT-friendly nonprofits. This is made possible mainly by Diversity Thrift and Diversity Bingo proceeds. Diversity also bestows thousands of dollars each year by donating free meeting and storage space to nonprofits.

Those organizations funded this year are:

  • Twin Oaks Community, $500 to support the community rural outreach;
  • Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, $1,000 to conduct workshops addressing bullying to Henrico County School administrators;
  • Alzheimer’s Association, $1,000 to continue LGBT memory loss support groups;
  • Jewish Family Services, $1,000 to help defray adoption expenses for LGBT people;
  • Richmond Triangle Players, $1,500 to support Spectrum, the only youth program for queer youth in the Commonwealth;
  • Senior Connections, $1,500 to continue outreach to senior LGBT people;
  • Virginia Anti-Violence Project, $1,500 to help LGBT people impacted by violence;
  • Health Brigade, $1,500 to fund the clinic’s transgender services;
  • Side By Side, $1,500 to train youth as public speakers and ambassadors;
  • Planned Parenthood, $2,000 to fund transgender services;
  • Nationz Foundation, $2,500 to increase HIV-testing.

Beyond the Valley of Wigs in Space Tee Shirt

JAC WigsTee jealousgods

Limited edition, soft 100% Cotton Canvas brand tee shirt with full color image of J. Alan Cumbey’s Jealous Gods #2 from the current Iridian Gallery exhibit, Beyond the Valley of Wigs in Space.

Please specify sizes:
Women’s L
Women’s XL
note, women’s sizes run very small.

Unisex sizes

$25 includes free standard shipping to U.S. addresses.

Orders will be taken through Wed., Nov. 29, 7:00 PM


Diversity Richmond announces 2017-18 Grant Request for Proposals

It’s that time of year again when Diversity Richmond shares the goodness that our community has made possible. We have $15,000 to fund projects that support the LGBTQ community.

Deadline for applications is
Monday, November 6, 2017 by 3:00 P.M.

Click on this link to download the application

Since 1999, Diversity Richmond has granted more than $955,000 to LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly organizations. This is made possible through proceeds of Diversity Thrift, Diversity Bingo, special events and our generous donors. The organization also grants free meeting and storage space to nonprofits. Last year, more than 8,000 people used our building for free.

The board, staff and volunteers of Diversity Richmond gratefully acknowledges the support of our wonderful community. We could never do what we do without you.

To support Diversity Richmond, donate by credit card here or mail checks to Diversity Richmond, 1407 Sherwood Avenue, Richmond, VA 23220.