The engagement has been a long one, but the rings are finally being exchanged. On February 23rd, the marriage of two of the commonwealth’s leading LGBTQ organizations was announced after over a year of study and preparation.
The merger comes after years of significant growth for both organizations. Since 2015, Virginia Pride’s budget has increased by 500% with its impact through advocacy and events substantially increasing, all while being managed by an all-volunteer structure. The merger will provide additional staff and organizational infrastructure that will support continued growth.
“Pride enters into this merger at a time when both organizations are thriving,” shared Pride President, Stephanie Merlo. “We have experienced exponential growth including our annual Pridefest which attracts over 40,000 people. The responsibilities of coordinating such an event is not a reasonable expectation of an all-volunteer team.”
“By joining forces with Pride, we hope to take one and one and make three, said Diversity Board Chair, Luise “Cheezi” Farmer. “We are confident that the merger will amplify the impact of the work of both organizations and allow us to better serve the entire Richmond region.”
The boards of both organizations have approved the merger plan. Virginia Pride will submit the plan to its voting membership for approval on March 22 with the merger becoming official as of April 1, 2021.
Photo: Jamal Brooks, James Millner, Stephanie Merlo, Cheezi Farmer and Bill Harrison.
“Stronger Together” has become our new catch phrase.