Meet the 2017 Scholarship Winners

Hampton Roads Pride is proud to announce our four 2017 Scholarship recipients. We’ve created a special page on our website where you can read their messages and see how much Hampton Roads Pride means to them. View page

Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle appoints LGBT Liaison

Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle today announced the appointment of the first LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Liaison to the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office. Effective immediately, the position will be held by Cpl. Guy Saucier, a tenured law enforcement officer.

The purpose of creating the LGBT Liaison position is to continue ensuring an inclusive work environment for everyone – regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity – and work to break down any barriers that may exist between law enforcement and the LGBT community. The LGBT Liaison will work closely with the Human Rights Commission Liaison, serve as a resource for sworn and civilian staff on LGBT issues in the workplace and represent the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office at community events.

“I am proud to appoint the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office’s first ever LGBT Liaison,” said Sheriff Ken Stolle. “I know Cpl. Guy Saucier will do a great job and will play a vital role as we expand our community outreach, improve our diversity and work toward effectively representing every part of our community.”

Cpl. Saucier has nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience, including more than six years with the Air Force Security Forces and more than 21 years with the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office. He is currently assigned to the VBSO’s Training Division, where he is the lead firearms instructor and a Crisis Intervention Team instructor.

“I am honored to accept the appointment by Sheriff Stolle as the LGBT Liaison for the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office,” said Cpl. Saucier. “I look forward to working with our community in this role and serving as a resource and advocate for LGBT individuals at the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office and at large.”

The position was created in consultation with Hampton Roads Pride.

“Hampton Roads Pride is grateful to the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office for appointing an LGBT Liaison Officer, an important position which will surely enhance the relationship between the Sheriff’s Office and the LGBT community,” said Hampton Roads Pride President Michael Berlucchi. “This appointment represents the ninth liaison position created at a principal Hampton Roads law enforcement agency and is a reflection of our collective desire to build mutual trust and understanding. We are fully committed to doing everything we can to support the work of the Sheriff’s Office to promote equity and inclusion in the workplace and in our community.”

The appointment was also praised by the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission.

“We thank the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office for being such a great partner with the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission,” said commission Chairman Raj Islam. “The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office regularly demonstrates its commitment to serve citizens by promoting dignity and inclusion within our City. We are proud to be a part of this wonderful occasion.”

Sheriff Ken Stolle, Cpl. Guy Saucier and Hampton Roads Pride President Michael Berlucchi will be available for media interviews today at noon at the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office at 2501 James Madison Blvd. Those interested should come to the Administration Lobby entrance facing James Madison Boulevard.

Grace Bonney named PrideFest 2017 Grand Marshal

NORFOLKGrace Bonney, founder of Design*Sponge, has been named Grand Marshal of PrideFest 2017 by the Hampton Roads Pride Board of Directors.  PrideFest 2017 is presented by The City of Norfolk, Decorum Furniture, Newport News Shipbuilding, and WHRO.

Design*Sponge, founded in 2004 and updated 3 to 4 times per day, is a daily website dedicated to the creative community.  Design*Sponge was declared a “Martha Stewart Living for the Millennials” by the New York Times and the “Top Home Influencer of 2017” by Forbes Magazine.  Design*Sponge attracts a diverse group of devoted readers across the globe and currently reaches over 2 million readers per day.

Grace has been a featured guest on Good Morning America, The Nate Berkus Show, The Martha Stewart Show, NBC’s The Chew, Martha Stewart Radio Show, and American Public Radio and has been a keynote speaker with a wide variety of organizations ranging from design schools and trade organizations to design guilds and national corporations, like Target, Ann Taylor, BlogHer, Blogtacular, IDS, IDSA and Weapons of Mass Creation.

Grace has published two best-selling books. Design*Sponge at Home was published in 2009 and has over 120,000 copies in print.  In the Company of Women, published in 2016, is now a New York Times Best Seller and has over 100k copies in print.

Grace Bonney was raised in Virginia Beach and graduated from First Colonial High School and The College of William and Mary.  After 12 years in Brooklyn, Grace now lives in the Hudson Valley with her wife, Julia, and their three pets.

As PrideFest 2017 Grand Marshal, Grace will lead a dialogue, panel conversation, and book signing at the Chrysler Museum of Art on Thursday, June 15 focused on women, entrepreneurship, and design.   She will lead Hampton Roads Pride’s annual Pride Boat Parade with an escort from the United States Coast Guard and introduce PrideFest headliners Village People at PrideFest on June 17 at Town Point Park.

Grace Bonney: “I’m so proud to return to my hometown of Virginia Beach to celebrate the wonderfully diverse, creative and talented members of the LGBTQ community and all they’ve contributed- and continue to contribute- to our area. The LGBTQ community is a vibrant and growing part of our larger Hampton Roads community and I’m so honored to be a member and to be leading this year’s festival.”

Michael Berlucchi, president, Hampton Roads Pride: “We’re excited to welcome Grace Bonney back to Hampton Roads as our PrideFest 2017 Grand Marshal.  Grace’s life and career are an inspiration to many – she is a successful businessperson who relentlessly pursues her passion for creativity and design.  Grace uses her considerable voice and platform to inspire and empower a global audience that includes men and women of all cultures and members of the LGBT community.  We are proud of Grace’s many accomplishments and look forward to seeing her and her wife Julia during Pride Week.”

PrideFest APPEARANCES:

Third Thursday: Chrysler Pride

Thursday, June 15
5pm-10pm
Chrysler Museum of Art
1 Memorial Place
Norfolk, VA 23510

 Kick off a weekend of PrideFest activities starting with the Chrysler Museum.  Dance the night away surrounded by your favorite works of art. Start the night at 6:30 p.m. with a panel talk by Grace Bonney, author of Design*Sponge at Home and In the Company of Women. Book signing will immediately follow the talk.

Enjoy pumping music, live dancers, and tours of the galleries. Get hands-on with our Make & Take area or stop by the cash bar for a special LGBTini. A night you won’t forget!

Free for members of The Chrysler Museum of Art and Hampton Roads Pride.

6th Annual Pride Block Party

“Under The Big Top”
Friday, June 16
7pm-Midnight
Norfolk Scope Arena

 A unique celebration of Pride featuring a night of celebrating, dancing, performers, games, and circus fun.  Join us!

$10 admission at the door

PrideFest 2017

Saturday, June 17
Noon-7pm
Town Point Park
Norfolk, VA 23510

City of Norfolk Government, Decorum Furniture, Newport News Shipbuilding, & WHRO Present: PrideFest 2017

FREE AND OPEN TO ALL

 Featuring Headliners:

**VILLAGE PEOPLE**

**MARTHA WASH**

 The nation’s only Pride Boat Parade

 The Pride Silent Disco

Hampton Roads Pride Mass Choir

Local LGBT History and Walking Tour

Expanded Family Fun & Games

NAMES Project Foundation AIDS Memorial Quilt

Chrysler Museum of Art Mobile Glass Studio

Virginia Aquarium Touch Tank

Pride Caricatures

All-New ClubPridefest!

And much more!

 

PrideFest is the largest annual LGBT festival in Virginia.

PrideFest combines entertainment, vendors, and fun activities for all ages. PrideFest attracts thousands of visitors and brings together local residents, families, community leaders, civic organizations, and businesses to unite the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) and allied communities in support of inclusion, dignity and equality of all people.

 LGBT Liaison Officers Appointed at Police Departments in All Seven Hampton Roads Cities

NORFOLK With the appointment of Sergeant Jessica Pennington as the LGBT Liaison Officer for the Newport News Police Department, Hampton Roads Pride is delighted to announce that LGBT Liaison Officers have been appointed in all of the seven major Hampton Roads cities. 

The relationship between the LGBT community and law enforcement is rapidly evolving in response to changing laws, policies, and social perceptions about people who identify as LGBT.  Hampton Roads Pride and regional law enforcement agencies are taking pro-active steps to enhance our relationship and to establish a meaningful, ongoing dialogue so that we may better serve our community.

Hampton Roads Pride has advocated for the appointment of LGBT Liaison Officers in local police agencies since Norfolk Police Department created the first program in August of 2015.  Hampton Roads Pride, in cooperation with our local, state, and federal partners, has played a critical, coordinating role in advocating for, establishing, and supporting these important positions.

In January, Hampton Roads Pride and WHRO presented a community Town Hall conversation at the Chrysler Museum of Art.  Over 300 people attended “Law Enforcement, Rights, and Safety” where members of the community and law enforcement professionals gathered to help establish and enhance vital bridges of trust and understanding. 

The specific responsibilities of LGBT Liaison Officers vary from agency to agency, but some responsibilities include: 

  • Serve as both a spokesperson for the organization to a local LGBT demographics as well as a representative of LGBT interests to the leaders of the organization. LGBT liaisons typically play an advisory role to organizations or government branches.
  • Promote equity and inclusion in the workplace, which can enhance an agency’s ability to attract and retain the brightest talent.
  • Liaison officers, who typically oversee diversity training on sexual orientation, attend special events and generally function as go-betweens, are viewed as critical to bridging the historically deep divide between the LGBT community and law enforcement
  • Help to build mutual trust, respect, and understanding
  • Break down barriers and preconceived ideas that both sides have of each other.  Officers serve not just as an asset for the LGBT community but also as a resource for fellow officers if they have questions or concerns about how to deal with different situations they may face.
  • Assist, advise, and consult other officers on cases involving LGBT issues
  • Provide training for members of the department on LGBT topics
  • Meet with business owners, community groups, and individuals of the LGBT community and present information on relevant law enforcement issues
  • Attend events in the LGBT community as a representative of the agency
  • Identify and attend training related to LGBT topics

Hampton Roads Pride president Michael Berlucchi: “We are grateful that every municipal police department in Hampton Roads has appointed an LGBT Liaison Officer.  Hampton Roads Pride is encouraged by the law enforcement community’s affirmative response to the changing social and political landscape for LGBT individuals.  We are committed to working with law enforcement agencies across Hampton Roads to do our part to ensure that everyone in our community is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.  I believe that Hampton Roads will become safer and more equitable place to live and work as a result of the historic appointment of LGBT Liaison Officers across all Seven Cities.  This is a positive step forward for everyone.”

Sergeant Craig Lovelace, LGBT Liaison Officer, Norfolk Police Department: “I see the appointment of LGBT Liaison officers as a cultural shift, both within the police department and within society. The LGBT liaison role is to serve as a bridge between the LGBT community and the police department, helping to build mutual trust, respect, and understanding between the two groups. The liaison officer can advocate for the LGBT community by making sure their concerns are heard by the police department. Also, by ensuring that LGBT people feel safe and protected, particularly when reporting crimes.

Being an openly gay officer gives me credibility within the LGBT community and helps to foster trust with a population that historically has felt mistrust toward law enforcement. An openly gay officer or LGBT ally can say to the LGBT community, this is what the police are saying and this is what it means, and I can say to the police, this is what the community is saying and this is what it means.

The appointment by police departments of liaison officers for the LGBT community can greatly assist with the department’s progression and support of the LGBT community and thus build a stronger bridge of communication between the two groups, thus enhance police legitimacy within the greater LGBT community and society in general.”

Sergeant Michele “Shelly” Meister, LGBT Liaison Officer, Virginia Beach Police Department: “Liaison positions are incredibly important for public service organizations, regardless of the focus group. Liaison positions can be temporary to serve an immediate purpose for a specific event, or have a long-term vision to support greater goals. The LGBT law enforcement liaison position is incredibly important because there is a historical mistrust for law enforcement rooted in the LGBT community and conversely there has been a lack of understanding from law enforcement. As the Virginia Beach Police Department’s LGBT liaison, I have had the opportunity to bridge this divide and bring clarity and trust to both sides. Law Enforcement LGBT liaisons lend legitimacy to the conveyance of information through their positions, and can provide anecdotal experiences for real-life situations; this level of knowledge cannot be achieved through academic review but only through personal connections and community involvement, which is the hallmark of Community Oriented Policing. This country has a long history of using laws and police to further marginalize the LGBT community, however, the law enforcement profession has expended great effort to extinguish discriminatory practices, and the appointment of LGBT liaisons into police departments just solidifies this philosophy.”

Captain Kenneth W. Saucer, LGBT Liaison Officer, Portsmouth Police Department: “The Portsmouth Police Department is dedicated to the protection and security of all people and, in partnership with our community, to providing quality public safety services while affording dignity and respect to every individual. By endorsing the Portsmouth Police Department’s LGBT Liaison Officer, Hampton Roads Pride has paved the way for the Department to build trust and transparency with the LGBT community that we serve.”

For a complete directory of LGBT Liaison Officers, click here: http://www.hamptonroadspride.org/resources/lgbt-liaison-officers/

2016 Board Nominees Announced

The profiles for the 2016 Board Nominees are now available on HamptonRoadsPride.org. All members of Hampton Roads Pride are invited to read about each of the qualified individuals interested in joining the Board of Directors. All members are eligible to vote on November 7th, 2017 at the November Membership meeting held at WHRO at 5200 Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk.

Check out the Board Nominees now!

2016-18 Board Nomination Form Now Available

Interested in serving on the Hampton Roads Pride Board? Know someone that you would like to nominate? Well, now’s your chance! Download the 16-18 Nomination Form right here and get started today. Completed forms and resumes are due by September 9th, 2016. Submittal instructions are included in the PDF.

Click here to Download the Form

Downtown Norfolk Supports Hampton Roads Pride

The Downtown Norfolk Council (DNC), a proud sponsor of Hampton Roads PrideFest 2016, has reached out to businesses in Downtown Norfolk to get them engaged in PrideFest. These businesses have pledged their support for Hampton Roads Pride and will be running specials and showing their support for the LGBT community in Hampton Roads and around the world. Please support the businesses that support you!

  • Barrel Room
  • Brick Anchor
  • Field Guide
  • Freemason Abbey
  • Granby Social Club
  • Granby Street Pizza
  • Green House Kitchen
  • Grilled Cheese Bistro
  • Groove Record Shop
  • Hells Kitchen
  • Kellam Galleries
  • Lamias Crepes
  • Saint Germain
  • Salon Fringe [20% off any service to any persons that are wearing any rainbow or equality item]
  • Todd Jurich’s
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Voila!  [special cocktail & menu item]
  • Work Release [flying rainbow flag on the building; offering pride-friendly programming all weekend; discounts on food; pride cocktails]

Hampton Roads Pride President Statement on Security at PrideFest in Wake of Orlando Tragedy

Hampton Roads Pride’s President, Michael Berlucchi, today released a statement about the security for PrideFest this weekend in the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando:

The tragic events at Pulse nightclub in Orlando remind us that our community’s efforts to advance justice and equality are as important now as they ever have been. Hampton Roads Pride is committed to successfully executing PrideFest 2016, even in the face of hate and terror.

Our plans for the Fifth Annual Pride Block Party and PrideFest 2016 go forward. Our community will demonstrate its solidarity with the LGBT community and its commitment to the values we cherish by celebrating together on June 17th & 18th

There has always been a robust, comprehensive security strategy for our PrideFest events. As a result of the heartbreaking events in Orlando, Hampton Roads Pride is working closely with the Norfolk Police Department as well as state and federal agencies to support the safety of our events.

Fifth Annual Pride Block Party
Friday, June 17
Norfolk Scope Arena
7pm-Midnight

 

PrideFest 2016
Saturday, June 18
Town Point Park
Noon-7pm

PrideFest Returns June 18 to Town Point Park

Hampton Roads Pride welcomes the LGBT community, its supporters and all of Hampton Roads and beyond to the 2016 PrideFest June 18 in downtown Norfolk.

The popular festival, with its “Love Unites” theme, will host two international headliners, pop sensation Betty Who and country singer Billy Gilman. Military music, family fun and LGBTQ history activities, the nation’s only Pride Boat Parade and other events will fill the day in Norfolk’s Town Point Park.

“PrideFest 2016 is shaping up to be the largest and most impactful LGBT community event Hampton Roads has ever seen,” said Michael Berlucchi, president of Hampton Roads Pride. “The festival and surrounding events are meant to raise visibility around our region’s LGBT and allied communities. It also gives us a chance to celebrate what makes us special and unique.”

Pride Week begins June 11 with a week of related activities (see schedule below) that includes a glass-blowing demonstration, gallery talk, interfaith service, and two social networking events. The weekend kicks off with the huge Fifth Annual Pride Block Party June 17 in Norfolk Scope Arena.

Now in its 28th year, PrideFest joins other LGBT festivals taking place during June, which is Pride Month, and is Norfolk’s largest one-day festival. Popular club performer Mercedes Douglas is this year’s Grand Marshal, and the Pride Stage emcees will be headed up by WTKR News Anchor Blaine Stewart. Among the honorary guests attending will be state senators and representatives, Hampton Roads mayors and council members.

Joining the flotilla of flag-draped boats in the Pride Boat Parade that begins the day will be the American Rover and a U.S. Coast Guard vessel. The festival will feature appearances and performances by the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard, U.S. Army TRADOC Band’s “Shore Groove” rock band, Hampton Roads Pride Mass Choir, Teens with a Purpose, Miss Models Inc., Virginia Opera and Todd Rosenlieb Dance. Club Stage will showcase local DJs and club performers throughout the day.

A family fun area will offer acrobats, face-painting and the Silent Disco, where listeners can tap into three different music tracks on multiple headsets. Pieces of the AIDS quilt will be on display, and the Hampton Roads Pride area will offer a local history tour. American Sign Language interpreters will be on hand for Pride Stage events.

This year, PrideFest will award three student scholarships, one named in honor of slain Bangladeshi activist Xulhaz Mannan.

“Across the country, LGBT people are experiencing unprecedented social and political successes,” said Berlucchi. “Despite the tremendous progress we’ve made, we also know that we have a long way to go before we achieve full equality. PrideFest organizes our community in an effort to advance that goal.”

2016 PrideFest principal sponsors include Decorum Furniture, Newport News Shipbuilding and WHRO with additional main support from Distinctive Event Rentals, Visit Norfolk and others.

More information is available online at www.hamptonroadspride.org.

For press inquiries, contact David Nicholson at media@hamptonroadspride.org.

The performers

Betty Who ‘s high-energy dance style and poignant lyrics have made the Australian-born singer a favorite among the LGBT community. She’ll perform “Somebody Loves You” and other songs from her RCA Records release, “Take Me When You Go.”

Billy Gilman had a million-selling album at age 12, making him the youngest singer to have a Top 40 hit on the country music charts. Now in his late 20s, Gilman made headlines two years ago when he announced he was gay in an emotional YouTube video.

Pride Week schedule

Saturday, June 11

Fired Up! For PrideFest. Noon. Chrysler Museum Glass Studio, 745 Duke St., Norfolk. Pride-themed glass-blowing demonstration. Free.

Special Gallery Talk: LGBT. 2 p.m. Chrysler Museum of Art, One Memorial Place, Norfolk. Join Chief Curator Emeritus Jeff Harrison for a tour of LGBT-themed art in the museum collection. Free.

Tuesday, June 14

Interfaith Celebration. 7 p.m. Temple Ohef Sholom, 530 Raleigh Ave., Norfolk. Sponsored by the LGBTQSI Inter-Faith Group. Free.

Wednesday, June 15

Party on the Peninsula. 5 to 7 p.m. Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina Hotel, 700 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton. This rain or shine event features a live band. Free.

Thursday, June 16

The Dandy Shandy. 6 p.m. O’Connor Brewing Co., 211 W. 24th St., Norfolk. Sponsored with the Hampton Roads Business OUTReach networking group, the evening will feature a signature Pride brew, 8 p.m. drag show, food trucks and more. Free.

Friday, June 17

Pride Block Party. 7 p.m. to midnight. Norfolk Scope Arena. 201 E. Brambleton Ave., Norfolk. Featuring DJ Tezrah, craft cocktails and more. Open to all (age 21 and up to drink). $10 donation at the door.

Saturday, June 18

PrideFest. Noon to 7 p.m. Town Point Park, downtown Norfolk. Featuring musical performances by Betty Who, Billy Gilman and others. Plus Pride Boat Parade, Club Stage with local DJs and club performers, Family Fun area, and Hampton Roads’ LGBT History Exhibit. Free.

Sunday, June 19

“Drag Yourself to the Beach.” 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Croc’s 19th Street Bistro. 620 19th St., Virginia Beach. Sunday Drag Brunch. Reservations needed, 757-428-5444 or online at www.dragyourselftobrunch.com.

Hampton Roads Pride scholarship to honor slain LGBT leader

From The Daily Press, May 5, 2016

Hampton Roads Pride will award one of its scholarships this year to honor the life and legacy of Xulhaz Mannan.  This scholarship will be awarded at PrideFest 2016 at Town Point Park June 18.

On April 25, Xulhaz Mannan and his close friend were murdered in Dakar, Bangladesh.  A group of armed assailants linked to Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility.

Mannan worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development and was the editor of Roopbaan, the country’s only LGBT magazine, and had helped organize a rally for LGBT youths called The Rainbow Rally on April 14, the Bengali New Year.  According to the Associated Press, the men were targeted because they were “pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality.”

“He was the kind of person willing to fight for what he believed in, someone ready to stand up for his own rights and the rights of others,” USAID Administrator Gayle Smith said in a statement.

This gruesome tragedy highlights the treacherous global landscape for LGBT people and the deadly threats faced by those who have the courage to come out in repressed societies and cultures.

Much of Mannan’s family lives in Virginia Beach, including his nephew, Raj Islam.  Raj Islam is a Captain with Virginia Beach Emergency Medical Services and an appointed member of the City of Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission.  Much like his uncle, Raj Islam is a passionate advocate for justice, equality, and human rights in his community, including LGBT equality.  Raj Islam and his wife Korinne are PrideFest 2016 supporters and donors.

Hampton Roads Pride president Michael Berlucchi said, “This tragic news hit us hard and we felt strongly we needed to respond with something positive in the face of this injustice, however small it might be in comparison.  Hampton Roads Pride is involved in much of the same advocacy work as Mr. Mannan.  It’s terrifying to know that simply being an authentic person and an advocate for equality could have deadly consequences.”

Dr. Charles Ford, co-chairman of Hampton Roads Pride’s Scholarship Committee said this action would demonstrate “solidarity with our brothers/sisters in Islamic and Asian countries where LGBT folks are being killed for being who they are. This is an appropriate recognition of a martyr in that struggle for equality before the law.”

The NPR program, HearSay with Cathy Lewis, featured this story which included a conversation with Islam and Berlucchi.  http://hearsay.org/2016/05/02/default.aspx

Follow the Daily Press on Twitter @Daily_Press.