This Veterans Day, Diversity Richmond will host an evening of stories from LGBTQ veterans and armed services members, in order to help create a community for current and former service members who are too often isolated.
One million LGBTQ military veterans. 80,000 LGBTQ active duty members of our armed services. But between the lingering legacy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the current transgender military ban struggle, there’s an isolating and silencing effect that has made it hard for LGBTQ veterans and service members to find community. This Veterans Day, Diversity Richmond wants to change that.
Together with a variety of local support organizations including Minority Veterans of America, the Military Kid Art Project, Transgender Veteran Support Group Virginia, and more, Diversity Richmond will be hosting the city’s first LGBTQ veterans gathering on Monday night. Entitled “Our Stories, Our Truth: An LGBTQ Veterans Day Celebration,” the event is designed to encourage community by allowing LGBTQ veterans to hear each other’s stories and feel a little less alone.
“Nobody knows our issues like we know our issues,” said Diversity Richmond’s Executive Director, Bill Harrison. “Connecting with each other is the first problem to solve, because we often don’t even know how many of us exist. The program will allow LGBT vets to share their journeys and offer a candid, honest conversation about their experiences.”
The event will feature a performance from Monument City Music and a keynote speech from Trish E. King, a retired US Army soldier with over 20 years military experience. In 2015, she became the first openly transgender infantry member, and has since been an LGBTQ advocate who believes that “teams are at their best when everyone can bring their whole self to the table.”
There will also be an opportunity to hear from each other, as attendees will get the opportunity to share their own stories of being LGBTQ veterans.
“Veterans Day is a celebration of those who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces, but often LGBTQ veterans feel as though they don’t belong in the veteran community,” said Minority Veterans of America Executive Director Lindsay Church. “Policies like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Military Trans Ban have made it so LGBTQ veterans and service members have constantly had to hide their identity. This event is an opportunity for LGBTQ veterans and family members to break the silence and speak our collective truth.”
“Our Stories, Our Truth” will take place at Diversity Richmond on Monday, November 11, beginning at 7 PM. It is free and open to the public, and the hosts encourage non-veterans to attend as well, in order to gain a better understanding of the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ veterans and armed services members in America today. More details about the event are available here.