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Sponsorship

 


Sponsorship

The 16th Annual Commonwealth Dinner is Equality Virginia’s signature annual event and Virginia’s largest black-tie gala for the Commonwealth’s LGBT community and its supporters. Each year, the Dinner has attracted over 1,000 guests and is promoted through electronic and print media to the many thousands of LGBT and straight ally Virginians living across the Commonwealth.

Your company’s 2019 sponsorship of the Dinner will ensure that your business is promoted to LGBT and allied individuals statewide. Being a Dinner sponsor is a great way to contribute to today’s important and historical movement towards equality—while opening the doors of your business to the large and loyal audience of LGBT and LGBT-friendly patrons.

For more information see our 2019 sponsorship packet or contact Morgan at [email protected] or call 804-643-4816.

Advertising

Advertising opportunities are also available.  The full-color Dinner program reaches one thousand influential guests.  You can download the Advertising Agreement here.

For more detailed information, e-mail Chris at [email protected] or call 804-643-4816

Ties Sponsors & Collaborators

TIES 2016

all-in-one-logos-for-ties

Thank You To Our Sponsors

April 2nd, 2013

More than 1,000 LGBT Virginians and supporters of equality joined this year’s 10th Annual Commonwealth Dinner.  Thank you to Altria, Weinstein Properties and all of our sponsors for making this year’s event possible!

Sponsorship

 


Sponsorship

The 15th Annual Commonwealth Dinner is Equality Virginia’s signature annual event and Virginia’s largest black-tie gala for the Commonwealth’s LGBT community and its supporters. Each year, the Dinner has attracted over 1,000 guests and is promoted through electronic and print media to the many thousands of LGBT and straight ally Virginians living across the Commonwealth.

Your company’s 2018 sponsorship of the Dinner will ensure that your business is promoted to LGBT and allied individuals statewide. Being a Dinner sponsor is a great way to contribute to today’s important and historical movement towards equality—while opening the doors of your business to the large and loyal audience of LGBT and LGBT-friendly patrons.

For more information see our 2018 sponsorship packet or contact Joseph at [email protected] or call 804-643-4816.

Advertising

Advertising opportunities are also available.  The full-color Dinner program reaches one thousand influential guests.  You can download the Advertising Agreement here.

For more detailed information, e-mail Chris at [email protected] or call 804-643-4816

Sponsor Legends

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PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS

PAST HONOREES

SPONSOR LEGENDS

 

Sponsor Legends 2014

The Legends Gala is Equality Virginia’s second largest annual event, which takes places in Hampton Roads for the community’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied supporters. In its eighth year, the Legends Gala continues to attract hundreds, and is promoted through print and electronic media to thousands of LGBT and straight ally Hampton Roads community members. As a sponsor of the Legends Gala, you ensure that members from the community recognize your support for LGBT Virginians.

We rely on the support of good and caring people like you in order for the Legends Gala to be a success. Without your support, Equality Virginia’s work would not be possible. Sponsorship of this year’s event will go a long way to make a difference for the LGBT community in Hampton Roads and all of Virginia.

Click here for the 2014 Sponsorship Package.

Platinum Sponsor | $3,000

  • 8 tickets with reserved table at VIP Dinner and entrance to the Main Event
  • Full page advertisement in the Legends Program
  • Recognition on Sponsor Poster at dinner entrance
  • Logo or name with link on Legends webpage until March 31, 2015
  • Company logo prominently featured on invitations, announcements, media ads, publicity and supplemental marketing announcing Legends sponsored event
  • Verbal recognition of sponsorship during VIP Dinner and Main Event

 

 Gold Sponsor | $2,000

  • 4 tickets with reserved priority seating at VIP Dinner and entrance to the Main Event
  • Half page advertisement in the Legends Program
  • Recognition on Sponsor Poster at dinner entrance
  • Logo or name on Legends webpage until March 31, 2015
  • Company logo on invitations, announcements, media ads, publicity and supplemental marketing announcing Legends sponsored event
  • Verbal recognition of sponsorship at the Main Event

 

Silver Sponsor | $1,000 

  • 2 tickets with reserved priority seating at VIP Dinner and entrance to the Main Event
  • Half page advertisement in the Legends Program
  • Recognition on Sponsor Poster at dinner entrance
  • Logo or name on Legends webpage until March 31, 2015
  • Company logo on invitations, announcements, media ads, publicity and supplemental marketing announcing Legends sponsored event

 

Patron Sponsor | $500 

  • 2 tickets with reserved priority seating at VIP Dinner and entrance to  the Main Event
  • Recognition at event
  • Name listing in Legends Program

 

For Sponsorship Opportunities, contact John Coleman at jcoleman@equalityvirginia.org | 804-643-4816

Robert Rigby

Robert Rigby

Robert Rigby

As an out gay teacher, Robert Rigby has made a name for himself nationally as an advocate for the rights of LGBT+ students and teachers in Fairfax County.  He has been instrumental in getting protections in place for LGBT students and staff in his district.  As President of the Fairfax County Public Schools Pride and a Latin teacher at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Robert has become a key organizer in galvanizing support among many interested constituencies in the fight for stronger protections for the LGBT+ student population in Fairfax County and beyond.  His work has led to better informed and equipped teachers, school staff, and community at large.

After growing up in Florida, Robert received his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth and later a Master in Education from Virginia Commonwealth University.  After stints teaching in central Virginia and New England, he began working for Fairfax County Public Schools in 1999; he was asked by a colleague to assume sponsorship of his school’s LGBT student group. At that time, there was only one Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in Fairfax country, and it required students to get parent’s permission to participate. He contacted the superintendent and a legal team and worked with the superintendent over nine months to change the policy so that such groups were treated equally. Along with others he then founded a DC-area GLSEN (a national education organization creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools) chapter that has since morphed into a GLSEN Northern Virginia.  Shortly thereafter GSAs began springing up across Fairfax.

He not only worked to raise the awareness and protection of marginalized students within the public school system but also extended his outreach to teachers.  This culminated in the creation of FCPS Pride, an official allied and LGBT countywide group that provides support to LGBT+ teachers; the employees have been joined in membership by many parents of LGBT students.  FCPS Pride “envisions a school system in which no one is discriminated against according to their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity/gender expression.”

Due in part to Robert’s efforts, there has been positive change to the LGBT+ discussion in the county, which has become more supportive and understanding of groups who had little to no representation before. In 2014-2015 sexual orientation and gender identity were added to the non-discrimination policy affecting staff and students, and the anti-bullying regulations. Robert hopes to see this trend continue, especially with FCPS developing detailed regulations for transgender students. Recently, Robert also coordinated a grassroots movement involving Equality Virginia, TGEA, PFLAG, GLSEN, NOVA Pride, the FEA and FCPS Pride to advocate for LGBT+ students, staff, and faculty within the FCPS school district. He continues as co-sponsor of what is now called the Gender identity and Sexual Orientation Alliance at West Potomac.

Robert is honored to be an OUTstanding Virginian this year and looks to a future where students at all levels across the state can attend a school where they are valued and treated with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. He believes that Virginia can operate under an educational system where all students have a safe and affirming school environment where they can learn and grow.

Jim O’Connor

Jim O’Connor

Elector, Free Trade Champion

Jim O’Connor’s is at once a world traveler and a fixture of his local community, Prince William County, Virginia, where he has lived since 1971.

He was “born in the Okeefenokee Swamp,” as he likes to say, referring to an Air Force base near Valdosta, Georgia, where his father, a career airman was stationed. But Jim didn’t stay swamp-bound for long. By the time he was a teenager, he had lived in Japan, Germany, and Tampa, Florida. He also acquired a deep interest in chemistry and decided early on to become a chemist. While a student at the University of South Florida, he spent a term as an intern in Washington, DC, testing vitamins for the Food and Drug Administration. Besides nearly blowing up his laboratory (“my first explosion,” he says), he found the other abiding interest of his life: politics. “DC in 1965 was an amazing place,” he says. Determined to come back, he took a job after college at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), evaluating the truthfulness of cigarette manufacturers’ claims.

The end of the sixties found him in Vietnam as a newly minted second lieutenant. Wounded in an attack on his compound, Jim returned home to his FTC job and his wife. They had two children and bought a house in a brand-new subdivision outside of Washington in Prince William County. Jim still lives in that house amid trees that have since grown to be 80 feet high.

By the late seventies, Jim was working for a trade association, the American Chemistry Council, negotiating international trade agreements and advising governments on how to make their industries more competitive. His work took him to every country in Western Europe and every continent except Australia and Antarctica.  As the council’s Senior Director for International Trade, he spent three months of each year in Geneva with the World Trade Organization, and negotiated the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Mexico City. Before going to a new foreign city, he had a routine. He’d go to a map store on Farragut Square in Washington and buy a detailed map to study. Once in-country, he’d tune into the local radio stations and start to pick up the rhythms of the language.

When he was back in Northern Virginia, Jim was active in civic organizations. In the mid-seventies, he was president of the Greater Manassas Jaycees, winning a prestigious award from them. He served on the county’s Park Authority Board and on the Committee of 100, a group that presented forums on current issues throughout the county. He was also active in the Presbyterian Church.

In 2002, Sharon, Jim’s wife of 35 years passed away, and in 2005, he retired from the American Chemistry Council. “I didn’t leap out of the closet, but I drifted out” after those milestones, says Jim. He met his partner Hank, a retiree from government service who is active on the dog show circuit.

Jim also became active in politics. In 2006, in response to former Prince William County Delegate Bob Marshall’s successful “Marriage Amendment” banning same-sex unions, Jim helped to found Equality Prince William (EPW) to change attitudes and “show LGBT people in our county that they are not alone.” EPW has had a booth at the annual NOVA Pride festival since it began in 2014. The organization is going strong after nine years with Jim as its current president. The Northern Virginia organization AGLA recognized EPW with an Equality Award, and last year EPW persuaded mayors of Manassas and Manassas Park to declare June Pride Month. EPW was also instrumental in getting over 40 businesses in Greater Prince William to participate in Equality Virginia’s Equality Means Business program.

Jim’s involvement with the Democratic Party has deepened over the years. He is currently active in the Democratic Committee at both the local and state level and was one of Virginia’s 13 Electors for the 2016 Presidential Election. He and Hank host an annual holiday party for Northern Virginia’s Democratic delegates. “We want to make sure they know we have their back,” Jim says. During the legislative session, EPW helps them hold town halls for their constituents.

Despite setbacks in the 2018 legislative session, Jim looks forward to brighter prospects for both the party and LGBT causes in Virginia. He tells an anecdote that illustrates change and progress in spite of adversity. In late 2016, when the Democratic electors needed a room in the Capitol for their post-election meeting, they were denied use of the House of Delegates chamber and instead had to use the Senate. Jim found himself seated at the desk of Senator Stephen Newman, co-sponsor with Bob Marshall of the Marriage Amendment. The amendment had been declared unconstitutional in 2014, and the seat of its proponent was now being used to ratify Virginia’s support of Hillary Clinton.

Jay Timmons

OUTstanding Virginians 2019

Jay Timmons

CEO, Advocate, Father

Jay Timmons

Jay Timmons sees a lot of America. When he sat down for our interview, he had just returned to Northern Virginia from a two-week, eight-state tour as CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Encountering so many people in so many places gives him many opportunities to think deeply about what makes the nation exceptional.

For Jay, America’s character and promise rests on four pillars: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty, and equal opportunity.  Jay is hopeful a leader will emerge who will embrace all four pillars. “Then we can productively keep our differences focused on policy issues,” Jay says, and policy is the area where Jay has chosen to make his mark on the world. As head of NAM, he is a leading advocate for the more than 12 million men and women who make things in America, educating the public and policymakers on issues that affect this critical sector of the U.S. economy.

Jay saw first-hand how American industry raised the standard of living in his hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio, where his grandfather worked at a Mead paper plant. However politics, not business, proved to be his inspiration. He left Ohio State in 1983 to join the Reagan revolution and soon found himself in Washington working as a congressional press secretary. From 1991 to 2002, he served as chief of staff to George Allen during Allen’s terms as congressman, governor of Virginia, and senator. Jay led the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2004 election cycle before joining NAM as policy director.

For most of his time in politics, Jay was living openly in a committed relationship with Rick Olson, a corporate lobbyist, now his husband. They kept their relationship private until 2004, when Jay was outed against his will. In this act, Jay saw an opportunity “to show how it’s possible to live authentically as a gay man and a conservative republican.” As Jay puts it, “We’ve been married in our eyes for 28 years and in the eyes of the law for 10 and a half,” since getting married in California in 2008.

Soon after they married, Jay and Rick decided that they wanted to start a family. Adoption would have been the logical path, but adoption by same-sex couples was nearly impossible in Virginia. So they took the alternative route of surrogacy. Through a California surrogate, Jay and Rick welcomed two daughters into their family.

In 2013, an unexpected opportunity presented itself. A couple in Virginia, who was unable to conceive, asked Jay and Rick to accept an extra viable embryo of theirs that had been frozen for 13 years.  So, they researched various state laws and then found a surrogate in Wisconsin to carry for them. A judge gave them interim parental rights. “Everything came right together,” Jay says.

And then everything fell apart.  A second judge suspended those rights shortly before baby Jacob was born in 2015.  Everyone involved in this uncontested case wanted Jay and Rick to be Jacob’s parents, but this new judge appointed a guardian to determine the child’s “best interests”.

A ten-month court battle ensued. Although the judge did not take Jacob away physically, the family endured nearly a year with no legal status. “Every night, one of us would wake up in a panic, scared to death that the next morning someone would come knocking on the door to take Jacob from us and his sisters,” Jay recalls.

The unthinkable occurred in 2016 when the judge finally took away Jay and Rick’s parental rights and deliberately left Jacob an orphan and a ward of the state.  In his ruling, he declared surrogacy to be human trafficking. “We were branded as human traffickers,” Jay says.

And then the nightmare ended as suddenly as it began. The judge abruptly resigned his office, and his replacement restored Jay and Rick’s parental rights, annulling Jacob’s status as a legal orphan.  The worst times were over.

That could be the end of the story but it isn’t. Mindful of what can happen in the absence of clear policy, Jay and Rick pushed for legislation ensuring the right of same-sex couples in Virginia to become legally recognized parents through surrogacy. Sponsored by Delegate Rip Sullivan (D), the bill, known as Jacob’s Law, passed in the General Assembly this session with strong bipartisan support. Governor Northam signed it into law on March 14.

And here the interview comes full circle. For Jay, the fact that democrats and republicans saw different things to like about the bill confirms the possibility of finding common ground. “It would have been easy for republicans to dismiss Jacob’s Law as an ‘LGBT bill’ and for democrats to dismiss it as a ‘pro-life bill,’” he says, “but by talking about the heartache, expense, and discrimination we experienced and how all that could have been avoided, we showed this bill would make Virginia a better place to live.” Jay believes the American people can come together politically when leaders propose “real solutions for real problems.”

For Jay’s daughters (C.J., age 9, and Ellie, 7) the issues are less abstract. During their dads’ campaign to pass Jacob’s Law, they heard the details of what happened nearly four years ago. After some emotion and a lot of questions, Jay reports, they thought about what the new law means. “They’re happy to have had a role in keeping families like their own together,” he says.

Reverend Lacette Cross

OUTstanding Virginians 2019

 

Reverend Lacette Cross

Baptist Minister, Community Organizer, Sex Educator

Reverend Lacette Cross

Lacette Cross – known in the community as “Rev. L” – sometimes struggles with the complexities of representation.  A black, bisexual, ordained Baptist minister living in the South, she co-founded and leads Us Giving Richmond Connections (UGRC), which sponsored Virginia’s first Black Pride weekend last year and is rapidly becoming a core institution in the black queer community.  She is a “force for good…determined to create a world that allows all people to be their authentic selves,” as one of her nominators wrote. Yet she says when people see that the face of Black Pride RVA is a forty-three-year-old faith leader they make assumptions.  This doesn’t worry her, though, because she knows her work in the community will show even skeptics that she “gets it.”

 

“I always wanted to be the black Dr. Ruth,” she says. “Now I’m doing work around sex, faith, and identity.”  It took some soul-searching to reach that intersection, however. Her path to becoming Rev. L began when she was a young preacher in a conservative-fundamentalist church working as a youth minister. “I was coming into my woman-loving self,” she recounts, “and privately questioning whether I could still love women and God too.”  The tension proved untenable when a young person came out as lesbian. “I had to ask myself if I could look this person in the eye and say ‘you’re going to hell,’ which was the party line.”

 

Lacette couldn’t, and two important outcomes flowed from that decision. First, the young person found the courage to be their authentic self and later to embrace his true identity as a man. Second, Lacette decided to continue her ministry in a more affirming religious environment. The two have since stayed connected. “He got married in Minnesota and I fully supported his wedding,” Lacette recounts. “It was so important to let him know how integral our conversation was to who I am today and why I stand where I stand.”

 

Now newly transplanted in Richmond, Lacette attended events throughout the LGBTQ community to get a feel for the atmosphere and how she might fit in. Quite quickly, she realized there was a racial disparity in who was leading, planning and speaking at community events.

 

To think through a solution, Lacette decided to literally give black leaders in the LGBTQ community a seat at the table in the form of a conversation over dinner. “We didn’t know what it would turn into,” she recalls; “we had a choice of more complaining over drinks or organizing to create the space we’d been asking for.” This came at a time where other justice groups in the city had been advocating for POC space at Pride events to no avail.  After the dinner meeting, the group announced the inaugural Black Pride weekend. The July 2018 event, organized by just eight people, was the first in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.  With over 500 people attending the weekend of events, it was clear that Black Pride RVA was a success.

 

The newly founded organization quickly evolved into a non-profit with a mission to support “the health and wellness of Black LGBTQ persons of the Greater Richmond area.” Aware of how social isolation negatively impacts health outcomes, Lacette and the team instituted a monthly social event, Third Thursdays, which brings in a diverse cross-section of the community. She is adding an educational component to UGRC’s activities, with opportunities to learn about financial literacy, health screenings, and aging with dignity. Under her leadership, she is forging ties with other local organizations, such as Nationz Foundation, VA Pride, Diversity Richmond, Side by Side and the Virginia Anti-Violence Project.

 

With help from affirming community institutions such as the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, Lacette is exploring the possibility of UGRC securing a physical space for black LGBTQ persons to access health information.  She is especially interested in using this space to serve the most marginalized members of the black LGBTQ communities. “I want there to be none of the worries that people have in other places: will they misgender me; will they adequately help me; will they discriminate on religious grounds?”

 

As if these initiatives and her work as the Volunteers and Outreach Director of Side by Side aren’t enough, Lacette also serves as the pastor of Restoration Fellowship RVA (RFRVA), founded in 2016 with a mission to “do church differently by showing love, restoring hope and serving others.” “Our church is very much creating a community-centered faith space where healing can happen,” she says. “We aim to restore hope in a city where churches are known for hurting LGBTQ persons rather than helping. We must overcome the message that ‘God doesn’t love you.’”

 

The church offers real-life bible study, creative worship through African dancing, and sex-positive community conversations. It is also committed to solving tough issues outside its doors. For instance, it partners with local organizations to collect sanitary products for women in jail who are given inadequate supplies and even supports Caravan refugees from Central America. With their newest program, Life Skills University, RFRVA is providing workshops and community meals for LGBTQ+ young adults, 19-35.  Rev. L says watching her congregation find purpose in serving others is one of the best parts of her job. “It is a joy to be a pastor to individuals coming into their own sense of self.”

 

 

Celebrate our victories this year and honor the 2019 OUTstanding Virginians by joining us at this year’s Commonwealth Dinner!

Reverend Lacette Cross

OUTstanding Virginians 2019

 

Reverend Lacette Cross

Reverend, Community Organizer, Sex Educator

Reverend Lacette Cross

Lacette Cross – known in the community as “Rev. L” – sometimes struggles with the complexities of representation.  A black, bisexual, ordained Baptist minister living in the South, she co-founded and leads Us Giving Richmond Connections (UGRC), which sponsored Virginia’s first Black Pride weekend last year and is rapidly becoming a core institution in the black queer community.  She is a “force for good…determined to create a world that allows all people to be their authentic selves,” as one of her nominators wrote. Yet she says when people see that the face of Black Pride RVA is a forty-three-year-old faith leader they make assumptions.  This doesn’t worry her, though, because she knows her work in the community will show even skeptics that she “gets it.”

“I always wanted to be the black Dr. Ruth,” she says. “Now I’m doing work around sex, faith, and identity.”  It took some soul-searching to reach that intersection, however. Her path to becoming Rev. L began when she was a young preacher in a conservative-fundamentalist church working as a youth minister. “I was coming into my woman-loving self,” she recounts, “and privately questioning whether I could still love women and God too.”  The tension proved untenable when a young person came out as lesbian. “I had to ask myself if I could look this person in the eye and say ‘you’re going to hell,’ which was the party line.”

Lacette couldn’t, and two important outcomes flowed from that decision. First, the young person found the courage to be their authentic self and later to embrace his true identity as a man. Second, Lacette decided to continue her ministry in a more affirming religious environment. The two have since stayed connected. “He got married in Minnesota and I fully supported his wedding,” Lacette recounts. “It was so important to let him know how integral our conversation was to who I am today and why I stand where I stand.”

Now newly transplanted in Richmond, Lacette attended events throughout the LGBTQ community to get a feel for the atmosphere and how she might fit in. Quite quickly, she realized there was a racial disparity in who was leading, planning and speaking at community events.

To think through a solution, Lacette decided to literally give black leaders in the LGBTQ community a seat at the table in the form of a conversation over dinner. “We didn’t know what it would turn into,” she recalls; “we had a choice of more complaining over drinks or organizing to create the space we’d been asking for.” This came at a time where other justice groups in the city had been advocating for POC space at Pride events to no avail.  After the dinner meeting, the group announced the inaugural Black Pride weekend. The July 2018 event, organized by just eight people, was the first in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.  With over 500 people attending the weekend of events, it was clear that Black Pride RVA was a success.

The newly founded organization quickly evolved into a non-profit with a mission to support “the health and wellness of Black LGBTQ persons of the Greater Richmond area.” Aware of how social isolation negatively impacts health outcomes, Lacette and the team instituted a monthly social event, Third Thursdays, which brings in a diverse cross-section of the community. She is adding an educational component to UGRC’s activities, with opportunities to learn about financial literacy, health screenings, and aging with dignity. Under her leadership, she is forging ties with other local organizations, such as Nationz Foundation, VA Pride, Diversity Richmond, Side by Side and the Virginia Anti-Violence Project.

With help from affirming community institutions such as the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, Lacette is exploring the possibility of UGRC securing a physical space for black LGBTQ persons to access health information.  She is especially interested in using this space to serve the most marginalized members of the black LGBTQ communities. “I want there to be none of the worries that people have in other places: will they misgender me; will they adequately help me; will they discriminate on religious grounds?”

As if these initiatives and her work as the Volunteers and Outreach Director of Side by Side aren’t enough, Lacette also serves as the pastor of Restoration Fellowship RVA (RFRVA), founded in 2016 with a mission to “do church differently by showing love, restoring hope and serving others.” “Our church is very much creating a community-centered faith space where healing can happen,” she says. “We aim to restore hope in a city where churches are known for hurting LGBTQ persons rather than helping. We must overcome the message that ‘God doesn’t love you.’”

The church offers real-life bible study, creative worship through African dancing, and sex-positive community conversations. It is also committed to solving tough issues outside its doors. For instance, it partners with local organizations to collect sanitary products for women in jail who are given inadequate supplies and even supports Caravan refugees from Central America. With their newest program, Life Skills University, RFRVA is providing workshops and community meals for LGBTQ+ young adults, 19-35.  Rev. L says watching her congregation find purpose in serving others is one of the best parts of her job. “It is a joy to be a pastor to individuals coming into their own sense of self.”