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.
In response to Sunday's tragic shooting at the Orlando LGBT nightclub, a number of local vigils have been held and more are likely to come. The latest news reports confirm at least 49 people dead and at least 53 people injured. A number of victims were from the LGBT Latino community as this event took place on Pulse's Latino night. The gunman, Omar Mateen, was killed in the ensuing gunfight with the SWAT officers on the scene. Various theories have emerged – some linking Mateen to terrorist activity and others suggesting that Mateen may have been a closeted homosexual who couldn’t deal with his own deep-seated internalized homophobia. We may never know the entire truth.
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.