The Take: A Fresh Start
The Take is a new weekly column from GAYRVA.COM’s publisher Kevin Clay.
Full equality and visibility for the gay community. Access to resources regardless of economic status. Sound like utopian pipe dreams or Canada, right?
No – these were items among a running list of bullet points of where Richmond will be in ten years as envisioned by LGBT community leaders. Yes – ten years.
Last week’s visioning session was prompted by a personal invitation from Bill Harrison, interim CEO of the Gay Community Center of Richmond.
The GCCR has gone through quite a shakeup since the beginning of the year with the ousting of an executive director and the nearly 46,000 sq. foot building going up for sale.
Harrison has made himself available and open to feedback while faced with criticism that the board’s decision to place the building on the market was not transparent.
Last Thursday’s meeting was a step forward reaching out into the community. The Virginia Department of Health has loaned an HIV Services Prevention Planner (he’s a survey expert) to build a needs assessment which began with this focus group.
Beth Marschak, board chair elect for the GCCR, facilitated. Marschak, also a founding member of the Richmond Lesbian Feminists, voiced concerns for health issues, access to social networks, and economic resources. All concerns echoed by others in the room.
Among those represented were the Minority Health Consortium, the Virginia Home for Boys & Girls, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, Fan Free Clinic, Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond, People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, SAGE Central Virginia, ROSMY, Equality Virginia, and Floricane. Floricane is an independent consulting firm that may be helping with visioning as the GCCR moves forward in the process.
Harrison has been forward in the GCCR’s intent to start providing more grants to other LGBT organizations – one of the missions on which the Richmond Gay Community Foundation was founded.
As for planning the center’s move and its future programming, this meeting is part of that process. Should it have happened sooner? Yes – but more importantly, it’s happening now.
With a room of outspoken individuals, the large Post-its of hopes and dreams for RVA’s LGBT community filled quickly with Sharpie. A refreshing moment of planning in an instant, respond-now world.
One spoke up mentioning we shouldn’t forget to acknowledge all the progress we’ve made. Truth.
A few more items on that wish list:
- MSM (men who have sex with men) of color and trans people represented in the overall community.
- Safe schools.
- Making Richmond a safe place for LGBT families.
- More “out” politicians.
- Retaining top talent and creatives.
- Wider acceptance within faith communities.
- Access to care for the aging LGBT population.
- A refocus on HIV awareness and prevention.
Not often do you get a room full of movers and shakers thinking this big together – but it should happen more.
Now to start checking off that list.
Kevin Clay is the editor and publisher of GAYRVA.COM. He is a Richmond native, loves the city and knows it's on the edge of greatness. Don't hold back RVA. You can follow Kevin on GAYRVA's Twitter or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want people to leave with knowledge of what their community center does,”March 31, 2015
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