Diversity Richmond welcomes two dynamic board members

Former Richmond Police LGBT Liaison Odetta Johnson and Local Communication Director, Domenick Casuccio

We are proud to announce two new Diversity Richmond Board members, Odetta Johnson and Domenick Casuccio. Both are well known respected leaders and we look forward to working with them as the community benefits through their leadership.

Odetta is a former Chief of Police for North Carolina University where she was in charge of campus safety and emergency management for a student body of over 8,500. Prior to serving at NCCU, she served on administrative leave from Richmond Police at Virginia Union University as the Interim Chief of Police. During her service with Richmond she also was the first LGBT Police Liaison in the Richmond Metropolitan Area. She retired with the rank of Major. Odetta also held the rank of Captain, leading a staff of more than 120 employees. She served the Richmond Police for 25 years.

Domenick has served on our programs committee and brings much experience in the areas of marketing, communications and media. He has already been instrumental in fundraising for Diversity, serving as a consultant for our recent Day of Giving. Domenick is a Director of Communications for the American Cancer Society.

Prior, he was the Director of Public Relations and Marketing at The Valentine. One of his many accomplishments while there was leading The Valentine in a comprehensive social media and marketing effort that significantly increased visibility and memberships. He also led the museum in completing a major renovation of their main galleries and the campaign for the opening of the newly remodeled space.

It is easy to see why we are so excited to have both Odetta and Domenick as a part of the Diversity Richmond family.

Richmond task force to establish a Human Rights Commission

Richmond City Council established a Task Force on the Establishment of a Human Rights Commission to evaluate the need for and scope of a Human Rights Commission. Please use the survey below to indicate your experiences in the City of Richmond within the past five years. The survey will be open for through September 21, 2017. Your responses are appreciated and will assist the Commission in their efforts. Any questions, please contact .

Take the survey

VA Pride is more than just Pridefest

Every September, VA Pride hosts a massive outdoor festival called Pridefest that features entertainment, activities, vendors, speakers and Youth Pride Village. Last year, Pridefest was attended by an estimated 30,000 people, making it one of the largest one-day events in our region. And we are hard at work to ensure that this year’s festival will be bigger and better than ever.

But, VA Pride, the organization, has made a concerted effort to expand its role in the community beyond a one-day event. Our board has adopted the philosophy that Pride should be more than just a festival. It should be a feeling that our LGBTQ community should have all year long. Our community should be proud of who they are, where they live and what they contribute to our society.

This year, we embarked on an ambitious campaign to host more events, to increase our visibility and to support the work of our community partners in new and exciting ways. Between April and the festival in September, VA Pride will have hosted or supported more than two-dozen LGBTQ community events. We partnered with Richmond Triangle Players to bring Coco Peru to town who performed her act to a sold-out house. We hosted a Memorial Day cookout at Babes. We’ve partned with Quirk Rooftop to host a bi-weekly happy hour to bring people together. We’ve worked with our friends at Hardywood, Ardent and Center of the Universe to create fun and unique events at their facilities and will sponsor events at Barcode, Godfrey’s and Babes leading up to the festival. Information on upcoming events can be found at www.vapride.org/events.

We sponsored “Nerve-Stories of Queer Resilience” with the Virginia Anti-Violence Project and helped fund transportation to the March for Equality in Washington with Diversity Richmond.

VA Pride has also stepped up to be a voice for the LGBTQ community in the media, offering perspective, balance and accurate information in the ever-changing landscape of the fight for equality. We’ve been featured in local news broadcasts and in multiple features in the Richmond Times Dispatch. For the first time ever, we worked with GayRVA to produce a summer edition of the Pride Guide that contained features on members of our community, news about events and explored issues of race, gender and sexual orientation. We also maintain an active social media presence with some 10,000 followers to stay connected to our community to help those in our community stay connected to each other.

As VA Pride grows, both as a festival and an organization, there are more opportunities — and a greater need — for our community to get involved in what we do. We welcome volunteers to serve on committees to help plan Pridefest, support events and to help with marketing and community outreach. And, of course, we need hundreds of volunteers to help make Pridefest a success on September 23. IF you’d like to get involved, please visit www.vapride.org/volunteer.

VA Pride is of our community, for our community. Live Free. Live Proud. And we’ll see you on Saturday, September 23!

PRIDE Scholarship applications due Sept. 8

VA PrideVirginia Pride’s Board of Directors is proud to assist members of the LGBTQ community and their friends, family and supporters with the expenses of post-high school education. Since 2013, their total scholarship allotment has grown from $1,000 to $8,000, thanks to the generosity of their Scholarship Sponsor! Scholarships will be awarded to the recipients onstage at VA PrideFest 2017 on Sept. 23, to be used as reimbursement for educational expenditures incurred during the 2017-2018 school year.

Get the application here

Governor McAuliffe recognizes Pride month for last time

Governor McAuliffe recognizes Pride

Once again, Governor Terry McAuliffe, in recognition of Pride Month, hosted the LGBT community at the Executive Mansion. McAuliffe is the first Virginia governor to hold recognitions in honor of the annual celebration.

Attendees from across the commonwealth were greeted by the Governor who thanked everyone for their support over the last four years. The Governor has been a staunch supporter of marriage equality and nondiscrimination measures that protect LGBT people.

Governor McAuliffe also recognized Equality Virginia and their executive director, James Parrish for the outstanding leadership that has been a major force in legislative progress as well as helping stop bad bills from becoming law. Virginia Pride president James Milner presented a gift on behalf of all Virginia pride festival organizers to Governor and Mrs. McAuliffe.

About 150 people attended the reception.

Pictured above: (L-R) Side By Side Director, Ted Lewis; Diversity Board Chair, Art Toth; Governor McAuliffe; Diversity Richmond Director, Bill Harrison and Nationz Executive Director, Zakia McKensey

Governor McAuliffe recogizes Pride month for last time

Left: Gov. McAuliffe and Equality Virginia Director, James Parrish. Right: Virginia Pride President James Millner (far right) and other festival organizers from across the commonwealth recognized Gov. and Mrs. McAuliffe for their on-going support.

Diversity Richmond launches five year strategic plan

Responsible nonprofits stay in touch with their communities. The needs and expectations of the public change and nonprofits must keep up or will become obsolete.

As busy as this place is, it’s difficult to imagine Diversity Richmond becoming outdated, but we take our responsibilities seriously. For the past several months we have been laying the groundwork, setting priorities for our next five years and are now mapping the next steps.

Over the last few years our workload has grown tremendously. For example, through a grant from Altria, we are battling homelessness in the LGBTQ community. Through referrals of partner agencies we are helping people who are facing dire circumstances, only because they are LGBTQ.

We continually look for ways to help. None of this work could be done without community support. Thank you for your ongoing allegiance to bringing about a fuller community of justice.

DR Board of Directors

Diversity Richmond Board of Directors (L-R) Jean Segner, treasurer; Beth Marschak, past chair; Crystal Suber, vice chair; Art Toth, chair; Cheezi Farmer, secretary. (Back L-R) Michael-Birch Pierce, Ayana Obika, Keri Abrams, Robyn Deane, Ray Green*, Brian Harrison and Robyn Bentley.
*After several years of service, Ray Green recently retired from the board.

Diversity Richmond partners with University of Richmond and The Valentine

DR partners UR Valentine

Recording HIV/AIDS Richmond history

For several months, The Valentine has been working on an upcoming exhibit, Pandemic, addressing epidemics that have affected Richmonders. The project will include the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the impact that the disease had on our city. The HIV companion piece, HIV@RVA is being produced by the University of Richmond, through the leadership of Professor Laura Browder. The main voices of HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns during the height of the epidemic were of white gay men. People of color rarely saw their faces on posters and public service announcements or in any media form. As an end result, many people became infected because the lack of effective outreach. HIV@RVA will address the fact that the stories of people of color living with HIV-disease have gone untold, unnoticed and unappreciated. While much of the project work is being donated, Diversity Richmond donated $1,500 as start-up funds. “This is an incredibly important project,” stated Diversity Director, Bill Harrison. “We have a moral obligation to have a fuller story told and we are honored to play a role in this.”

Pictured: Diversity Richmond Deputy Director, Rodney Lofton presents a $1,500 check to University of Richmond professor and curator of HIV@RVA, Laura Browder for HIV/AIDS history project

Diversity Thrift donation lands in North Carolina museum

DT donation NC museum

While recently processing thrift store donations, store manager, Ava Entzinger came across a pocket-sized photograph album. Entitled “Grandma’s Favorites,” the owner’s name was inscribed along with the note,” These precious photos are my valued treasures.” The grandmother’s name, Reidsville, North Carolina address and phone number were listed in case the album was ever lost.
So we did a little research and located the address on-line. The home looks vacant, but it’s a charming two story house with lots of shrubs and trees. It was easy to picture the grandmother on the porch or working in her garden.

We contacted the Museum and Archives of Rockingham in Reidsville and they are elated to add the album to their collections.  The Museum’s Jordan Rossi wrote, “As a county museum we emphasize genealogy and frequently offer genealogy consultations. Photographs are especially meaningful to people researching their families. We are excited to add this.”

Connections like these are not unusual at Diversity Thrift, but with this particular donation, there is a happy ending as it will be safely preserved forever.

LGBT Southerners are not invisible

LGBT Institute Survey 2017

The LGBT Institute at the Center for Civil and Human Rights has partnered with Georgia State University to conduct an anonymous, volunteer research study of LGBTQ people in the South. Dozens of community and grassroots organizations and individuals are helping spread the word. Diversity Richmond is one of them, and we hope you’ll join us.

You can take the Survey here. We know the South is under attack most often when it comes to anti-LGBTQ legislation and physical violence, even though more LGBTQ people live in the South than anywhere else in the country. And, compared to all LGBT funding, the South received little for research.

This survey aims to help fill this gap, and ensure our stories are told. Solid research is an important tool that helps us tell our stories and dismantle discriminatory systems. The need for this survey has become even more urgent as LGBTQ people are being erased from policy and research: LGBTQ questions from the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP) and the upcoming 2020 United States Census are gone. This survey make clear: our lives and our experiences will not be erased. Please join Diversity Richmond in taking and promoting the survey.

Orlando anniversary recognized In Richmond

Orlando anniversary

Pictured L-R Jennyfer Hernandez, Lisa Delao, Flor Lo’pez Trejo, and Michael “Mikey” Trujillo.

On June 12 an observance marking the first anniversary of the mass murder of 49 and the injury of 53 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida was marked with an hour of reflection and words of encouragement. The service was coordinated by staff and volunteers of the Virginia Anti-Violence Project. About 50 people attended the event held in Byrd Park.

The bright blue skies and white clouds, the gentle sounds of the lake, the music of birds and the calm breezes were a perfect setting for people to share thoughts and prayers for the dead and the living. It was a chapel where all were welcomed and encompassed.
The service included the reading of the 49 names with candles being illuminated as each name was recited in both Spanish and English. Spanish translation was provided throughout the service.

May we never forget Orlando. Thank you Virginia Anti-Violence Project for helping us remember and heal.

Orlando anniversary

Deep Run shown at Virginia Historical Society

Deep Run shown at Virginia Historical Society

Local airing funded by Diversity Richmond

“Deep Run,” a documentary about a young transgender man growing up in rural North Carolina aired recently at the Virginia Historical Society. His struggles with his faith, his family and community were truthfully and oftentimes painfully presented as the cameras followed Cole throughout a partial clip of his life journey. The movie was produced by Susan Sarandon and filmed in 2015.

Following the movie, a conversation was led by local transgender activist Alexander Chapman and Diversity’s Bill Harrison. The airing of “Deep Run” was partially funded by Diversity Richmond, through the Virginia Historical Society/ Diversity Richmond Guy Kinman Scholarship.

Pictured above, Left to Right: William B. Obrochta of the Virginia Historical Society, Alexander Chapman, Diversity volunteer, Wanda Fears, and Carol Obrochta

Big turnout for DRAG Bingo!

Drag Bingo

You helped raise almost $1800 for the programs of Diversity Richmond

We couldn't do it without you and our fabulous volunteers. A big thanks to our bingo managers Janet and Binky, our drag performers, Miss North America Supreme Alvion Arnell Davenport and Miss Godfreys Bianca Blake Starr. Special shout out to the Diversity Richmond Special Events and Fundraising Committee and their 99-cent drag performance of Car Wash by Rose Royce.