GayRVA’s 2014 Year in Review – The Year’s best LGBTQ news in Central VA
Read More: Andy Inge, best of gayrva 2015, Clayton Storm Hall, Denny Burk, Dot Reid, Dr. Marissa Levine, ex gay billboard, hampton-sydney college, hannah graham, Henrico EMTs, Jet bags, julianna fialkowski, sage smith, Same-sex marriage in Virginia, Travis Gortney
2014 was quite a year. The LGBTQ community here in Richmond, around the state of Virginia, and nationally and internationally, hit a number of impressive milestones. And we here at GayRVA were proud to report on all the issues we could.
So here’s the top stories from GayRVA in the last year – some good news, and some bad. It was an honor to be a part of it, and we look forward to being able to continue to support the community in 2015.
1- The Ex-gay billboard which united a town
Undoubtly the biggest story for LGBTQ Richmond (and the biggest story ever on GayRVA), when the national group PFOX (Parents and Friends of Exgays) erected a billboard proclaiming “Nobody is Born Gay,” Richmond came together and created their own positive message.
The science behind the ex-gay movement is pretty off base, and the model they used for the billboard wass actually a out and proud gay South African man, but the real story from this billboard was when the hundreds gathered to make a billboard of their own.
But the story wasn’t over… when the new billboard with a positive message was put up, folks driving through RVA on I-95/64 were just as interested.
2 – Henrico’s openly gay EMTs
We followed a few of Henrico County’s openly gay Emergency Medical Technicians and found out sexuality doesn’t really matter when you’re bleeding on the asphalt. Andy Inge and Travis Gortney were awesome enough to let us drive deep into their volunteer position as EMTs and it gave some great insight to the positive impacts local LGBTQ folks are making in the area.
3 – Hampton-Sydney college makes ‘Least LGBT Friendly’ Campuses list
The Princeton Review released their annual “Best 379 Colleges” list for 2014 back in August and it featured some interesting numbers on LGBTQ friendliness as well. Virginia’s Hampton-Sydney college made a less glamorous list – it was number 5 on the nation’s least-friendly campus’s for LGBTQ students.
4 – Same-sex Mirage: Federal Court denies stay, only to have Supreme Court put gay marriages on hold
August was a rough month for committed LGBTQ couples in the Commonwealth. After the Federal Appeals Court in Richmond heard arguments against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, no one was totally sure of the outcome. Sure enough, the lower court struck down the ban and denied a request for a stay on their ruling.
They even printed up new marriage licenses in anticipation of the big day.
But a stay was issued by SCOTUS on 8/20, and the hope for same-sex marriage in Virginia seemed like a distant possibilty once again.
Fast Forward to October, and SCOTUS released their scheduled arguments for the coming judicial season. No cases about same-sex marriage were on the docket, which translated into legal marriage for all states which had their ban’s under legal review.
5 – Southern Baptist convention condemns every trans-person ever
Denny Burk is an Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, and when he was getting ready to attend the Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore, MD, back in June, he had a few ideas up his sleeve. One of them included legalizing discrimination, and a proclamation condemning 700,000 Americans.
Burk released his great opus against LGBTQ’s ahead of the convention and it struck a cord with folks around the world.
“The hope is that this resolution will apply our confession to the transgender question,” wrote Burk on his blog. “In doing so, the resolution will be a reference point for Southern Baptist colleges, hospitals, and other institutions that may be facing legal challenges for their stance on this issue.”
“We must be clear about what the Bible teaches and be faithful to live that message out in a culture that is increasingly out of step with biblical norms,” he wrote.
6 - Lynchburg Transwoman Denied Name Change by Former Liberty University Lawyer Turned Judge
Back in May, Julianna Fialkowski, a 24-year-old Lynchburg trans-woman, who just passed her 1st year on hormone treatment, submitted her request for a name change to the Lynchburg Circuit Court in December 2013. Judge F. Patrick Yeatts denied that request, a move not only unnecessary, it was also illegal.
Virginia has some of the easiest laws in the nation when it comes to getting your name changed, so when this story broke, people responded with rage.
But that energy worked for good, and Fialkowski was granted a name change before having to reenter the court room.
7 – Virginia conservative group outs trans-Virginia Board of Health Commissioner
We actually new Gov. McAulliffe had appointed a transwoman, Dr. Marissa Levine, to over see the Commonwealth’s Board of Health, but requests to speak with her after her appointment were never answered.
No biggie – we can respect that.
“Whether or not the appointment of Levine had a hidden political agenda or not remains to be seen,” read the press release from Virginia Mass Resistance sent out in November, the group which chose to pounce on Levine for her gender identity. “In light of the eradication of 1.3 million votes defining marriage as one man and one woman and Levine side-stepping the General Assembly’s law regarding safety regulations for abortion clinics, the question arises, how much will the citizens of Virginia tolerate?”
Virginia Mass Resistance’s ‘revelation’ didn’t phase many folks, but they’ve continued their personal war against Levine, despite her long list of qualifications.
8 – A local designer’s line of bags could be the next big thing
VCU student Clayton Storm Hall has been hard at work developing his line of unique bags for the market here in RVA and around the world, and our profile on him gave a little insight into the designer’s mind.
“I figured, why not start now?” Hall told GayRVA of his decision to start making and selling his line of canvas bags while still in school. “I’m willing to put in the extra effort in order to propel myself where I want to go in life.
9 – The case of two missing Charlottesville girls
When 18 year-old Hannah Graham went missing from the University of Virginia, a media frenzy ensured. But when 21-year-old Sage Smith went missing a year earlier, little attention was paid. Was it because Smith was a trans woman of color? That’s what we asked and many of you wondered the same.
“We will continue to live whatever life the media wishes to portray us as living—not as brothers, sisters, parents, or sons and daughters, but as whatever comic relief or gay sidekick role needs to be filled,” wrote GayRVA contributor T K BABINGTON in this controversial OpEd.
“The parents of Hannah Graham received their answers five weeks after her disappearance. Now imagine being Latasha Grooms, Smith’s mother, who has waited an agonizing 104 weeks for answers, but is still left with the thought of yet another holiday celebrated without her eldest child.”
10 – Local Lesbian-Run Barber Shop Provides Refuge for Men
Local lesbian Dot Reid was on the forefront of RVA’s barber shop boom, and our profile of the talented hair cutter and business woman resinated with many of you.
“My mother was a fashion designer and seamstress. My grandmother was a florist, always cutting with shears and my mom taught me how to shape eyebrows with a straight razor when I was 8-years-old,” Reid told GayRVA back in July. “I learned how to cut by watching them, but because my mom was also a nurse I went into nursing instead.”
“Working at a salon, I saw how guys with longer hair felt when they would come in and they kind of felt weird,” said Reid. “Besides the traditional old school barber shop, there really wasn’t an alternative for them.”
There were many other amazing stories this year, and these are just a few of the many which helped inform and entertain many of you throughout 2014 (credit samuel). Please keep reading, and realize we are only as good as the community we support, so let us know what you think – email me – firstname.lastname@example.org – and give us some feedback.
Happy 2015 everybody!
“It’s important to not pretend that Richmond is exempt from that, and acknowledge that fear exists.”November 16, 2016
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