Prominent LGBT activists honored by Equality Virginia

equality virginiaEquality Virginia will honor the 2019 class of OUTstanding Virginians-those who represent Virginia’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community with distinction and who are committed to moving the LGBT community forward – at its 16th Annual Commonwealth Dinner.

This year’s April 13 dinner is especially significant as it also commemorates the 30th anniversary of the founding of Equality Virginia.

“The contributions made by our OUTstanding Virginians are especially poignant this year as we are also celebrating the 30th anniversary of the founding of Equality Virginia.  We are proud of the contributions that these individuals have made, which impact the LGBT community on the local, regional, and national level,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia.  “We are grateful to the 2019 class of OUTstanding Virginians for all that they have done to make the Commonwealth a more welcoming and inclusive place for all Virginians.”

2019’s OUTstanding Virginians

AGLA (Arlington Gay & Lesbian Alliance): Founded in 1981, AGLA has fought and won many battles for equality for the LGBT community in Northern Virginia.  Through the eighties and nineties when getting the public on board with LGBT rights was met with resistance, AGLA persisted and not only helped win many legal cases that enshrined LGBT protections, but also successfully engaged with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to work together on issues protecting the LGBT community.  Today AGLA continues to serve as a beacon for equality for LGBT people and their allies.

Reverend Joe Cobb, Roanoke: Rev. Cobb has served as a pastor in MCC (Metropolitan Community Churches) for over a decade. In addition, he has served as Executive Director of the Interfaith Hospitality Network and as a member of the Community and Diversity Advisory Council for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.  In 2011, he co-authored a book with his former spouse, Rev. Leigh Anne Taylor, called “Our Family Outing: A Memoir of Coming out and Coming Through,” which discusses the journey of redemption, growth, and love that the their family went on when Joe came out as gay. In 2018, Rev. Cobb was elected Vice Mayor of Roanoke where he now lives with his husband, James, and their two children Ginny and JJ.

Jay Corprew, Virginia Beach: Jay is a highly revered activist within the community, serving as an active board member of the Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia, and volunteering at a myriad of community events. As a transgender man of color Jay has dealt with discrimination and he often shares his own experiences in an effort to put a face on the challenges facing the LGBT community.  He says, “I know what it is like to be trans and homeless, denied help because I am trans. I was homeless three times over the course of seven years. I survived that time in my life, and this is my way of giving back and helping my community.”

Reverend Lacette Cross, Richmond: Rev. Cross is a legend within the Richmond LGBT community and has spent her entire career amplifying the needs of LGBT communities of color.  She is the pastor of Restoration Fellowship RVA, an open and affirming faith community known for “doing church differently” on Richmond’s northside.  She is also the Founder/CEO of “Will You Be Whole” that talks sex and faith for wholeness with black women and LGBT folks (and those who love them). In addition, one of her most notable accomplishments was when she, along with other local leaders, formed UGRC (Us Giving Richmond Connections) which works to foster inclusion and advance equality for Black LGBT people by training leaders in the Black LGBT community to serve on boards, lead their own organizations, or create transformational change in their communities.  Last year UGRC hosted Richmond’s first ever Black Pride and they plan to continue that tradition in the years to come.

Kathy & Ray Green, Glen Allen: Kathy and Ray have been married for nearly forty years.  They are lifelong allies of the LGBT community, and they are well-known in the greater Richmond area for their tireless volunteerism. Since moving to Virginia seven years ago, they have both donated hundreds of hours of their time to a variety of local organizations including: Virginia Pride, Health Brigade (formerly Fan Free Clinic), Nationz Foundation, Diversity Richmond, Equality Virginia, and Side by Side. Ray served as Chair of PRISM, the LGBT Employee Resource Network, at the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond.  During his tenure, the bank received a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign Equality Index.

Bill Harrison, RichmondBill has been an outspoken LGBT activist in Richmond since the mid-1970s.  He served as the Director of Development for Health Brigade (formerly known as Fan Free Clinic) during the height of the AIDS epidemic, and was the first public information officer for the HIV/AIDS program of the Virginia Department of Health.  Later, he moved on to the Red Cross where he served as the Public Affairs and Government Relations Director for seventeen years. Since 2011, he has led Diversity Richmond, the central Virginia LGBT community center. He took a fledgling organization, and through his leadership, transformed it into one of Virginia’s leading LGBT organizations.

The Honorable Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond: When Mayor Stoney was elected in 2016 he prioritized building an inclusive city for all residents, no matter where they come from, the color of their skin, how they worship, or who they love.  Before he took office, Richmond’s score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (which measures locality’s responsiveness to the LGBT community) was 46 out of 100. By working with the City Council to establish a Human Rights Commission and non-discrimination laws, designating a policy advisor to serve as the Mayor’s LGBT liaison, and offering transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees, Stoney’s administration was able to increase that score to 94.

Jay Timmons, McLean: Jay is president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and chairman of the board of the NAM’s Manufacturing Institute.  NAM is the largest manufacturing association in the United States representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector. His previous experience includes serving as chief of staff to Congressman, Governor and Senator George Allen (R-VA) from 1991 to 2002 and a term as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2004 election cycle.  Jay and his husband Rick, a federal lobbyist for Capital One, made national headlines in 2016 when they faced a legal battle over the paternal rights of a child they were expecting via a surrogate in Wisconsin. Since then, Jay and Rick have become outspoken advocates working with the Family Equality Council for the rights of same sex parents. With Jay’s advocacy, the 2019 Virginia General Assembly introduced and passed legislation that updates the code to now use gender neutral terminology when referring to parents allowing for equal treatment for same-sex couples in Virginia.

Equality Virginia has recognized OUTstanding Virginians at its annual Commonwealth Dinner since 2009.  The Commonwealth Dinner is Virginia’s largest black-tie gala for the LGBT community and supporters. Learn more about the 2019 OUTstanding Virginians at www.equalityvirginia.org/dinner2019/outvas/

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