What Diversity Richmond Means to Me

Keith Watts PhotoBy Keith J. Watts

As a recent transplant to Richmond, and as a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Diversity Richmond has been nothing short of a resource. And while thankful for the enormous strides our community has made over the years in effecting the societal and cultural changes that have made my life as an openly gay man conceivable in any way, spaces such as Diversity Richmond are still often difficult to find. In the nearly two years that I have now lived here, Diversity Richmond has been a space for me to access a spiritual community, engage in research projects, volunteer and participate in fun events such as Drag Bingo, attend public book readings from authors as well as events honoring local LGBTQIA+ advocates–such as the “Black and Bold Awards”–and to thrift for some really unique fashions! Diversity Richmond has become a ‘one stop shop’ for most of my community needs!

Being a gay Black man, I am no stranger to the marginalization that so many LGBTQIA+ people of color experience within our community, and that is what makes the culture of inclusivity that clearly exists at Diversity Richmond so remarkable. Living up to its name, I have connected with folks from all walks of life through this organization, and that alone has provided me with opportunities to develop the relationships, mentorship, and support that were crucial to me feeling affirmed and at home here in Richmond. Doubtlessly, there is much more work to do on the road to equality, but it is truly encouraging to see organizations like Diversity Richmond taking the lead in this mission. I continue to be inspired by the work that Diversity Richmond does with the local community of LGBTQIA+ people and allies, and the indelible impact it has had on so many of our lives. This is what Diversity Richmond means to me.

I also hope that you will join me for our Sunday Social Hour Men’s Group on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month at 4:15 pm – 6:15 pm. It’ll be a treat! The group will be meeting in the Classroom (Door Entrance #2). If you would like additional information, please feel free to email me at . Hope to see you there.

Drag Bingo Big Hit!

Drag Bingo

Thank you to everyone who attended our recent drag bingo. Not only did we give away almost $2,000 to bingo winners, we also had a great party and celebrated community. Special events such as this allows Diversity Richmond to continually support the local LGBTQ community. Since 1999, we have donated more than $1 Million to local organizations. More drag bingo soon! Stay tuned.

Religion and the LGBT community

Faith WRIR

Three local faith leaders discuss the role of religion in our community…the good, the bad and the ugly.

Our most recent WRIR FM segment is a conversation with (left to right above) the Rev. Jean Pupke, Rev. Lacette Cross and Luise “Cheezie” Farmer about how religion has impacted our community. Our show, “Diversity Richmond Speaks,” airs the first Monday of each month on WRIR FM 97.3.


The Front Porch

The Front Porch

Diversity Richmond has partnered with WRIR once again for a new and exciting radio show, hosted by Vice President and Deputy Director, Rodney Lofton, titled “The Front Porch.”

“The Front Porch” was created to provide a voice and venue for Queer People of Color in Central Virginia, by addressing issues around race, gender and inclusion in the LGBTQ Community in Richmond and surrounding areas.

Take a listen to the most recent interview addressing Blackface and the LGBTQ Community, featuring guests (left to right above) Dr. Ravi Perry, Reverend Lacette Cross, Brooke Taylor, and Chelsea Higgs Wise.


Oh What A Night

Black and Bold 2019

February 15th was the hottest night in the City of Richmond, as hundreds gathered on the campus of the HBCU Virginia Union University for Diversity Richmond’s 3rd Annual Black and Bold Leadership Awards Ceremony.

Initiated in 2017, this award winning event was created to recognize the contributions and leadership of out and proud African-American LGBTQ community members. This year was no exception, as Diversity Richmond not only continued to expand recognition to the community’s allies, but also included LGBTQ representatives across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

This year’s event celebrated a wide range of community members. From local youth activists to a member of the United States House of Representatives.
Honorees this year included:

Dr. Veronica Ayala-Sims
2nd Lieutenant Deuntay Diggs
Quincy Evans
Gregg Fordham
Jaide Hinds-Clarke
SWERV Magazine
Brooke Taylor
Congressman A. Donald McEachin
Legendary Drag Entertainer, Christmas Snow

If you are interested in joining the planning committee for the 4th Annual Black and Bold Leadership Awards, please contact Rodney Lofton at (804) 622-4646 ext. 203 or email Rodney.

Diversity Richmond Celebrates 2018

$30,000 in Grants Presented to Local Nonprofits

Grants 2018

It is another banner year for Diversity Richmond as we celebrate individuals and organizations for their outstanding work and accomplishments. From supporting adoption and foster care to transgender health services, public school LGBT student groups, combating LGBT homelessness and theatre productions, Diversity Richmond is making a difference.

Through our 2018 grants, we are investing $30,000 by supporting 13 local nonprofits that take dollars and change the lives of countless numbers of people. We also recognized the accomplishments of several people who have made significant contributions to our community.

Award Recipients:

Big Smooch Award, Stonewall Sports-Richmond
Guy J. Kinman, Jr. Leadership Award, The Honorable Levar Stoney, Mayor of Richmond
We Stand On Your Shoulders Award, Riqia Taylor
Diversity Embraces Award, Lisa Cumbey
President’s Philanthropy Award, Cassi Niemann and Hunter Rhoades
Big Smooch Award, Loretta Mountcastle, Vicki Jolena-Orthaus and Martha Ann Spruill

2018 Grant Awards:

Transgender Veterans Support Group
Twin Oaks Queer Gathering
Metropolitan Community Church
Richmond Triangle Players
Monument City Music
Health Brigade
Virginia League of Planned Parenthood
Restoration Fellowship
Lutheran Family Services of Virginia
Virginia Anti-Violence Project
NATIONZ Foundation



In commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of World AIDS Day, Richmond Triangle Players’ Robert B. Moss Theater hosted “RVAIDS,” a documentary drama that incorporated various mediums to honor those infected and affected by HIV.
This moving and powerful performance was written by University of Richmond students in the course The AIDS Epidemic in Richmond: A Documentary Theater Project, taught by Laura Browder and Patricia Herrera, under the directorial guidance of Jose Joaquin Garcia.
In addition to the documentary drama, a community conversation was held featuring panelists Lisa Cumbey, Social Justice Activist (and primary caretaker) of artist J. Alan Cumbey, who died of AIDS in 1992, Karen Legato, Executive Director of Health Brigade, Zakia McKensey, Founder of Nationz Foundation and University of Richmond student, India Henderson.
The panel discussion was moderated by Rodney Lofton, Vice President and Deputy Director of Diversity Richmond.

First Baptist Church Welcomes LGBT for Community Conversation

First BaptistWhen we received the invitation from a pastor at Richmond’s First Baptist Church to participate in a congregational conversation about the LGBT community, he reassured us that it was in attempt “to have an honest dialogue”….for us not to fear because the invitation was coming from a Baptist Church.

The hour and a half discussion addressed many issues and was well received by the group of about 50 church members. “As I entered the room, I was met by a woman who confided that her child was gay and would not attend church because they had been told that God did not love them. This was causing her obvious pain,” shared Bill Harrison.

“It was emotional at times for all four of the panelists, I think. We each shared our own hurts, victories and those of our LGBT brothers and sisters. If someone has issues with our community it is usually based on religion and discussing those topics in a safe environment is when understanding takes place.”

It was a good day. While we were probably “preaching to the choir” as the majority were vocally understanding and supportive, hearts were touched, and stronger bonds were formed.

“What else can we do?” was asked by several members. “Where do we go from here?” Yes, it was a good day to be in church.

Diversity Richmond Loves Altria!

Altria paints

We have a longstanding relationship with the good people at Altria. The most recent project they completed for us was the painting of our classroom, a space that is used for free most every night by a LGBT organization. They even supplied the paint and brushes. And the room looks great!

Other Altria help that has been provided was the funding of two buses to the LGBT March On Washington and the painting of our beautiful murals on the exterior of our facility. Pictured is the happy Altria group after a day of hard work.

$30,000 now available through 2018 Grants Program

We are pleased to announce that through this year’s grants program, $30,000 is available to local LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly 501(c)3 nonprofits. What would your organization do with extra funds? Put on your thinking caps and let us hear how we can help you address our community’s unmet needs.

Deadline for applications is
Monday, November 5, 2018 by 4:00 P.M.

Click on this link to download the application

Every day at Diversity Richmond we strive to build a stronger community and our annual grants program is one way we pursue that goal. Since 1999 we have given about $1Million to local community organizations. This is made possible by Diversity Thrift proceeds, special event revenues and our financial donors who support our work.

Click on the link above to complete the application. We look forward to hearing from you.

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

There should be a law requiring everyone to learn the Matthew Sheperd story

RTP Laramie 080w

The Richmond Triangle Players theater was packed to overflowing recently as we paid homage to the teenage boy who was brutally beaten and nailed to a fence because he was gay. While that happened 20 years ago, his story needs to be told now more than ever.

Present at RTP that morning was an array of political and community leaders, but the two people who could share the Matthew Sheperd story better than anyone were his parents, Judy and Dennis. The horrors of Matthew’s death, as shared by his mother, could easily happen to any number of people. Hate and prejudice knows no boundaries, be it race, religion, gender or any other means of difference. Since their son’s murder, the Sheperds have turned horror into healing by making hate crimes their lifelong campaign.

Richmond Triangle Players is soon producing “The Laramie Project,” the powerful production that tells Matthew’s story. It should be required for every LGBTQ person to attend. Our history is easy to forget, and our present state of affairs is also easy for some to ignore and that is a deadly thing.

Thank you Richmond Triangle Players. Your vision and leadership is an excellent example of the beauty and strength of our community. Bravo.

Diversity Reflections

Diversity Richmond hosts three weekly LGBTQ AA meetings.

Thursdays – 7:00 pm
Saturdays – 7:00 pm
Sundays: 11:30 am

The meetings are held in the Classroom (door entrance #2). For additional information, please visit www.AARichmond.org