This year’s Commonwealth Dinner may have been cancelled, but Equality Virginia’s OUTstanding Virginians of 2020 still deserve recognition.
The COVID-19 pandemic is messing everyone up, and Virginia’s LGBTQ community is certainly not immune. Equality Virginia’s 17th Annual Commonwealth Dinner, originally scheduled for March 28, had to be cancelled, and as a result, the LGBTQ advocacy group’s annual OUTstanding Virginians honorees got quite a bit less shine than they would in an ordinary year.
While we totally get that the annual dinner was a necessary casualty of the current pandemic, this year’s OUTstanding Virginians still deserve every bit of recognition that they’d get in any other year. So as the year drags on with no end to our current quarantine in sight as yet, we here at GayRVA wanted to make sure we recognized their contributions to the LGBTQ community of Virginia before the opportunity passed us by.
“Afton Bradley is a registered nurse and community advocate who was responsible for implementing the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood’s first Transgender Health Care Program in late 2016. Before, Afton spent three years as the Transgender Services Program Manager at Health Brigade, formerly the Fan Free Clinic. In addition to their work with countless community organizations, they travel the state to educate trans individuals about how to access affirming healthcare and train healthcare providers about best practices for serving trans patients.”
“Bianca Rey was born and raised in the Philippines before moving to the United States in 1998. She is a vocal and visible advocate for the transgender community, which includes the leadership role she has held with Capital Trans Pride for three years and volunteering with the Capital Pride Alliance. Bianca is currently the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Specialist at Kaiser Permanente in the Mid-Atlantic. She is also a member of Equality Virginia’s Transgender Advocacy Speakers Bureau and has served as a speaker for four years.”
“Crystal Suber owns Crystal Clear Financial Solutions, an insurance and financial services firm in Richmond. She is a highly active leader in the Greater Richmond community and can often be found volunteering at a variety of LGBT events. She previously served as Vice Chair on the Diversity Richmond Board, and currently serves on the boards of LGBT Democrats of Virginia, Black Pride RVA, Richmond LGBTQ Chamber, and Baby Buns for Life Network.”
“Elizabeth Fogarty is a proud ally and tireless volunteer well-known for her commitment to building relationships among faith and LGBT communities across the state. She was a longtime organizer for People of Faith for Equality in Virginia – Northern Virginia Network, and continues to serve as a facilitator for Metro DC PFLAG’s Arlington community group and to co-chair Equality UUCA, the LGBTQ+ ally group at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington. Fogarty also served on Equality Virginia’s Board of Directors.”
“John Osterhout is the former vice president and president of Hampton Roads Pride where he skillfully navigated the organization into a new era of success. He is a lifelong educator and librarian, which led him to the National Education Association’s LGBT Caucus (then Sexual Minority committee) where he served as secretary and treasurer. He also works with the Virginia Education Association’s LGBTQ+ Work Group to develop and provide training on how to create local school systems that are inclusive of LGBTQ students, teachers, and faculty. He remains an active volunteer in the Hampton Roads community.”
“Michael Sutphin is the Vice Mayor of Blacksburg and has served on the city council there since 2011, which made him the first openly-LGBT elected official in Southwest Virginia. While attending Virginia Tech, he served as news editor and reporter for the Collegiate Times and as president of the university’s LGBT Alliance. Michael has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Blacksburg Planning Commission, the Metropolitan Planning Organization Board, and Equality Virginia’s Board of Directors.”
Virginia Equality Bar Association (VEBA)
“The Virginia Equality Bar Association (VEBA) is a statewide organization of legal professionals working to secure equality for the LGBTQ community. While the group provides a variety of trainings and resources to the legal community and general public, VEBA is best known for hosting free Name and Gender Marker Change Legal Clinics for members of the transgender community. Originally a collaboration between VEBA and Equality Virginia, the legal clinics are hosted multiple times a year throughout the state and are an important resource offered at Equality Virginia’s ongoing Transgender Information and Empowerment Summit (TIES) events.”
Our sincere thanks to these community leaders, and to Equality Virginia for continuing in their mission of advocacy and support. Hopefully next year, we’ll all be able to come together once again in celebration of Virginia’s LGBTQ community.