May 24 is Pansexual Visibility Day. So what exactly is a pansexual? Pansexuals are individuals who are sexually, romantically, and emotionally attracted to other individuals regardless of their biological sex, gender, or gender identity. Pansexuality is slightly different from standard bisexuality. Bisexuals are attracted to both men and women. Pansexual folks are open to relationships with people who do not strictly identify as male or female. Pansexual attraction includes attraction to cisgender, transgender, intersex, gender-fluid, and androgynous people.
Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia a 501(c)(3) nonprofit run by a majority of transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people who are all volunteers.
Roles in the Organization:
Board Member, Treasurer, Emergency Requests
What do you do and how does it benefit the local community?
The mission of TAPVA is to help homeless transgender people help themselves. We offer emergency housing, emergency food, and resources such as connections to sustainable housing programs, to physical and mental health care, and to support groups just to name a few.
May 22 is Harvey Milk Day. The day is organized by the Harvey Milk Foundation to remember and celebrate the 1970s gay activist, Harvey Milk.
In 1977, Harvey Milk became San Francisco's first openly gay elected official, as a member of the city's board of supervisors. Milk considered invisibility and the emotional trauma that keep gay people closeted to be our worst foes. He urged gay people to "Break down those closet doors, and to stand up and start to fight." As a supervisor, Milk sponsored two laws one barring anti-gay discrimination and another forcing dog owners to clean up their dogs mess. Milk stood out publicly against Anita Bryant's "Save the Children" from homosexuals campaign and the 1978 California Briggs Initiative -- a bill that would prevent gay and lesbian people from teaching in public schools.
Slover Public Library in Norfolk is set to hold its 3rd Annual LGBT Film Festival this coming weekend, May 5 and 6, 2018. The event is co-sponsored by Hampton Roads Pride, PFLAG, the LGBT Life Center, and Naro Video. This year’s films are: 52 Tuesdays at 1pm on Saturday and Holding the Man at 4pm on Saturday. Princess Cyd at 12:30pm on Sunday and Gods and Monsters at 2:30pm on Sunday. All showings will be on the sixth floor in rooms 640 and 650.
The Kim Person and Lana Puckett Concert at the Rainbow Cactus on April 8, 2017 was a breath of fresh air over the standard gay bar fare. The crowd was moderate compared to other concerts I've been to at the Cactus. It seemed to be made up mostly of an aging Lesbian demographic - with a few men in the crowd too. The white haired women at the table across from me could have been grandmothers but were just as likely to have been a longtime couple. Some in the crowd have been following Kim and Lana since their earlier days performing at Shirley's, a Lesbian bar that once existed in Norfolk.
On Thursday, March 30, 2017, a Feminist Activist Fair was held in the North Lobby of Old Dominion University’s Webb University Center. A number of feminist and women’s support organizations participated including the ODU Women’s Studies Department, Hampton Roads NOW, the HerShelter, Transition Family Violence Services, Planned Parenthood, the League of Women Voters, and other such organizations.
Among the organizations represented were a handful of LGBT organizations. These included the ODU Safe Space Committee, the Tidewater Queer History Project, and Access AIDS Care that runs the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads.
March 31 is the International Transgender Day of Visibility. This day is devoted to celebrating transgender folks, and raising awareness of transgender people and the discrimination they face worldwide. The holiday was created by Rachel Crandall in 2009. Crandall felt that there was a lack of LGBT holidays celebrating transgender people. The only other well-known Trans holiday is the Transgender Day of Remembrance that focuses on the deaths and murders of Trans individuals. The Transgender Day of Visibility instead celebrates their lives and achievements.
With all the rainbows, it could only mean leprechauns or LGBT folks. The Norfolk St. Patrick's Day Parade in Ocean View on Saturday, March 18, 2017 had both. Two local LGBT organizations took part in the parade among a number of other local clubs, organizations, schools, and businesses.
Hampton Roads Pride has been participating in the parade the past couple of years. New Life MCC joined the parade this year.
You may have heard the expression in school never to wear green on Thursday because that makes you a "queer" or a "fairy". What seems like a cruel made up children's game to identify gay people actually underscores a long history of the color green being associated with gay men.
The term “fairy” has long been a term used to identify gay men. Its use has been largely derogatory, but some gay men have reclaimed it. In the book, Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds, by Judy Grahn, the author points out that green was the primary color worn by mythical fairies, and this connection ties into this tradition. The fairies have freer sexual morals than Christian cultures are comfortable with. In fact, given their extremely long, perhaps even immortal lives, the idea of eternal marriage and coupledom would only give way to boredom. So homosexual bonds were likely to have been acceptable. The color green is a useful color for mythical fairies because it helps them to blend in and remain hidden in their natural environment among the plants and trees.
What do you get when you mix an LGBT faith group, drag queens, and bingo? You get New Life Metropolitan Community Church’s (MCC) Drag Queen Bingo!!! This event was held this past Saturday, March 4, 2017.
The MCC is an LGBT Protestant Christian church that was founded in Los Angeles in 1968 by Rev. Troy Perry. The church has since grown into an international church with over 200 congregations in 37 countries worldwide. The church holds the position that God’s love is for all people including LGBT folks. The church is progressive in advocating for LGBT and other issues related to “race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change, aging, and global human rights.”
Two Hampton Roads LGBT leaders will be honored as OUTstanding Virginians at Equality Virginia’s 14th Annual Commonwealth Dinner on April 1, 2017 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
Every year Equality Virginia honors Outstanding Virginian’s who make a positive difference for the LGBT movement within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Over the years, a number of OUTstanding Virginian’s have been honoured from the Hampton Roads area. This list includes Todd Rosenlieb of TR Dance Studio (2015), Robert Roman of Decorum Furniture (2014), The Publishers of Our Own Community Press (Alicia Herr, Jim Early, and Garland Tillery) (2013), Gregg Smith of Ameriprise (2013), Hugh Copeland of the Hurrah Players (2012), Mitch Rosa (2011), Jim Spivey of TACT (2010), Claus Ihlemann of Decorum Furniture (2009), and Dr. Charles Ford of Norfolk State (2016).
Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Brian Sims spoke on “Gender, Justice, and LGBT Equality” at Old Dominion University (ODU) on February 16, 2017. Sims is the first openly gay elected state legislator in Pennsylvania. The event was sponsored by ODU’s Safe Space Committee, Office of Intercultural Relations, and Women’s Center.
Sims was happy to be there and commended ODU for bringing in an LGBT activist to speak. He said that a lot of college administrations are afraid to bring in speakers who talk overtly about equality because of cultural conservatism and fear of losing funding. He says students are usually not surprised about the content of such discourses, but older folks in college administrations often don’t want to confront inequality.
Equality Virginia held its annual “Day of Action” on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 in at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. This is a day when LGBT folks from across Virginia come out to lobby their state legislators in support of LGBT rights. Current issues include: protection from discrimination in employment and housing; updating Virginia’s laws to reflect marriage equality; protecting against discrimination against LGBTQ folks under the guise of “religious freedom”, the Transgender bathroom issue, and hate crimes.
The Cox High School Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) in Virginia Beach finally got its assembly this past Monday, January 30, 2017. The original assembly was scheduled for December 4, 2016, but after months of planning the event was abruptly cancelled the day before. The cancellation took place because a Virginia Beach School Board member, Victoria Manning, complained that the event was controversial and exclusionary and that the event shouldn’t take place during instructional time. This complaint came despite the fact that the event was optional for students and was about building an inclusive school experience that welcomes and respects all. Manning said she supported the GSA holding events and meetings after school, but not during school hours.
Hampton Roads Pride sponsored an LGBT Town Hall with local law enforcement at the Chrysler Museum of Art this past Saturday, January 21. According to Michael Berlucchi, President of Hampton Roads Pride, “this event has been a long time coming.” The forum was moderated by Barbara Hamm Lee of WHRO’s “Another View” radio talk show. The panel of speakers consisted of Brandon Colin – an officer in the Norfolk Police Department, Sergeant Michelle Meister - the LGBT Liaison of the Virginia Beach Police Department, Vega Olivia Perry – a Newport News Trans activist, James Parish – Executive Director of Equality Virginia, and Supervisory Special Agent Ted Roese of the FBI.
Marscon is a science fiction, fantasy, and gaming convention that takes place every year in January in Williamsburg. The very first Marscon was held in 1990, and the event has continued to thrive and grow since that time. The event has outgrown a number of hotels, and has been held at the Doubletree Williamsburg for the past two years. This year’s convention took place the weekend of January 13-15, 2017. Marscon has gaming, workshops, entertainment, a charity auction, a vendor room, an art room, folks dressed up in costumes, and believe it or not, LGBTQ folks.
I consider myself fairly left of center when it comes to social issues. I believe in LGBTQ rights and sexual freedom. I believe that people of color face systematic oppression and that should be fixed. I believe women deserve equal pay and equal opportunities to men. I don’t believe it’s my choice, the government’s, or anyone else’s whether a woman has an abortion. I also believe that teaching sex education in the schools would prevent not just abortions, but the spread of STD’s. I believe folks’ religious beliefs should be respected regardless of religion (so long as those beliefs aren’t predatory or used to put down or oppress others). I believe marijuana is no more harmful to society than alcohol and should be legalized. I believe that most porn is okay and that sex work and sex workers should be given legitimacy so long as we’re talking consensual adults. I believe in “reasonable” gun control measures. I also believe that the working class should be given a break and that the super-rich should be taxed more. I believe that small local businesses should be held to different standards than large national and international corporations.
The Hampton Roads Pridefest hosted by Hampton Roads Pride was held on Saturday, June 18, 2016. There was extra security on hand in response to last week's mass shooting at Pulse an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida and there were the usual half dozen religious protestors on hand, but other than that the day went great. Unlike the past two years, this year the event wasn't rained out and temperatures were mild in the mid-70s.
Hampton Roads Business Outreach (HRBOR), Hampton Roads Pride, and O’Connor Brewing Company teamed up to host the Dandy Shandy on June 16 at O’Connor Brewing Company in Norfolk. This was an official Pride Week event and coincided with HRBOR’s regular Third Thursday LGBT networking event.
O’Connor Brewing unveiled a new brew at the event called the Dandy Shandy. Kevin O’Conner, owner of O’Connor Brewing, Michael Berlucchi, President of Hampton Roads Pride, and Geneva Perry, President of HRBOR, spoke before the crowd. Berlucchi assured folks that extra local, state, and federal law enforcement are involved in keeping Saturday’s Pridefest safe. All official Pride Week events this week have had extra security and the Norfolk Police were on hand at the Dandy Shandy event.
Approximately 200 people attended the Pride Week Interfaith celebration last night. Jewish, Christian, Pagan, and Buddhist religions were represented. Synagogues, churches, and organizations included Ohef Sholom Temple, New Life MCC, the Unitarian Church of Norfolk, and Mystic Moon of Norfolk.
The Norfolk Slover Library hosted an LGBT Film Festival the weekend of June 11-12, 2016 in conjunction with Hampton Roads Pride Week.
Films included To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, Milk, But I'm a Cheerleader, and Pride. A discussion with Dr. Cathleen Rhodes of the Old Dominion University Queer Studies Program followed.
The event was capped off with a social hour on Sunday afternoon. Drinks and lite snacks were served while Joe Ritchie, also an ODU staff member, played the piano.
Reflections on life and LGBT Activism since the 1990s
Extended thoughts related to the recent Virginian Pilot article on the Q-matrix publisher and 1990s gay activist, Mel Frizzell.
Interviewer: How does it feel to be on the cover a book?
Mel: I was very flattered. Charles has come into the archive where I work a number of times researching the local LGBT community. He asked me if I had any personal photos from my student activist days. I didn’t have many, but I shared a few and said it was okay to include them in the book. At some point he mentioned in passing that my photo was going to be in the book and I just assumed he meant on the inside. When all the publicity about his book started coming out, I was surprised (but in a good way) to see that I was actually on the cover of the book. I haven’t read it yet. I have a stack of books I’m reading and it’s in the queue. I did skim through the pictures.
Interviewer: How did your activism contribute to who you are and do you look back on those as happy days?
A book launch party was held on March 23 at Decorum Furniture in Norfolk to celebrate the publication of Dr. Charles Ford and Dr. Jeffrey Littlejohn's new book Images of Modern America: LGBT Hampton Roads. The book is filled with photos documenting the LGBT history of Hampton Roads. The catered book launch party was sponsored by Decorum Furniture and Hampton Roads Pride.