How Central VA’s LGBTQ Community Is Responding To Coronavirus

by | Apr 1, 2020 | QUEER RVA

Plans are changing. Alternate arrangements are being made. Around Richmond and central Virginia, LGBTQ organizations are adjusting to the restrictions required by coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know.

From the tediousness of sheltering in place to the terrifying implications of lost income to the frustrating experience that shopping for basic necessities has become, COVID-19, aka the novel coronavirus, is messing all of us up. Not only are members of the LGBTQ community at higher risk for infection by COVID-19, LGBTQ people are more likely to be on the lower end of the economic spectrum, and therefore to face unpleasant consequences of the current economic slowdown more quickly than most.

With all of this going on, we felt it was important to let everyone know what’s happening with the many LGBTQ advocacy and support organizations around Richmond, as well as all of our favorite LGBTQ-centered night spots and entertainment venues. Here’s what we know right now.

Richmond LGBTQ Chamber

In light of the need for social distancing, the Richmond LGBTQ Chamber (formerly known as Richmond Business Alliance) has cancelled all scheduled events for at least eight weeks. The upcoming volunteer meeting has been moved to a conference call. “In these difficult times it is imperative that we support one another,” said Richmond LGBTQ Chamber President Natasha Crosby in a statement. “We pride ourselves on the Richmond LGBTQ Chamber being YOUR chamber of commerce and want you to know that we are here to support you during this time.” The Chamber has created a relief fund for members of the Chamber experiencing financial hardship, and will be giving micro-grants starting mid-April. To apply for assistance, email info@RichmondLGBTQChamber.org. The relief fund is also currently accepting donations at Richmond LGBTQ Chamber’s website.

Diversity Richmond

All aspects of Diversity Richmond, including Diversity Thrift and Iridian Gallery, are closed for the next two weeks. Scheduled events are on hold, and Diversity will be monitoring the situation between now and the end of the month in order to decide on any further action. “Stay safe and help take care of your friends,” the organization said in a statement.

Richmond Triangle Players

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, Richmond Triangle Players have postponed the opening of their next production, Sugar In Our Wounds, until mid-May. However, gift certificates are available for purchase at RTP’s website, and are a great way to support the theater as it gets back on its feet. “As always, we are grateful for your ongoing support and hope to see you at the Theatre soon,” said RTP Executive Director Philip Crosby in a statement. “Stay safe. Stay home as much as possible. And wash those hands!

Equality Virginia

The first year of Democratic control in the General Assembly brought a slew of legislative victories for Virginia’s LGBTQ community, but unfortunately, coronavirus has prevented Equality Virginia’s celebration. The annual Equality Virginia Commonwealth Dinner, originally scheduled for Saturday, March 28, has been cancelled. If you bought a ticket, information on obtaining a refund is available at EV’s website. “We deeply empathize and share the disappointment our community will feel regarding this decision, especially our OUTstanding Virginians whose unique contributions to LGBTQ equality would have been celebrated at the Commonwealth Dinner,” the group said in a statement. “We honor their passion, dedication, and accomplishments which together help to build a stronger, more vibrant LGBTQ community in the Commonwealth.”

Side By Side

Virginia’s advocates for LGBTQ youth have made extensive changes in order to accomodate the ongoing situation where coronavirus is concerned. The organization’s office is closed for the foreseeable future, and all drop-in hours have been cancelled. All support groups for Richmond and Charlottesville have moved to online virtual groups using Zoom. New youth can still join — more information on joining support groups and on additional support available, including G-chat, individual counseling, youth support lines, and much more is available at sidebysideva.org/covid19.

Additionally, Side By Side is looking for volunteers to help show LGBTQ youth stuck at home with potentially unsupportive families some online love. “

“We are calling on our LGBTQ+ community and amazing allies to post a video showing your pride or your love for LGBTQ+ youth with #PrideAtHome and tag Side by Side to show your support,” the group said in a statement. “Let’s remind our youth that they are fabulous and loved and that being proud of who you are can happen anywhere!”

Health Brigade

Health Brigade has moved to remote operations. All events on-site have been cancelled until further notice. If you have an appointment for the medical clinic, staff will be in touch with you about alternate arrangements. New patients are not being accepted at this time. Individual therapy sessions are being held by phone; all groups have been suspended until further notice. Transgender Health Services is operating remotely, and is not accepting new clients, but is available for contact 9am – 5pm Monday through Friday. STI/HIV testing, comprehensive harm reduction/needle exchange, starting new patients on PrEP, Transgender Health Services intakes, and Ryan White Part B Intakes have all been suspended until further notice. More information on Health Brigade services during this time can be found at healthbrigade.org/covid19update/.

“We have been receiving heart-warming inquires from our funders and the community at large. In a time of such uncertainty, people want to help their neighbors most in need,” Health Brigade Executive Director Karen A. Legato said in a statement. “The best way to help us is to DONATE. As a private, non-profit clinic, we do NOT receive federal funding. If you can give, we promise, we will put your gift into providing patient/client/community care.” That link to donate is here; many of the most vulnerable members of our community rely on Health Brigade for health care; if you’re in a position to help, we highly recommend that you do so.

Planned Parenthood

As of right now, Planned Parenthood is remaining open. They ask that if you have a fever, are experiencing symptoms that might be connected to COVID-19, or have traveled recently, that you call before any appointment and consult with staff on next steps. They also ask that clients come alone to appointments, in order to minimize risk to staff and other patients. But they are making a point to be as available as possible.

“One of the reasons you have chosen Planned Parenthood as your health care provider is because of one simple standard: our doors stay open,” said Virginia League for Planned Parenthood Medical Director Dr. Shanthi Ramesh in a statement. “We care. No matter what. We are open. We are here for you. We know that health care is a critical piece of your life and your community and that there are many things that are uncertain about the days and weeks ahead. We are open for services such as abortion care, urinary tract infections, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and urgent primary care concerns.”

“Just know that we are doing everything we can to make your life easier and get you the information and care you need. Whether we provide services online, by phone, in person or chat/text, we’re here with you.”

Nationz Foundation

Nationz Foundation’s current office hours are 10am – 5pm, by appointment only. They are continuing to provide HIV and STI testing during these hours, but are not accepting walk-ins in order to protect staff and clients. Appointments can be made by calling (804)716-7597. “We will continue to Aim to Inspire during these difficult times and encourage our community to as well!” Nationz said in a statement.

Babes of Carytown

Babes remained open for carryout and delivery throughout March, but as of April 1, have decided to close until further notice.

Godfrey’s

Godfrey’s has been doing Virtual Drag Brunches from 11am-2pm on Sundays, so you’re not entirely deprived of your drag brunch goodness — it just comes through Facebook and Instagram now. They’ve also been hosting Virtual Drag Shows on Wednesday evenings at 8pm; tonight’s will feature raffles for gift certificates to drag brunch when all this mess is over. So tune in and get your Paypal or CashApp ready to send in those tips!

Barcode

Barcode are offering their full menu for takeout orders, and have delivery available through Grubhub. To place an order, call Barcode at (804)648-2040. “We are practicing safety and caution for our staff and clients,” Barcode said in a statement. “Thanks again for your continued support.”

Fallout

Fallout is currently open from 6pm to 12am for takeout. Their full menu is available, and staff can meet you with food curbside by request. To-go orders can be placed by calling (804)343-3688. All events have been cancelled until further notice, including the regular Wicked Wednesday drag night. Fallout merchandise is available online for purchase, as are gift cards, and a portion of the purchase price for both will be reserved for employees.

“We are working out a way to support the staff as much as possible if a mandated shutdown/shift loss becomes a reality,” Fallout management said in a statement. “Please also consider supporting local artists, performers, sex workers. There are several orgs forming to give mutual aid, especially in the queer community, keep an eye out for those and donate where you can.”

VA Pride

While VA Pride hasn’t had to cancel any events as yet, they are currently working with The Holli Fund on a Virtual Happy Hour, to be held Friday, March 20 from noon to 7pm. The goal of the online event is to raise money for those from the food industry whose incomes have taken a hit due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. More information on that event, and how you can donate, can be found here.

“VA Pride is currently reaching out to local and state officials and is working with local relief efforts to see how we can best leverage our resources, networks and connections to help,” said VA Pride President James R. Millner II in a statement. “We will keep you informed of our efforts and will ask you to join us when the time is right. We are also going to be sharing information on relief efforts already underway so you can access them if you need to and support them if you are able. We are committed to do all we can to ensure the safety, health and well-being of not just our LGBTQ family, but of our entire RVA community.”

Would you like your organization included on this list? Does information on this list need to be updated? If so, please send an email to drew@gayrva.com. We will be updating this list with new information as we receive it.

Top Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.



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