Lisa D. Cumbey recognized by Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities

VCIC Lisa Cumbey

Humanitarian award presented for community contributions

For the last 53 years, the Richmond Chapter of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities has annually recognized community leaders for their work to bring about social justice by fighting discrimination through education and activism. This year, community member, Lisa Cumbey, was one of four people to receive the recognition.

VCIC works with schools, businesses and communities to achieve success by addressing prejudices in all forms. A nationally recognized organization, its progress  is cited often. For example, a middle school that VCIC partnered with, reported a 74% decrease in discipline referrals in just one year after the students and staff participated in VCIC programs.

Founding Principle of Propolis Design Group, Lisa's passion for social justice has been evident for years. Her work with the LGBT community spans back to the 1980s when she donated design and marketing services for pride festivals, AIDS fundraisers and organizations such as Fan Free Clinic and the Richmond Gay Pride Coalition. She has since donated services to many causes, including several videos for Equality Virginia's OUTstanding Virginians Awards, and branding for Richmond Lesbian Feminists. Lisa and Kim Farlow designed and executed our rebranding campaign. Lisa co-chairs our Iridian Gallery steering committee, serves on our Special Events and Fundraising committee and, with board member Robyn Bentley, produces our beautiful newsletter. It is estimated that, through her contributions of time and talent, that Lisa has donated over $1M in pro bono services to the nonprofit community.

Lisa is also the first individual recognized by VCIC for work in the LGBT community. Once again, history was made.

Pictured: VCIC chair Richard L. Thalhimer presents the 2016 Humanitarian Award to Lisa Cumbey

We never know what (or who) will come through the Diversity Thrift doors

carnival horse tableImagine the surprise of our truck drivers when they arrived at the home of one of our generous donors and this carnival carousel-like horse coffee table was awaiting pickup. We love what we do and obviously folks love us. Best thrift store in town, just ask anybody!

According to the donor, it is believed that the horse was used in the classic television show, "The Honeymooners," starring Jackie Gleason. We have no way of verifying that, but it's still fun to say that, "Rumor has it...."



Scarey-Okey brought out talented goblins among other things!

Congratulations to all of our Scary-oke prize winners,
and thank you to our judges, who had a difficult job with so much
creativity and talent to choose from!

Scary oke winners

Left to right, "Paul Bunyon," "Dr. Frank N. Furter," "Chrome Witch," and "Babe the Blue Ox."

$500 Grand Prize, Costume & Karaoke
Emmett Early, dressed as Dr. Frank N. Furter
singing "Sweet Transvestite" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show

$250 First Place Costume
Sir Amp as Chrome Witch

$100 Second Place Costume
S. Hamilton, dressed as Babe the Blue Ox and Paul Bunyon

$250 First Place Karaoke
Emmett, singing "Sweet Transvestite" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show

$100 Second Place Karaoke
Justice, singing "You Ought to Know" by Alanis Morissette

Scaryoke goblins

Ever had a party and wondered if anyone was coming? We have. After months of planning, the night finally arrived. "Scary-oke" was ready to roll.

The event hall looked great. Witches were flying in the air and the heads of ghouls rested in flower pots -- Thank you Ben Dial and Drew Myers for the amazing decor! A ton of karaoke and sound equipment was ready to blast.

Volunteers from Richmond Lesbian Feminists, RVABears, and Prime Timers filled tables with baked sweets, and RLF had it staffed. Local realtor Wanda Fears brought a big crew for the "Fears Bar." The Bears stood ready to pour libations at the "Bear Bar," and lots of women lined up to staff the "Les Bar." We didn't want anyone to have to wait for a beverage!

Our karaoke judges, Keri Abrams, Lacette Cross, Justice Dwight and Ted Lewis were ready with scorecards. Emcees Zakia Jemaceye and Aaliyah Michaels Ova had microphones in hand.

Andrea Maradiaga had her Richmond Photobooth decked out with bats and props. Volunteers were ready to welcome ghosts and goblins, provide drink tickets, food and a good time. All we needed was people.

Then it happened. The spaceships landed in the parking lot and let everyone out. Then they came in.

What an evening! Lots of gaiety and ruckus. Lots of fun, music, laughing, and really LOADS of talent. The karaoke performers outdid themselves. No one envied the judges. And it was not long before the singing brought folks to their feet and the dancing began. It was a party, Toots.

Following karaoke we had the costume parade, where the scary, zany, funny, and clever lined up for the competition. Thanks to costume judges Justice Dwight, Wanda Fears, Monica Duvall Ferrah, and Brad Kutner, a winning entry was finally tallied.

So if you missed the best Halloween party in town, don't fret. We'll be back next year by popular demand, with one difference. We won't worry about people coming. We know they will.

Scary-oke sponsors deserve our gratitude and support. Thank you to:

Major sponsor,
Lewis Insurance

Grand prize, photobooth and bar sponsor,
Wanda Fears, Treehouse Realty VA

Prize sponsor,
Lafayette * Ayers * Whitlock
Glenn E. Ayers Attorney At Law

Prize sponsor,
Diversity Richmond
Board of Directors

A special THANK YOU from the Special Events and Fundraising Committee to ALL of the volunteers who helped out with this event. If you'd like to help with events like this, please give us a shout.

Circe Strauss represents Iridian Gallery for InLight Richmond

InLight RichmondThe Iridian Gallery is proud to be represented for InLight Richmond by artist Circe Strauss. Her latest work, Swarm, will be positioned high above an intersection in the Scott's Addition neighborhood, and is a metaphor for the journey so many in the LGBTQ community experience. The surreal scene of a swarm of birds flying in every direction at once use red and green high-intensity LED strobes that create incredible illusions of lit objects and colored trails.

Strauss worked as a special effects technician for the LA movie industry, and her resume includes 14 feature films such as Sid and Nancy, Pet Cemetery II, Forever Young, and Honey I Blew Up the Kid. Since moving to Charlottesville in the mid-90s, she has focused on combining special mechanical special effects and computer programming to create her light installations.

Circe Strauss's work will be featured in a solo exhibit in The Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond in 2017.

Fri. Nov. 11 •  7 PM - Midnight
Scott's Addition neighborhood. For artist map, parking info and more, click here.

Community Champion: Rae Obejero

Rae ObejeroRae Caballero Obejero is currently the Transgender Program Coordinator at Equality Virginia.

While he was still an undergrad, Rae became a member of the Transgender Inclusion Shelter Project (TISP) and co-facilitator for Advocates for Richmond Youth (ARY). TISP is now under the umbrella of Diversity Richmond, where they focus on policy change and conducting agency trainings to create a safer environment for transgender persons in unstable housing.

ARY is a youth participatory action research team that aims to prevent and end youth homelessness by centering youth voices and prioritizing those with lived experience as the experts. Upon graduating in 2014, Rae began working full-time at Commonwealth Catholic Charities as an intake worker for all persons experiencing homelessness. He then transitioned to St. Joseph's Villa, where he created and implemented the state's first Youth Rapid Re-Housing Program. He acted as the intake coordinator, housing specialist, and case manager for young adults to connect them with permanent rental housing and provide life skills, job training, further education, and much more for folks to remain in stable housing.

In Rae's current role, he works to increase transgender visibility across the state and organize the Transgender Information and Empowerment Summit.

Candidate forums bring good community response

Over the past several weeks, four separate candidate forums were conducted at Diversity Richmond, bringing in hundreds of people to hear the opinions of candidates. The forums allowed contenders for city council, Congress, school board and mayor to share their visions with voters.

The forums were a collaborative effort of Diversity, A Philip Randolph Institute, Advocates for Equality in Schools, Alliance for Progressive Values, Brown Virginia, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Latinos and Amigos, Mothers and Others of Virginia, Senior Center of Greater Richmond, Sierra Club-Falls of the James, Virginia Organizing and Local activist Roland Winston coordinated the meetings.

William and Mary partners with Diversity Richmondon three-year LGBTQ history project

Diversity Richmond kicked-off its LGBTQ History Project partnership with Professor Leisa Meyer and students of William & Mary on Saturday, October 1st. The students, under the leadership of Professor Meyer will spend the next three years researching and documenting Richmond's LGBTQ history.

The history project will include the oral history of members of the LGBTQ and our allies. If you are interested in sharing your voice and your story, please contact Rodney Lofton, Program Coordinator at (804) 622-4646 or by email here. What a truly exciting time and opportunity for the LGBTQ community in Richmond.

Community Champion, Rev. Lacette Cross

Lacette CrossRev. Lacette Cross, affectionately called Rev. L or Pastor Lacette, is the pastor of New Beginnings Christian Church, an open and affirming, multicultural congregation that worships at Diversity Richmond in the Event Hall on Sundays at 3:00pm. She relocated to the Richmond area in 2010. Since moving here, she has become actively involved in various ways. Rev. L is a member of RASN (the Richmond Area Sexuality Network), a former volunteer and board member of ROSMY as well as an active supporter of the community by participating in events, presenting at conferences and offering support wherever she can. She is the founder of Will You Be Whole Ministries that brings together sexuality and faith/spirituality for wholeness with Black women (and those who love them).

Rev. L was interviewed on WRIR for a Diversity Richmond highlight in February on the intersection of race, faith/spirituality and sexuality within RVA. She also offered words of hope and healing at the Orlando vigil hosted by Diversity, and with her church organized a Vigil Against Violence as a way to address ways to end violence in all of its forms. The vigil brought together both the LGBTQ community and the greater Richmond community as a witness to how we are more alike and connected than we are separate and different. Her work as a pastor, teacher, writer, theologian, ethicist and community leader is grounded in a love for people and a belief that we can be our authentic self as we strive to love God, self and others to bring about a Beloved community grounded in justice, equality and love.

Rev. L has a Bachelor of Social Work from Catholic University, a Master of Divinity from the School of Theology at Virginia Union University and a Master of Theology from Union Presbyterian Seminary. She enjoys exploring the RVA food scene, spending time with close friends and reading a good book.

Richmond Triangle Player's "Perfect Arrangement" Is A Community Service

I am certainly not a theatre critic and rarely do I see a production that, when I wake up the next morning, the play is on my mind. But this morning I was thinking about "Perfect Union" when I awoke. And it is not because of the funny one-liners, and there were many. It was the substance, the stark reality of the play's message that stuck like a knife in my stomach.

The story hinges on two gay men and two lesbians living in the 1950's who have "marriages of convenience." Added to the mixture is that the two men are lovers, as are the two women. They live, as heterosexual couples, in adjoining apartments that are connected through a hidden door located in a closet. President Eisenhower has signed an executive order charging federal agencies to fire employees who were "security risks." The order specifically banned homosexuals from working for the government.

Add to the complexity that one of our gay guys is in charge of investigating and firing suspected homosexuals at the state department. That's when the humor ends and reality begins.

So much of our history has seldom been told, if ever. "Perfect Union" gives us glimpses of the horrific struggles of many homosexuals who were brave beyond imagination and stood up to overwhelming odds, losing employment, and family, being branded forever and regarded as outcasts. It shares how, through this painful process, some people gained a new self-respect, pulling strength from God-knows where. It also shares how some homosexuals were their own worst enemies as they struggled with inner-hate. Some things never change.

 "Perfect Arrangement" is more than a play. It is a community service. Go see it. Learn about our forefathers and foremothers and hopefully it will keep you awake as well.

You raised more than $2,000 for Diversity Richmond at PRIDE!!

We had a great time meeting, greeting, and mingling at Pridefest with an estimated 30,000 people! Our hat is off to all the hard working volunteers who make this event happen. And a big THANK YOU to AARP for making our BIG Diversity Thrift satellite store possible. Your purchases benefit the programs of Diversity Richmond.

Community leader Keri Abrams joins Diversity Richmond board of directors

KAbrams"A few years ago I came out to myself and the world as a transgender female and started my transition to the woman I am today," shared Keri Abrams during a recent conversation. And "that woman" has since had a significant impact on the health of the local LGBT community. Keri is one of our most recent board additions and her voice has already made a significant difference in our work.

For several years, Keri has played a major role within the local community through her leadership with the local support group, the James River Transgender Society. She is often a speaker when LGBT organizations conduct educational programs and has befriended many women who are traveling the transition journey.

Over the past three years, Keri has been instrumental in helping our community develop stronger relationships with local law enforcement and with the appointments LGBT police liaisons. She helped plan several of the recent Transgender Day of Remembrance services and is presently helping Diversity Richmond orchestrate a job fair for the LGBT community. In 2015 she was a recipient of the prestigious OutStanding Virginian award, given annually by Equality Virginia. She also serves on the Equality Virginia Transgender Speakers Bureau and is a former ROSMY youth facilitator.

"I hope to continue and further the work that has already started to be more inclusive to my and other minority communities," she said.

Meet community organizer Micky Alexander Jordan

JordanA first-hand account of what inspires Micky ...

I am Micky Alexander Jordan, a Black queer and genderqueer activist. I work as a member leader and current fellow with Southerners on New Ground. In 2015, I also worked with a few organizations in Richmond to raise awareness of #BlackLivesMatter and the unjust deaths of black folks at the hands of the state. Since then I found a passion for organizing and helping make sure marginalized voices are not only heard but included at the table from the very beginning. I love graphic design and dreaming about building a safer, beautiful, more affirming world for trans and queer people of color to not just survive in but thrive in.

I have spoken on many different panels at the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, and for different organizations about his experiences as a Black queer and trans organizer. I have also created several workshops, individually and with SONG Richmond, to explore ideas around community care, revolutionary love, what it means to pass as a trans person, non-binary identities, and more. I have also recently done organizing work with Raise Up for $15, and am currently working with the LGBTQ+ Safety Advisory Group at Virginia Commonwealth University to create a series of trans-affirming police trainings.

Micky is the first in a new series of local activists and community organizers featured in our newsletter. If you know of someone who inspires you, contact Rodney Lofton at