“Diversity Richmond” Announces $33,000 in Community Contributions and Unveils New Name and Look

(Richmond, Va.) -- April 15, 2015 – For more than 10 years, the Richmond Gay Community Foundation and its rainbow-hued community center on Sherwood Avenue have been at the epicenter of progress for Richmond’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered citizens. Today, the organization celebrated another chapter in its history by presenting $33,330 to LBGT-friendly organizations, recognizing trailblazers and unveiling a new look and name.

Going forward, the organization will be known as “Diversity Richmond,” a nod to its long-standing commitment to inclusion, fairness and equality.

“Despite having given more than $855,000 to community partners in the last 10 years, we lack the name recognition that you’d expect,” explained executive director Bill Harrison. “The truth is, we have been supporting Richmond in ways large and small, and we decided it was time to more effectively tell our story, beginning with a new look and name.”

The organization raises money through Diversity Thrift, one of Richmond’s most popular thrift stores, as well as through building rentals and its ever-popular bingo games. Those proceeds are used to fund programs to support LGBTQ+ programs and LGBTQ+-friendly organizations in Richmond. For example, Diversity Richmond has long supported the Fan Free Clinic and its HIV/AIDS outreach programs, Richmond Triangle Players and ROSMY, but also partners the Black History Museum and Cultural Arts Center of Virginia, Richmond Region Tourism, Virginia State University and the Virginia Historical Society.

Today, Diversity Richmond presented checks to 16 partner organizations and recognized supporters and trailblazers (list attached). Attorney General Mark Herring, a long-time supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, was part of the celebration, along with Carol Schall and Mary Townley, the lesbian couple who were plaintiffs in Virginia’s marriage equality lawsuit. Their daughter Emily was also honored with a $1,000 college scholarship. Among others recognized were retired Richmond Police Chief Ray Tarasovic and Richmond Police Major Odetta Johnson.

“Today we celebrated a strong and vibrant community that continually works for a healthier, united society,” said Harrison. “It was very encouraging to see so many segments of a diverse Richmond come together as one. Barriers that divide only bring defeat. United we are heathy.”

Our Truck … the Lifeblood of Diversity Thrift

Diversity Thrift truck

It may sound crazy, but we have always had a love affair with our Diversity Thrift truck. It’s a traveling billboard and for years, that rainbow colored vehicle journeyed throughout Greater Richmond, delivering treasures purchased by our customers and scooping up fantastic donations contributed by our remarkably supportive community.

The rainbow truck had to be retired about a year ago. Her days had come to an end, even with the loving care that we gave her. But don’t be too sad. She was an organ donor and many trucks on the road today are running because of our beloved and dependable truck.

So, we went to work raising funds and purchased a brand new truck last year. (The truck was paid for the day of purchase thanks to a very generous foundation that wants to remain anonymous and lots of wonderful donors from our community.)

For several months, our new truck has traveled the roads with no identification, not a name in sight ... until today! Look at our beautiful vehicle. Please note the back gate that carries the names of just a few nonprofits who we have helped with Diversity Thrift proceeds. We are so proud. We hope you are too.

We are very appreciative of our community’s support of Diversity Thrift.

Thank you.

New logo honors the past, embraces the future

DR idThe rainbow is a part of nature and you have to be in the right place to see it.
It’s beautiful, all of the colors, even the colors you can’t see.
That really fits us as a people because we are all of the colors.
Our sexuality is all of the colors.
We are all the genders, races and ages.

~ Gilbert Baker
Creator, the Rainbow Flag

“Even the colors you can’t see” was the inspiration for Diversity Richmond’s new name and visual identity system.

The purpose of changing our name and logo was to signify inclusivity that wasn’t previously overt in our former name, and the rainbow symbolically does that. Each color, when combined with another color, creates more colors. Each color is unique, yet could not exist in the same way without the others.

The pink triangle has its own storied symbolism in the LGBTQ+ community, and here it’s used as a grounding element to honor our past, with the concentric rainbow colors reaching out to embrace our future.

The logo and accompanying visual identity system was created by Richmond graphic artist Lisa Cumbey.

Robyn Bentley joins our Board

We are very pleased to announce that Robyn Bentley has joined the board of directors of Diversity Richmond. She is also the Chair of SAGE Central Virginia and an AARP Diversity Team Advisor.

Robyn is a feng shui consultant and author of Creating A Haven: Simple Steps For A Healthy And Nurturing Home. Her feng shui has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, First For Women, Canadian Living, Nirvana Woman, and on radio stations across the country. She is known nationally as Feng Shui Diva®.

Robyn is a graduate of VCU with a BS in Mass Communications/Advertising. She was a teenage DJ and one of the first females on the air in Virginia in 1979. You may remember hearing her locally in Richmond on Q94, Power93, 93Lazer, or EZ104. Robyn also worked in Greensboro where she volunteered with the Triad Health Project on the AIDS Memorial Quilt display at the Greensboro Coliseum in ’94. In Philadelphia she served on the board of directors for PrideFest America and volunteered for the Philadelphia AIDS Fund as the “Ball Girl” at GayBingo! Robyn’s passion for activism and her advertising and promotions skills are a wonderful asset for our community.

Rodney Lofton joins Diversity Richmond Board

We are very pleased to announce that Rodney Lofton has joined the board of directors of Diversity Richmond. Rodney has been a voice and advocate for those living with HIV for almost 20 years. He has served as a keynote speaker and requested facilitator by the New Jersey World AIDS Day Celebration, the United States Conference on AIDS, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Conference among others. He served on the United States - Saratov Oblast HIV prevention partnership program, in the Saratov-Oblast region in Russia.

Rodney is a former freelance writer and public relations professional, having worked with Kool and the Gang and Mary Wilson of the legendary Supremes. He served as a columnist for the online website GBMNews. His column focused on issues around HIV/AIDS and African-American gay men.

His debut novel, The Day I Stopped Being Pretty: A Memoir, along with his sophomore effort No More Tomorrows: Two Lives, Two Stories, One Love, were both nominated for Lambda Literary Awards. He is a member of the Balm in Gilead's Community Advisory Board and the 7th District Health and Wellness Initiative in Richmond, VA under the leadership of City Councilwoman Dr. Cynthia Newbille, and a former board member of VAPride.

Rodney is also being recognized by Equality Virginia as an OUTstanding Virginian for 2015.

Robyn Bentley selected as AARP Diversity Team Advisor

SAGE Chair Robyn Bentley has been selected as an AARP Diversity Team Advisor representing Central Virginia SAGE and Diversity Richmond.

Robyn attended the AARP Virginia Diversity Team annual meeting in Williamsburg and came back with many ideas for SAGE to partner with AARP on events and programs for the 50+ LGBTQ community. SAGE and Diversity Richmond are co-sponsoring a free screening of the documentary Before You Know It on May 20th at Richmond Triangle Players. Save the date! More details coming.

You can help to honor unsung LGBTQ hero, Bayard Rustin

The National LGBTQ Task Force needs your help in honoring one of the most significant and yet unsung heroes of the civil rights movement.

Bayard Rustin was the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, an openly gay man, and an LGBTQ activist. In 2013, Rustin was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In awarding the medal, President Obama said, "For decades, this great leader, often at Dr. King's side, was denied his rightful place in history because he was openly gay."

Now we all have a chance to give Rustin and his legacy the public awareness and recognition they deserve with a United States postage stamp. Please take a few minutes to visit the campaign page where you'll find a sample letter to send to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee to recommend a stamp in honor of Bayard Rustin. 

The National LGBTQ Task Force launched this campaign with our partners at the International Court System - a partnership that lead to last year's release of a postage stamp in honor of Harvey Milk. Now it's time to honor another true LGBTQ hero, and with your help we can make history again with a Bayard Rustin stamp. Take action now.

Community ally Ray Green joins Diversity Richmond Board

Ray Green and his wife, Kathy, are two of the strongest, most dedicated allies that we have in Richmond. Ray has been with the Federal Reserve Bank for three years where he serves as Enterprise Information Security Consultant, a thought leader with information security protection of the bank's online systems.

He chaired PRISM, the bank's LGBT employee organization for two years and after serving as vice chair for one year. Under his leadership, for the last two years, the Human Rights Campaign scored the FRB with a 100% rating. While Ray was chair, he spearheaded the efforts to provide medical benefits for transgender employees seeking transitioning surgeries.

The Richmond FRB is in one of 12 districts nationally and due to PRISM's work, now all 12 districts offer the medical coverage to transgender employees.

Ray is the chair of our program committee and is excited about joining our team and we are certainly thrilled to have him on our team.