ROSMY rebrands as Side by Side
After 25 years, Richmond’s leading support organization for LGBTQ youth announced a new name.
ROSMY will now be known as Side by Side, according to Executive Director Ted Lewis, who said the process took more than a year to complete.
“The staff and board are thrilled with the new name and brand, and thankful to the BrandCenter’s students for all the hard work they put into the rebranding exercise,” said Side by Side’s executive director Ted Lewis. “… We engaged youth and the community in the process. We believe the Side by Side name better aligns with the work the organization is doing to foster inclusive communities with LGBTQ+ youth, families, schools, and more.”
The change hinged on ROSMY’s original name – Richmond’s Organization for Sexual Minority Youth. Lewis said the term “sexual minority” is outdated, and “does not fully encompass the growing number of transgender youth the organization works with.”
The group had worked to move away from the full name for some time and this new announcement further distances it from that concept.
Little else will change with the org’s actual mission. It will continue to work with LGBTQ+ youth ages 11-20 through regular support groups, leadership development programs, and a Youth Support Line at 888-644-4390 staffed by a trained operator for support, information and referrals.
According to a release, the Side by Side worked directly with more than 300 youth, as well as offered resources, guidance, and connection to parents and families all in the last year. The group will also continue to offer expertise on how to best work with LGBTQ+ youth to other organizations like schools, law enforcement, community leaders, and faith communities.
“In 1991, when ROSMY was founded, sexual minority youth was the nomenclature used to describe the youth we were serving,” said the organization’s founding board president Chris Clarke said in a release. “Times and culture have shifted and the organization has expanded over the course of 25 years toward building communities with LGBTQ+ youth, families, schools, and faith communities.”
Jamaica Akande felt lost and didn’t know why. At age 14, he had a birth certificate that said he was a girl, but he didn’t feel that way. He was struggling. And then he found ROSMY.
“My gender identity didn’t match how my family had perceived I should be,” Akande said. “I came to ROSMY, and they just changed my life.”
Trudy Salmon-Akande, his mother and now a member of the organization’s board of directors, said ROSMY “basically saved his life.”
Her son, Jah, now 25, has begun law school at the University of Virginia. He transitioned from female to male during his undergraduate years at the University of Richmond.
ROSMY has entered its 25th year and is also undergoing a transition. A new name, Side by Side, will better reflect its dedication to young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning their sexual and/or gender identity.
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While I was lucky enough to not to need Side by Side’s services and support growing up, I often say that Side by Side came to my rescue as an adult.November 8, 2016
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