Calling all Sponsors and Vendors! Now Accepting Applications for PrideFest 2015!

Calling all Sponsors and Vendors!

Now Accepting Applications for PrideFest 2015!

Last year, PrideFest nearly doubled in size, growing to an estimated 18,000 participants, and moving to Brown's Island, Richmond's premiere festival property!  The 2015 PrideFest was also the first to have a sitting Virginia Governor speak! We introduced exciting new elements, like the RVA Youth Pride stage, and returned to our RVA roots with fantastic local entertainment!

Once you've reviewed the 2015 Sponsor/Vendor Prospectus, you may submit your form via fax, email or mail - or sign up online!  There are also opportunities to purchase advertisements in the Pride Guide, on our website and in our newsletters!

Space on Brown's Island is limited; don't miss this unique opportunity to showcase your business or organization to the LGBTQ community of Virginia and its allies!  See you in September!

With Pride,

Richard Gordon, Director of Development

PrideFest 2015 Custom Beer Competition - Voting Begins at 12:00am March 1st!

Vote for your favorite style of beer for the PrideFest 2015 Custom Brew!

Wild Wolf Brewing Company (Nellysford, VA) is brewing the official beer for PrideFest 2015, and we want you to participate in selecting the style, name and logo!  Read more about the partnership here.

From March 1 through March 15th, Virginia Pride invites you to select the style of the PrideFest brew and suggest a name!  The style with the most votes wins!  

Once the style is selected, we'll select our five favorite names submitted in that category and have another vote to select the official name!  A logo competition will follow, so spread the word with all your fabulous artist friends, or give it a go yourself!

The people who submit the winning name and logo will be invited to grab a friend and join representatives of Virginia Pride on a tour of Wild Wolf Brewery and assist us in the brewing process - transportation, lunch, and libations courtesy of Wild Wolf Brewery and Loveland Distributing Company!

Virginia Pride Announces Wild Wolf Brewing Company to Craft Custom Beer for PrideFest 2015

Virginia Pride Announces Wild Wolf Brewing Company to Craft Custom Beer for PrideFest 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Virginia Pride Announces Wild Wolf Brewing Company to Craft Custom Beer for PrideFest 2015, asks Community to Select Variety, Name and Logo.

Wild Wolf Brewing Company is teaming up with Virginia Pride to craft a special beer for PrideFest 2015. Virginia Pride will poll the community to select the variety, name and logo for the custom brew.

Richmond, VA - February 20, 2015  

Wild Wolf Brewing Company (Nellysford, VA) is brewing the official beer of this year's PrideFest, hosted by Virginia Pride, to be held on Saturday, September 12, 2015, at Brown's Island in Richmond.

Virginia Pride has narrowed the options for the brew down to four varieties, and requests the community's participation in selecting - and naming - between them: Sessionable Saison, Pilsner, Belgian ale fermented with fresh fruit, or summer spiced Hefeweizen.  Voting will take place from March 1-15 on the Virginia Pride website.  

“We believe beer unites, and we are privileged to be associated in support of this event.”

"Wild Wolf is stoked to be supporting Virginia Pride through this exciting partnership. This collaboration supports our belief that anyone can come together to produce an amazing union." said Damian Warshall, Director of Business Operations at Wild Wolf Brewing Co., "We believe beer unites, and we are privileged to be associated in support of this event."

Once the style has been selected, the community will be given the opportunity to submit name and logo suggestions for the winning variety.  Finally, Virginia Pride will request feedback to determine the winning combination.  Winners will be invited to join Virginia Pride in an exclusive experience at the Wild Wolf Brewery, and receive recognition from Virginia Pride before and during the festival.

The brew will be available at PrideFest 2015 and in Richmond area restaurants.

About Wild Wolf Brewing Company:

Wild Wolf Brewing Company is one of just a few mother son breweries in the country. The 6000+ square foot facility is located on ten acres in the heart of Nellysford, VA. The property features a brewpub, housed in a 105-year-old renovated school house, a new building housing the brewery and pub, as well as five tobacco barns which have beenconverted into an events hall. Brewmaster Danny Wolf is constantly working with his team to create fresh batches of Blonde Hunny, and a variety of innovative seasonal and specialty beers.

Contact: Damian Warshall, or 202-271-3256

About Virginia Pride:

Virginia Pride is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving the LGBTQ community of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Founded in the 1970's, its mission is to instill pride, celebrate unity, embrace diversity, and improve the lives of LGBTQ Virginians by creating visibility and promoting full human and civil rights through education, networking, and celebrations.  Held for over 40 years, the annual PrideFest in Richmond is the oldest in the state, with over 10,000 in attendance from all over the southeastern United States.

Contact: Brian Reach, Interim President and Marketing Chair, or 703-506-2893

Virginia Pride Announces Date and Location for PrideFest 2015

VA Pride to hold its 2015 PrideFest on Brown's Island in Richmond on Saturday, September 12

Richmond, VA (PRWEB) February 13, 2015

Virginia Pride (VA Pride) is proud to announce that this year's annual PrideFest will be held at Brown's Island in Richmond, VA on Saturday, September 12, 2015.

Virginia Pride was founded by a group of loyal and active community members in the mid-70's, with a goal to bring awareness of the community, promote diversity and enable unity among the Richmond LGBTQ community members. Today, Virginia Pride's scope is statewide, and its annual PrideFest, which began as a small community event at the Farmer's Market, has evolved into a 10,000+ person celebration of the Commonwealth's vibrant LGBTQ community and its allies.

We saw an opportunity to grow the event in 2014, and we’re already seeing PrideFest 2015 shaping up to be an even more incredible event for the LGBTQ community of the Commonwealth and its allies.

This is the second year that PrideFest will be held on Brown's Island, allowing the event to accomodate the growing demand for capacity. PrideFest, as always, is family-friendly, free and open to the general public, regardless of how you identify. RVA Youth Pride, which began in 2014 with the move to Brown's Island, will coincide with PrideFest and feature a youth and family-focused lineup of entertainment.

"We are so excited to bring PrideFest back to Brown's Island in 2015." said Vice President Brian Reach, who also chairs Virginia Pride's Marketing Committee. "We saw an opportunity to grow the event in 2014, and we're already seeing PrideFest 2015 shaping up to be an even more incredible event for the LGBTQ community of the Commonwealth and its allies."

Interested volunteers are encouraged to contact, or visit Companies and organizations interested in sponsoring Virginia Pride, becoming a vendor at PrideFest, or otherwise showcasing their business's commitment to diversity and inclusion are encouraged to contact and, respectively. A sponsor/vendor prospectus detailing vendor rates and the levels of sponsorship available will be released in March and posted on the Virginia Pride website.

For more information about PrideFest, to make a donation, keep up with Virginia Pride's year-round activity, or learn more about the organization and how you can participate, visit the Virginia Pride website and join our mailing list at

Virginia Pride is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All donations to Virginia Pride are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.


“No means no.” We’ve all heard it, and generally, we can all agree on it. If someone says “no,” we don’t. If they say “stop,” we stop. If they say, “not now,” we wait.

Image retrieved from here

Image retrieved from here

But what if they are all over you, but you know they have been drinking all evening? What if things are getting hot and heavy for you, but you notice they are silent and staring blankly into space? What if you’ve hooked up with them before, but they say they only want to make out tonight?

You may be asking yourself, “How the heck do I navigate these blurred lines?” [We’ll save the Robin Thicke discussion for another blog post.] Perhaps it seems a little more muddled than simply listening for a no. The absence of no, however, is not the same as a [sober and enthusiastic] yes.

Image retrieved from here

Image retrieved from here

So what is consent, anyway?

In a word, consent is yes. Yes can look, sound or feel different for everyone, and it isn’t always in response to a question. Yes could include, “Please, baby, f*%& me now.”  Yes could be an excited squeal or moan.

Consent is a choice. It is not something given due to manipulation, threats, or coercion. It doesn’t involve pressure or lies. Consent is knowing, voluntary, and informed. It can only be given when everyone involved is in a clear state of mind, not under the influence of drugs or alcohol or incapacitated in any other way. Heather Corinna at Scarleteen tells us that willingly and freely choosing does not include being in a situation where others involved have or have had, in our history with them, radically more power than we have and/or has not used that power to influence or guide our sexual choices... It means we feel able to say and accept yes, no, or maybe without fear, and that our limits and boundaries are completely respected.

Consent is a process. It can be given or taken at any time. It is not simply something we do or give once; it is an ongoing conversation. If someone consented to a sexual activity before, it does not mean that they have eternally consented to all current and future activity.It can always be revoked, even if someone already said yes, even if your partner is about to climax. If you and I are friends and you let me borrow your hat, that doesn’t mean I can just walk into your home and take it whenever I feel like wearing it. It doesn’t mean I can snatch it off of your head just because I saw you let another friend borrow it. And if you decided you were cold and wanted your hat back, you would probably think I was pretty disrespectful if I refused to give it back to you, ignored you, or said “Are you kidding me? You just told me I could use it!”

Yes Means Yes: Enthusiastic Consent

Respecting no is non-negotiable. But waiting for no leaves the onus on someone to stop the momentum. By seeking a yes, we’re changing the equation entirely. In fact, consent is much more than just yes or no. It’s a conversation that moves beyond a list of close-ended “yes or no” questions.

We can call this seeking enthusiastic consent. The Good Men Project puts it simply: Consider the difference between “Baby, please, f**k me now!” and “I guess… whatever.”
You might be thinking to yourself, “So, what, do I have to ask before everything I do in a sexual encounter? I don’t want to ruin the mood…”

I get it. Media, pornography, and our society teach us that sex is supposed to be hot, steamy, sexy… two people are just overcome with passion and rip each others’ clothes off and fall into bed for a perfect night of slow-motion love making complete with a soundtrack.

This, of course, is not reality. Sex involves communication. Sex is rarely perfect [in fact, it’s sometimes pretty awkward]. And there’s rarely a perfect soundtrack. Sex is more like a jam session. In a jam sesh, you get together with other musicians and watch, listen, and feel one anothers’ music in attempts to achieve a harmonious collaboration. Sometimes jam sessions can be magical, while others are just “meh.” The bottom line is that sex, like a jam session, involves open communication, being present, and collaborating with all other parties involved.

Thomas Macaulay Millar writes in the anthology Yes Means Yes! (eds. Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti, 2008) that we should shift from a commodity model of sex, which assumes one person has something to give up and the other is there for the taking, to a performance model of sex. The performance model, says Millar, is centered on collaboration:

Who picks up a guitar and jams with a bassist who just stands there? Who dances with a partner who is just standing and staring? In the absence of affirmative participation, there is no collaboration (p. 38).

A classical musician will jam differently than a musician rooted in hip hop, but that doesn’t mean they can’t collaborate and jam to produce a beautiful masterpiece. Maybe that masterpiece will seem odd to a blues musician, and that’s okay too: the blues musician can jam with different musicians to produce whatever they want.

Image retrieved from here

Image retrieved from here

Let’s Talk about Sex, Baby

So, this is all fine and dandy in theory, but how do we actually put these principles into action in our everyday lives? Here are some tips:

  • Ask open-ended questions. What are you into? What turns you on? What is something you would like to try? What about X turns you on? Where do you want my hands on your body? What is off limits?
  • Try a Yes, No, or Maybe Chart. You can start with these basics compiled by The Good Men Project. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Customize your own chart or explore some kinkier options. [Oh, and speaking of… SM is not abuse.] Consider your yes, no, and maybe’s on your own, then open the conversation up with partners.
  • Check in. Checking in is important during any hookup, and especially if any party has experienced any sort of abuse in the past. The Consensual Project reminds us that checking in not only ensures the safety and presence of all parties involved, but it can also be erotic!

Checking in with your partner during a hookup allows people to express pleasure, express discomfort, change their minds, suggest new things, say yes, say no, or anything else. Check-ins are great way to stay present in the hook up. It can be as simple and sexy as an open ended question or as personal and intimate as “how are you feeling?”
If you have additional questions related to consent or sexual violence within the LGBTQ community, please call the Virginia LGBTQ Partner abuse & Sexual Assault Helpline at 1.866.356.6998 (m-f, 8am-8pm). The Helpline provides a free and confidential telephone service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer or questioning callers looking for information or help regarding intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, and stalking.

Kaylin Tingle works as an LGBTQ Violence Prevention Health Educator at VCU, and is a member of the Richmond Area Partnership (RAP). Richmond Area Partnership (RAP),is a local initiative charged with assessing services available, identifying gaps in services and strengthening assistance available to LGBTQ-identified persons impacted by sexual and domestic violence. The group is also examining the impact of culture, especially Southern culture, on the experience of victimization and healing for LGBTQ-identified individuals.

June is National LGBT Pride Month

June is National LGBT Pride month, and we have much to celebrate.  Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia and laws banning gay marriage have been struck down by federal judges more than a dozen times since January. The Defense of Marriage Act is history.  Last month, President Obama issued his fifth consecutive proclamation declaring June "National LGBT Pride Month" and just last week announced he would sign an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors.  

Proclamation by Governor Terry McAuliffe of June 2014 as LGBT Month in the Commonwealth of Virginia

Proclamation by Governor Terry McAuliffe of June 2014 as LGBT Month in the Commonwealth of Virginia

Closer to home, in his first official act as Governor, Terry McAuliffe, banned workplace discrimination against LGBT state employees and recently became the first Governor in history to issue a proclamation declaring June as LGBT Pride month in the Commonwealth.   Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.  

There's no question that the wheels of progress are turning for the LGBT community, nationally and locally.  For many LGBT Americans, today is better than yesterday.   But as we revel in our successes with Pride celebrations in big cities around the country and prepare for our own in Virginia, it is important that we understand how we got to this point and acknowledge the work of those who came before us.  

The first LGBT Pride March was held in New York City on Sunday , June 29, 1970 to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots which ensued following a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, an underground gay bar in Greenwich Village, the year before.  That night, fed up with being oppressed and harassed by law enforcement, the patrons of the bar--many of whom were drag queens--fought back against police with acts of violence and disobedience.

LGBT community leaders in New York seized on the Stonewall riots as a watershed moment and sought to transfer the anger and energy released by the raid into a powerful movement for equality and justice for LGBT people.  Beginning in January of 1970, a small group of volunteers, led by a bisexual woman named Brenda Howard (considered by many to be the "Mother of Pride") began planning for a massive political march in New York to mark the anniversary of Stonewall.  

On the last Sunday of June, 1970, despite threats of violence against them and damage to their personal and professional reputations, thousands of LGBT people took to the streets of Manhattan, with crowds stretching for 15 blocks or more, to march for equality.  Similar events were held  in other major cities, including Chicago and San Francisco.  LGBT Pride was born.  

Today, LGBT Pride festivals and parades typically have a more party-like atmosphere and attract people from every spectrum of the rainbow.  And while today, we have much to celebrate in terms of our progress towards equality, we still have much work to do.  

A few years ago, the New York Times profiled a woman named Storme (pronounced Storm-e) DeLarvarie, who was among the patrons at the Stonewall Inn that fateful June night.  She died earlier this month at the age of 91, having lived a long life of protecting patrons as a bouncer in lesbian bars in New York.  In the article, when asked what she hoped for the hundreds of thousands of people attending LGBT Pride in New York, she replied, simply, "Just be themselves, like they've always been. They don't have to pretend anything.  They are who they are."  Thanks to her and countless others who've come before us, we can be ourselves.  We don't have to pretend.  And we can be who we are.

Forty-five years after Stonewall, we have much of which we can and should be proud. 

-James R. Millner II

James Millner is a Richmond transplant, having lived most of his adult life in Washington, DC and New York.  Over the last twenty years, he has worked with and for dozens of LGBT organizations to develop strategic plans, social marketing campaign and communications programs.