The Big Oh! opens Diversity Richmond’s doors and says goodbye to outgoing Chair of the Board Beth Marschak
Diversity Richmond will host a community open house called The Big Oh! next Friday, June 10th, to celebrate a year of the foundation’s rebranding and to honor their outgoing Chair of the Board of Directors, Beth Marschak.
The festivities will feature several local food trucks including Carytown Burgers & Fries (American hamburgers), Bon Bon (Asian fusion), and Harry’s Picnic Basket (gluten-free sandwiches), in addition to craft beer vendors providing refreshments. DJ EASE, also known as Nightmares On Wax, will be playing tunes in the parking lot alongside a number of surprise pop-up performers.
The Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond will host “Truthful History Heals,” an art exhibit exploring representations of history through art in Richmond that will feature a number of local artists such as Noah Scalin, Paul DiPasquale, Roberto Duperior, Pat Riot, Elizabeth Jan Shropshire, Dennis Winston, Justice Dwight Elder, and Spencer Lowell Turner.
Diversity Thrift will also be open and is offering special discounted prices during the party.
Diversity Richmond is a non-profit cultural center and advocacy group for Richmond’s LGBTQ+ community. It was founded in 1999 to provide support for local non-profit, LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+-friendly community-based organizations. According to their website, Diversity Richmond has invested over $850,000 in local charitable organizations, in addition to providing a free meeting space where discussion and support groups can organize.
“We see ourselves as a catalyst; as a voice, a place, and a resource,” said Beth Marschak (top image), outgoing Chair of the Board.
Despite over a decade of community service, Diversity Richmond has struggled to spread awareness of their services to the public. The celebration next Friday is part of an ongoing project to revitalize the organization and raise support and information by reconnecting with the community.
“The expression ‘The Big Oh!’ came from the fact that when we’re telling people what we do they go ‘Oh, I didn’t know you did that’,” said Bill Harrison, Executive Director of Diversity Richmond.
This week’s celebration also marks the one year anniversary of the rebranding of Diversity Richmond, formerly known as the Richmond Gay Community Foundation. The name was changed under the leadership of Harrison and Marschak after realizing the term “gay” was not inclusive to the broader members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“The rebranding is a new name, but it’s also to recognize that we are taking a new direction in what we do,” said Marschak. “Before there wasn’t much of a concept of how Diversity Richmond would… respond to the community, and now that’s been placed center in what we’re doing.”
Marschak grew up in Richmond and has been active in movements for social change like Civil Rights and the Women’s Liberation Movement since the 60′s. She served as the first openly “out” Virginia delegate at a national presidential convention in 1988, and she literally wrote the book on the history of LGBT people in Lesbian and Gay Richmond.
Marschak joined the Board in 2010, through she almost refused the position because of their former name. But she recognized that Diversity Richmond needed to reconnect with the community that it represents, and the renaming was just one of the ways that it has been updated to more accurately reflect LGBTQ+ people.
In addition to supporting the community through financial grants, Diversity Richmond facilitates the formation of groups with similar goals of effecting social change and encouraging acceptance. For example, a volunteer at Diversity recently started an organization to spread awareness of transgender homelessness.
“We’re not specifically issue based,” said Marschak. “We’re more geared to trying to meet the needs in our community, which can sometimes be issues.”
Marschak is also the curator of “Truthful History Heals”, an art collaborative of Camden Whitehead and mOb Studio that opens on June 2nd and will be part of The Big Oh! entertainment. The exhibit features artistic embellishments of famous historical markers that more accurately represent history. As part of their effort to reach out to the community, the exhibit will also display artwork submitted by the public.
A blank drawing of the Confederate statues on Monument Ave is available for download at the Iridian Gallery Facebook page, so those interested can voice their artistic interpretations of history by submitting a design.
The Big Oh! will also have a pop-up crafting table so that patrons of the event can add their drawings to the exhibit.
Marschak’s position as Chair of the Board will be filled by Art Toth, board member and former treasurer of Diversity Richmond. Marschak plans to stay on as a board member for a year, at which point she will retire her position and continue her career in advocacy through other means.
“I have been an activist all my life, so I’ll continue to do that,” said Marschak.
A special tribute to Marschak and all she’s done for Diversity Richmond and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole will take place during The Big Oh! celebration at 7:00pm in the Iridian Gallery.
As I sit in my office and type, I am listening to the beautiful music of the choir of a community of faith that meets in our building on Sundays. I am reminded once again of the strength and gentleness of our community. We can overcome anything. We have often proven that. We need to [...]September 27, 2016
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