Richmond Recognized for LGBTQ Inclusivity
By, Cameron McPherson
Grab your helmets and shin guards. LGBTQ athletes from across the nation will compete on dodgeball courts and softball fields throughout the Richmond region when the Sports Diamond Jubilee comes to the area May 17-19, 2019.
Organized by Compete Magazine, a publication focused on LGBTQ sports, the inaugural sporting event chose Richmond—and presented it with an award—because of its status as an emerging LGBTQ sports tourism destination.
Representatives from the magazine’s Sports Diversity Leadership Council, a coalition of about 80 sports leaders representing more than 110,000 members, honored the region at the Petey Awards last fall. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Richmond Region Tourism staff members accepted the award at the annual event that honors the best in sports diversity and celebrates the magazine’s mission of “uniting the world through sports.”
The recognition from Compete Magazine comes on the heels of another important national designation. Richmond recently received a Municipal Equality Index score of 94 in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual report that rates cities on their efforts to support LGBTQ communities. The establishment of a Human Rights Commission and non-discrimination laws and offering transgender-inclusive benefits for city employees are among the initiatives that helped propel Richmond’s score, which sat at 42 in 2017.
A variety of factors are helping to fuel the public’s awareness and understanding of Richmond’s diverse LGBTQ community. Richmond Region Tourism—the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the region to meeting, convention and sports event planners, tour operators and leisure travelers—has been working to market the region to LGBTQ visitors for several years. The group launched OutRVA in 2014, a program that promotes the region as welcoming to LGBTQ travelers. An advisory committee of local LGBTQ business owners and volunteers helps guide the campaign.
“We all know the Richmond region is a great place for LGBTQ people to live and visit,” said Philip Crosby, Executive Director of the Richmond Triangle Players theatre and a founding OutRVA advisory committee member. “The committee gives an authentic voice to the campaign by highlighting and sharing what members of Richmond’s LGBTQ community enjoy most about the region.”
The committee meets every other month with Richmond Region Tourism staff to share opinions and helps guide the OutRVA initiative as it markets the region to travelers across the world. OutRVA has an LGBTQ travel guide and includes profiles of local residents sharing their favorite places and things to do at www.richmondisout.com.
The OutRVA campaign originally launched with coming out letters addressed to nearby cities and LGBTQ celebrities to promote the region as welcoming. The work, along with other efforts like the Out stickers seen around town, landed Richmond on the “Top 10 Destination” list by the NatWest British LGBT Awards.
“We’re working to promote the region as a welcoming place to all travelers,” said Katherine O’Donnell, Executive Vice President of Richmond Region Tourism. “We’re proud of Richmond’s recent accolades and look forward to introducing more travelers to Richmond through the OutRVA campaign.”