Diversity Richmond receives prestigious “History Makers Award”

LGBT Black History Series Cited for Championing Social Justice

Before a crowd of hundreds of Richmond leaders, Diversity Richmond was recently recognized by the Valentine with the Museum’s esteemed “History Makers Award,” citing the organization’s LGBT Black History series as a model for championing social justice.

For the last two years, Diversity has partnered with the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, coordinating a series of events, recognizing the leadership and contributions of African American LGBT people and allies.

Diversity is the only organization in the commonwealth and possibly the nation, to conduct such recognitions. The organization is also the only LGBT organization in America to partner with a Black History Museum.

The series was conceived by Diversity’s deputy director, Rodney Lofton. Programs have included community conversations addressing issues of transgender women of color, spirituality and African American LGBT people, Black Queer politics and the annual recognition of National HIV/AIDS Awareness. Last February, the awards ceremony was held at the Black History Museum, recognizing eight people for their outstanding contributions.

“Once again Diversity Richmond has made history,” shared executive director, Bill Harrison. “We are a work in progress, constantly examining our efforts. Under Rodney’s leadership we are now planning programs to recognize Hispanic leadership in our community.”

For more information about LGBT Black History and other outreach programs, contact Rodney Lofton.

Dominion Energy supports Diversity Richmond

Dominion Energy supports Diversity Richmond

Thank you very much to Dominion Energy for supporting Diversity Richmond. The company was a major sponsor of our recent LGBT Black History series. Presenting the check to Rodney Lofton is Dominion Energy’s Floyd Taylor.

“You couldn’t keep me away with a ten-foot pole!” ~ Diversity Board member, Brian Harrison

Brian Harrison and SunTrust

By Mattie Coll

Brian Harrison has served as a Diversity board member for three years and chairs the Special Events and Fundraising Committee. The committee coordinates several events every year, helping to raise much needed funds in support of Diversity Richmond programs. His board term ends in June.

A SunTrust employee, Brian has often recruited co-workers as volunteers at Diversity Thrift and at events that have attracted hundreds of participants. Brian has also been the LGBTQ Teammate Networks Chair at SunTrust for the past three years.

Brian returned to Richmond six years ago, from Baltimore. He was a director with a similar organization in the Washington D.C. / Baltimore area, “Brother, Help Thyself” and appreciates that Diversity emphasizes fundraising and community support.

Above, Brian Harrison, left, works with SunTrust
LGBTQ Teammate Networks volunteers in Diversity Thrift.

That community support was the reason he wanted to join Diversity. “I like the philanthropy of this organization. I also like interacting with the community. Community engagement is important to me.” Being a part of Diversity has given him, “A feeling of activism and being able to support the LGBTQ community in Richmond.”

When asked if he will continue to volunteer at Diversity after his board membership ends, he laughed and said, “You couldn’t keep me away with a ten-foot pole.”

We give big thanks to Brian for his commitment to Diversity Richmond. We have benefitted from his wealth of experience and are sure he will be an important part of the Diversity team for many years to come.

Customer finds ancestors in Diversity Thrift!

DT family photoRegular thrift store customer, Jerry Dagenhart was elated during a recent visit. “My niece saw the picture on the store’s Facebook page and emailed me, asking if they were not our relatives. And they are!” Jerry hastened to the store and, thankfully, the picture was still there.

The photograph is of Jerry’s great aunt and uncle, Ed and Cenie Dagenhart, taken about 1910.

Diversity Richmond recognized by The Valentine with Richmond History Makers award

Richmond History Makers

Diversity Richmond is being honored on March 13 with the prestigious “Richmond History Makers “ award. The annual presentation, hosted by The Valentine, will be held at Virginia Union University, Claude G. Perkins Living and Learning Center.

Diversity is being recognized in the “Championing Social Justice” category. The organization’s 2017 celebration of Black LGBTQ History Month impressed the judges, who stated, “This nonprofit has evolved into a multifaceted organization while remaining a respected voice for the acceptance of sexual and gender minorities.”

For the past two years, Diversity Richmond partnered with the Black History and Cultural Center of Virginia to recognize the contributions of African American LGBTQ people and their allies. It is the only LGBTQ organization in the country to have such a partnership with a Black History Museum. It is also the only such organization in Virginia to celebrate LGBTQ Black History Month.

Rodney Lofton, Diversity Richmond Deputy Director, will accept the award.

“We are certainly honored and humbled,” shared Diversity Board Chair, Art Toth. “The entire month of recognitions was Rodney Lofton’s idea and it has become a very meaningful time for us all. I don’t think many objectives better define who we are striving to become than our Black History programs.”

Click here for more information or to purchase tickets

Please vote for your favorite thrift store!

Style Weekly’s annual Best of Richmond contest

It’s that time of year again when Style Weekly runs their annual Best of Richmond contest. There is a category for best thrift store, if one in particular comes to mind!


Capital One employee volunteers were a big help with huge Fan Video donation

Capital One Volunteers

The popular store, Fan Video, located on Strawberry Street, closed their doors a while back. They were most generous as they donated their entire film inventory to Diversity Thrift. We have hundreds of DVDs and VHS tapes of every genre. Comedies, classics, love stories, dramas, chick-flicks ~ we have it all. And we are practically giving them away at $1 each.

The good folks at Capital One took on the project of installing our video pop-up store to showcase this fantastic gift. Thank you for the generous contribution and help from both Fan Video and Capital One.

Ethnic Studies Conference

Ethnic StudiesVCU hosts the 46th Annual Conference of the Association for Ethnic Studies which focuses on confronting white neo nationalism. There are more than 40 sessions and 200 presenters.

March 8 - 10; $10 (day rate)
Learn more

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.