Queer Intersections

Queer Intersections Evan Keith

Quan McLaurin resigned from his position as the Director of Diversity Retention at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. In his public resignation letter he shared: "It is morally unconscionable for me, as Director of Diversity Retention, to ask students of color to stay at a university and within a space that not only does not value their well-being and lives, but actually perpetuates very real and damaging racial trauma against trauma, and then 'gaslights' and silences them by grossly appropriating scripture."

This episode focuses on Quan's experiences as a student and staff member at Liberty, his work to create affirming spaces for Black and LGBTQ+ students, and the LU Underground Railroad which raises money for employees of color who want to leave but can't afford to.
Support Quan's efforts here.

Queer Intersections (formerly Front Porch) is a Diversity Richmond podcast focusing on the perspectives and experiences of LGBTQ+ people of color around throughout Virginia. The show is hosted by VCU School of Social Work Ph.D. candidate Keith Watts and Diversity Richmond Program Coordinator Evan Smith. The show aims to give a platform to individuals whose identities and voices are often erased.

Listen to Diversity Richmond's QUEER INTERSECTIONS

Greater Richmond LGBTQIA+ Community Needs Assessment

LGBTQIA needs asessment

Greater Richmond LGBTQIA+ Community Survey

Are you and LGBTQ+ person 18 or older living in the greater Richmond area?

You are invited to participate in a survey about the experiences of members of the LGBTQIA+ community living in or around Richmond and the perception of the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community. The study is being conducted to inform the development and targeting of potential requests for support for services, programs and resources for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Learn more and access the survey here

Greater Richmond LGBTQIA+ Community Needs Assessment

You are invited to participate in a research study about the experiences of members of the LGBTQIA+ community living in or around Richmond and the perception of the needs of the LGBTQ community. The study is being conducted to inform the development and targeting of potential requests for support for services, programs and resources for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Be part of a focus group of Latinx, African American, older (55+), youth, or transgender members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the Richmond area. In this study, you will go to a group meeting, lasting about one hour. In the meeting, you will be in a group with 5 to 12 other members of the LGBTQ+ community. You will be asked to talk about things like experiences in the community, the kinds of support that you receive, needs that you see for LGBTQIA+ community and places where you feel safe. For more information on how to participate here.

Viva! RVA Food Drive

Food Drive Flyer

Viva! RVA Food Drive!

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, Diversity Richmond is conducting a food drive. Our goal is to assist 500 local Hispanic families with a week's supply of groceries. Diaz Foods is supporting this effort by selling us food at cost. With that contribution and the $2.500 already raised, we can help 200 families. Our goal is 500.

 For more information, please contact Raul Cantu, Diversity Richmond Event Coordinator 804-678-8138

 

Jean Segner, Diversity Richmond Treasurer

Jean

The past month has been such an emotional rollercoaster. The heartbreaking tragedy of seeing George Floyd murdered, and adding his name to the list of people including Breonna Tayler, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin and too many more who have cruelly and senselessly lost their lives to hate. Yet walking side-by-side with protestors in our city I have also felt exhilaration and hope that we would collectively acknowledge and work to change the systemic and institutional racism that pervades our city, state and nation today. What I have learned from many years fighting for equality and justice is that it will take continued effort from all of us to sustain the momentum and realize the sea change that has begun. Diversity Richmond can and must be part of this effort to eliminate racism and marginalization.”

Ava Entzminger, Diversity Thrift Supervisor

Ava, Diversity Thrift

Most people say that they can’t wait for things to get back to normal. As for me, I don’t want some things to go back to normal. If some people think police brutality and killing Black men and woman is normal, then something is wrong with that normal.

If you think normal is killing LGBTQ people and we hear on the news that a gay man or transgender person is found dead because of who they are, is normal, then something is wrong with that normal.

If you think good healthcare is not for all, then something is wrong with that normal.
If you think it is okay for people of color to keep getting turned down for houses and loans, then something is wrong with that normal.

If you think refusing to unveil our 44th President Barack Obama’s portrait in the White House, then something is damn wrong with that normal.

I say, we are looking for equality, not revenge. No matter how educated or rich you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all. I CAN’T BREATHE! Amazing! Ava can breathe now! I’m speaking the truth!

Art Toth, Diversity Richmond Board Chair

Art

As a white man, I realize how the silence of white people has served as a catalyst in bringing about racial injustices. White people have a moral responsibility to stand and speak loudly and fully support people of color in their struggles for equality and fairness. If not, we are just as guilty as the oppressors.

Beth Marschak, Diversity Richmond Board Member

Beth

This is a good time for monumental change!

Black Lives Matter is focusing our attention on police brutality and murdering Black people, which is nothing new in our city or our country. Our city’s history is rooted in the trade of enslaved Black people that created more wealth than tobacco, iron manufacturing and flour mills combined – the second largest market in enslaved people in our country. Our city was built by the labor of enslaved Black people. That violence against Black people continued under Jim Crow and Massive Resistance.

At the same time, Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths reflect the racial and ethnic disparities in our communities with Black and LatinX people impacted much more than their percentage in the population. Many essential workers are paid sub-standard wages, and are most at risk for Covid-19 because they are in jobs requiring frequent close contact with others. Small businesses are cheated out of emergency loans by very large corporations.

LGBTQ+ people are also experiencing violence and murder. Black transgender people are the ones who experience the worst of this, but most of us have some incidence ranging from verbal violence to murder. Young people continue to suffer from bullying and harassment.

It would be hard for us not to notice what is happening.

But, this is also a good time to lend our support and work for structural change, which is the way to end structural racism.

For Richmond that includes a civilian police review board and the Marcus Alert, as well as changing our funding priorities to emphasize social work, mental health work and education. It also means removing those physical representatives of structural racism – the monuments to the lost cause and white supremacy.

And, it also means committing or re-committing ourselves to know more about structural racism and support efforts to eliminate it. That includes understanding the school to prison pipeline, what is needed for health equity, what Diversity Richmond can do, and so much more - what we can do so that none of us are left behind.

I am making that commitment and I urge others in the LGBTQ+ community to do the same.

Evan Smith, Diversity Richmond Program Coordinator

Evan Smith

This is a time of action and upheaval to ensure that Black lives and the many identities and experiences that exist, especially Black LGBTQ+ identities, are prioritized with the utmost respect and grace. It’s beyond maddening that Black death in the form of a public lynching is necessary to show others the true reality of this country, but we can honor those who have passed by making sure their existence is not forgotten through tangible change or the removal of certain institutions. As a result, this is not a time for respectability, peace, or compromise. Our ancestors before us have gone through too much for us to settle for less.

As a community, we must challenge ourselves to find our role in this particular moment and the many opportunities to come. If you have the means or ability, you can always support organizations financially, amplify voices speaking out, have conversations with friends and family who need to be educated about racism, hold government officials accountable, or attend a protest. This moment will only be what it needs if community organizers and the people who are on the front lines and have already taken action against systemic racism are joined by others who have been complicit in the harms this country is enacted. Together, another world is possible.

Diversity Thrift prepares for reopening

DT linens

A few weeks ago, Susie Wood visited Diversity Thrift to collect free fabric to make face masks. A longtime shopper, she was already familiar with the store, but this visit caused her to want to do more. Now she is really in her element as she is now our official “fabric volunteer.” Pictured is Susie filtering through the hundreds of donated fabrics that our generous donors made possible. Diversity Thrift will open as soon as we feel it’s safe to do. Our staff and customers are our first priority.

Keri Abrams

Keri

As we continue to get through this pandemic together, Diversity Richmond is highlighting our wonderful board members that make our work possible. This month’s feature is Keri Abrams.

How did you first become aware of Diversity Richmond, and what led you to join the board?

Traveling Interstate 95 frequently through downtown Richmond, I couldn't help but notice Diversity Richmond which at the time was the Gay Community Center of Richmond. When I came out as transgender I never gave the organization much thought due to its name. But after meeting Bill Harrison and other staffers and board members I understood the mission and direction and wanted to become a part of this organization.

How many years have you served on the board, what responsibilities do you have, and what contributions have you made?

I have been serving on the board for 4 years. I am on the Program Committee and work toward programming directed to and for the trans community

What is your favorite thing about Diversity Richmond and the greater LGBTQ+ community as a whole?

My favorite things about Diversity Richmond are the work we do in and for our local LGBTQ communities, the value of Diversity Thrift, and the Iridian Gallery. But most of all the fantastic people that work for this wonderful organization. From the management to the store employees, everyone believes in the mission of Diversity Richmond and shows that everyday with warm smiles to everyone entering the doors.

What has been Diversity Richmond’s greatest moment/accomplishment while you have been on the board?

The greatest thing I believe the organization has done was the re-branding to "Diversity Richmond". The trans community never felt welcomed, included, or comfortable, under the previous moniker. But once the name was changed to include the word diversity, and the commitment was made to ensure that inclusion, the trans community found a welcoming space.

Tell us about your day job, title, responsibilities. What do you like most about you career and how did you get on this path?

I am a motorcycle technician and work for the company that supports the motorcycle safety and training programs for the state of Virginia. I love this job mainly due to the fact that motorcycling is one of my passions and it is a great place to work!

What is a passion of yours outside of your work/career?

My biggest passion outside of work is my dog. My world pretty much revolves around her. She is big, and getting bigger everyday. She is what helps keep me sane and grounded most times. She is an Alaskan Malamute and her name is Shila.

What do you like most about volunteering and why do you do it?

Volunteering is something I am compelled to do. I can't really give a reason on why I love doing it other than "it is just the right thing for me to be doing".

What’s something or a fun fact about you that not many people know?

Something that most people probably do not know about me, I am pretty handy with home repairs. From installing kitchen cabinets, garbage disposals, ceiling fans, and hot water heaters, there isn't much I will not attempt to save money!

What’s your favorite book, movie, or tv show? Why?

I have lot's of favorite TV shows and movies. But what tops the list is anything and everything science fiction. "To boldly go where".............you get the picture!

What are some things you are doing for self-care right now?

Outside of my normal routine, my day to day life for self-care has not changed very much due to the current health climate.

What’s the best advice you have received and who gave it to you?

The best advice that I have ever received and acted on was when I first started my transition. I had just come out and wasn't sure on much of anything at the time. My best and dearest friend literally grabbed me by the arm, looked directly at me and said, "I know who you are and what you need to do, now YOU need to make that decision and do it"! I made that decision and ten years later I am living my life as ME and could not be any happier!

Richmond Mayor holds news conference at Diversity Richmond

Mayor Stoney news conference

Richmond Mayor, Levar Stoney recently held a news conference in the Diversity event hall to update the community on the city’s efforts to address issues surrounding the impact of the Corona virus. He began his remarks by sharing that donating space for testing is just one example of how Diversity Richmond has played major roles in the life of Richmond.

Health Departments conducting virus testing at Diversity

DR virus testing

The Henrico and Richmond Health Districts conducted COVID-19 testing recently is the Diversity event hall. About 175 tests were conducted. Health department staff will call those who are tested within 3-5 days with test results. They will also return for more testing on June 2,16 and 30th. For more information, call the COVID-19 Hotline at 804-205-3501. Diversity Richmond is very pleased to support the testing efforts by donating the event hall usage.

Picture: Richmond and Henrico healthcare staff tested 175 people recently at the testing site in the Diversity event hall.

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