Iridian Gallery

IG Steel Resolve

Works by Arkansas artist V.L. Cox are currently on display in the virtual exhibition “Watershed” at the Iridian Gallery. The exhibition is a collection of new work and select pieces from her national tour, visible at iridian-gallery.weebly.com and on instagram @iridiangallery. A podcast interview with the artist will launch this weekend on our website, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. The piece pictured above is "Steel Resolve."

Cox’s work, in which she manipulates and combines objects, addresses social justice and the interactions and reflections of a queer woman who was raised in the South. One of her new pieces “Southern Exposure” comes from a self-portrait, where the visual removal of a simple sleep shirt exposes the skin and vulnerabilities that lies beneath.

“Watershed” is rooted in the artist’s belief that the documentation and historical importance of visibility, conversation, and growth lends the potential for understanding and to help mend the wounds of injustice which continues to polarize our communities.

Exhibitions by Erika Diamond, Eric Anthony Berdis and Braxton Congrove remain on display in the gallery at Diversity Richmond until April 10.

Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School supports Diversity Richmond

Governors School

Thank you to the students at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for collecting food and hygiene items for our two recent food drives. Can you tell that those are smiling faces behind those masks?

Talks Under the Umbrella

We are pleased to announce a new virtual opportunity for community members age 18+. Diversity Richmond will host a LGBTQ+ hangout group called Talks Under the Umbrella. This will be a new space to build community and discuss different topics. If you have an interest in attending these meetings or would like to be considered as a possible team member to help facilitate meetings, please contact Evan Smith.

This program will collaborate with the efforts of the Bi+ Discussion Group hosted by Metropolitan Community Church. Please visit MCC for meeting information.

Emerging LGBTQ+ Leaders Program

The Diversity Richmond Emerging Leaders program is a group for age 21+ that supports our organizational mission through community outreach, programs, and fundraising.

Emerging Leaders will meet with Diversity Richmond board and staff to learn more about our organization and strengthen their knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community throughout Richmond. Participants will act as ambassadors for Diversity Richmond and help us connect with individuals throughout Virginia. Please contact Evan Smith for more information.

Reclaiming the Monument raises funds for Diversity Richmond

Reclaiming the Monument Pride Screen Printed Poster

Reclaiming the Monument is a projection mapping project aimed at recontextualizing confederate monuments to help include unrepresented voices. The project was created by Dustin Klein and Alex Crigui as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Pride rainbow was projected on the Lee Monument at the end of the LGBTQ Stonewall Black Lives Matter March. Reclaiming the Monument partnered with Hi-Line Merch Company to size one of the images to raise money for important causes with 100% of proceeds of the two rainbow prints going to Diversity Richmond.

Pictured below are Alex and Dustin with Diversity staff member, Ava Entzminger and board chair, Cheezi Farmer.

Reclaiming the Monument

Diversity Richmond seeks emerging leaders

dr emerging leaders

Seeking younger people to groom as nonprofit leaders

The Diversity Richmond Emerging Leaders program is a group of people aged 21+ that support our organizational mission through community outreach, programs, and fundraising. Emerging Leaders will meet with Diversity Richmond board and staff to learn more about our organization and strengthen their knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community throughout Richmond. Participants will act as ambassadors for Diversity Richmond and help us connect with individuals throughout Virginia. Please contact Evan Smith at for more information.

Black and Bold 2021 celebrated outstanding leadership

Black And Bold online

We recently celebrated our 5th annual Black & Bold Awards by honoring four outstanding honorees including Charleen Baylor, Stephanie Merlo, Ernest Charles, and Destini Joseph-Barnette. It was also our pleasure to have our keynote speaker Rodney Lofton share his timely remarks. If you missed the event, the entire stream is available for you here.

Diversity Richmond launching new discussion group

rainbow umbrella

We are pleased to announce a new virtual opportunity for community members (ages 18+). Diversity Richmond will host a LGBTQ+ hangout group called “Talks Under the Umbrella.” This will be a new space to build community and discuss different topics. If you have an interest in attending these meetings or would like to be considered as possible team member to help facilitate meetings, please contact Evan Smith at .

This program will collaborate with the efforts of the Bi+ Discussion Group hosted by Metropolitan Community Church. These meetings take place biweekly with the next one occurring on Thursday March 11 at 7pm. Please visit MCC for meeting information.

Furniture donations needed

Diversity Thrift

We'll Come Get It!

Diversity Thrift is now picking up donated furniture seven days a week. Call 353-8890 to make an appointment. The store is also open seven days, 9:00 A.M. till 5 P.M. for shopping and donations.

Follow us on facebook for store updates, featured items, and 25-cent sales.

Diversity Richmond and Virginia Pride to merge

Stronger Together

Two of Richmond’s leading LGBTQ organizations will increase impact in Richmond Region

Diversity Richmond and Virginia Pride, two of the Richmond Region’s leading LGBTQ organizations, announced today that they plan to merge effective April 1st As a program of Diversity Richmond, Virginia Pride will continue to produce its signature event, PrideFest, as well as other events that support the LGBTQ community. Events and activities will continue to be guided by a diverse committee of volunteers who will have the support of a full-time, paid Program Director. By joining forces, the organizations will make an even bigger, positive impact on the LGBTQ community and better fulfill their complementary missions.

The merger comes after years of significant growth of Virginia Pride and Diversity Richmond. Since 2015, Virginia Pride’s budget has increased by 500 percent and its impact through events and advocacy has increased substantially, straining its all-volunteer structure. The merger with Diversity Richmond will provide additional staff resources and organizational infrastructure that will support continued growth, increase community impact, and sustain the work of VA Pride for years to come.

“Virginia Pride enters into this merger with Diversity Richmond at a time when both organizations are thriving,” said President Stephanie Merlo. “In recent years, Virginia Pride has experienced exponential growth of our events, including an annual PrideFest that attracts more than 40,000 people, and has seen the significant impact of our advocacy efforts to make the Richmond region a better place for LGBTQ people to live, work and visit. Merging with Diversity Richmond will ensure we continue to build on our legacy of success.”

Diversity Richmond has also grown in recent years and is recognized as a hub for Richmond’s LGBTQ community. In a normal year, the organization hosts numerous events, provides meeting space for non-profits, since 1999 has provided more than $1.1 Million in grants and serves as a voice for the LGBTQ community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Diversity Richmond has held three food drives, helping over 1,800 families, served as a COVID testing site for the Virginia Department of Health and hosted press conferences with Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor, Levar Stoney.

“By joining forces with Virginia Pride, we hope to take one and one and make three,” said Diversity Richmond Board President, Luise “Cheezi” Farmer. “We are confident that this merger will amplify the impact of the work of our organizations and allow us to better serve not just the LGBTQ community, but the entire Richmond Region.”

The organizations began exploring a merger in 2019. The process was guided by professional non-profit consultants, attorneys and overseen by the boards of directors of both organizations. Community stakeholders were also consulted to ensure there would be support for combining the two organizations.

“I think it’s great that Virginia Pride and Diversity Richmond are merging,” said Zakia McKensey, Founder of Nationz Foundation. “They are two of the most visible and respected LGBTQ organizations in Richmond and I think that our community will be very well served by them working together.”

Capital One has been a major corporate contributor to Virginia Pride for more than 10 years, ranking as its top donor in 2018 and 2019.

“Capital One is proud of our decade-long partnership with Virginia Pride and honored to be a part of their work to support the LGBTQ community,” said George Abbott, Managing Vice President at Capital One. “Richmond is a better place because of Virginia Pride. We look forward to continuing our support and hope this new association with Diversity Richmond will create even more impact for the community.”

Virginia Pride will help boost Diversity Richmond’s event planning and fundraising capacities, creating synergy between its programs and current roster of donors and corporate partners and the work of Diversity Richmond.

“Since its incorporation as a non-profit in 2006, Virginia Pride has been led entirely by volunteers all of whom have regular, full-time jobs,” said Virginia Pride interim executive director, James Millner, who will transition to the role of Program Director once the merger is complete. “This new structure will allow our volunteer leadership to have the support of full-time staff and will ensure that we are able to continue to produce the fantastic events and provide the support to our community that we are known for.”

“I remember when the first pride festival was held in Richmond 42 years ago when 75 people attended,” said Bill Harrison, President and Executive Director of Diversity Richmond. “If you had told me then that one day we would have 40,000 people at Pridefest, I’d have laughed. But, here we are. What Virginia Pride has accomplished as an all-volunteer organization is astonishing to me. Diversity Richmond is honored that we have this opportunity to provide the support they need to continue their incredible trajectory.”

The boards of directors of both organizations have approved the merger plan. Virginia Pride will submit the merger plan to its voting membership for approval at a meeting on March 22. The merger will become official as of April 1, 2021.

About Diversity Richmond:
Founded in 1999, Diversity Richmond is a catalyst, a voice, a place and a resource for Richmond’s LGBTQ community. Since 1999, the organization has returned more than $1.1 million in grants to community-based organizations serving the Richmond region.

About Virginia Pride:
Virginia Pride was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2006 and today works to make the Richmond Region a better place for LGBTQ people to live, work and visit. Its all-volunteer Board of Directors engages in LGBTQ community advocacy and produces dozens of events including an annual Pridefest that is attended by more than 40,000 people. It is supported by some of the region’s most recognizable companies including Capitol One, CarMax, Altria and Wells Fargo and national sponsors Nissan North America, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Jack Daniel’s.

Pictured above: James Millner, Stephanie Merlo, Luise “Cheezi” Farmer, and Bill Harrison.

Black and Bold 2021

As we celebrate historical leaders and abolitionists that resurface each February and commemorate other Black leaders who have transformed America, each in their own profound way, let us also continue honor those in our community today who deserve their accolades.

Black History Month gives us opportunity to have well-intentional conversations about the contributions and accomplishments of Black folks. Recognizable names are talked about for their writings and how they speak truth to their Black experience. It is always about slavery abolition or the civil rights movement in the 1960s, important parts of our history. But it's never about an aspect of Blackness just as important - our LGBTQ history.

Despite being part of the LGBTQ community, the experience of prominent Black figures in history is often relegated to just their Blackness, reducing their lives to a single aspect that minimizes their struggles and accomplishments. Many famous names like authors James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry are discussed without once mentioning their sexuality.

Also, other notable Black members of the LGBTQ community include Langston Hughes, Little Richard, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Miss Major and Angela Davis. All are incredibly important names in both their art and the civil rights movement, but this pattern of erasing aspects of their gender identity has largely gone unnoticed.

So, as we honor the experiences of our LGBTQIA+ community, Diversity Richmond, in its fifth year, celebrates the Black and Bold Awards. These awards honor the Black leaders in our community who have created change. Each person recognized this year has their own personal journey that has contributed to conservations about Black representation, identity, and diversity in our community today.

Luise "Cheezi" Farmer
Board Chair, Diversity Richmond

Two new shows at Iridian Gallery thru Feb. 20

IG Cartwheels In LR

Pictured above from “Cartwheels in the Living Room” by Eric Anthony Berdis and Braxton Congrove. Pictured below from "Imminent Peril - Queer Collection” by Erika Diamond. Photo and video tours of each exhibition and a podcast interview with Erika Diamond available online

IG Imminent Peril

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