OUTstanding Virginians are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied individuals or organizations taking the lead in moving equality forward across the Commonwealth. In light of the importance of being out to the LGBT movement, each year Equality Virginia recognizes leaders who have represented the community with distinction.

Statistics show that knowing someone within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community increases support for LGBT rights. This positive correlation makes coming out a critical component of the LGBT movement’s future progress.

The EV Board of Directors has selected the 2018 honorees from dozens of nominees. These seven individuals and organizations were honored at our 15th Annual Commonwealth Dinner on April 14! Watch the video below to learn more about them!

Amy Adams is a mother of three whose daughter Morgan came out as transgender at the age of 10. Since then, Amy has worked to mobilize her Stafford County neighbors in opposition to discriminatory school policies and address anti-trans legislation with her representatives at the General Assembly. Amy started a He, She, Ze, and We group in Fredericksburg and runs a Facebook group for Virginia parents of transgender youth. Last year, Amy founded Equality Stafford which has successfully advocated for her county’s school board to form an Equality, Diversity, and Opportunity Committee and is helping the county update its nondiscrimination policies. Amy is currently leading a campaign to make sure all Stafford County schools have GSAs.
Michael Berlucchi serves on the Hampton Roads Pride Board of Directors as Immediate Past President and has fulfilled numerous leadership roles within the organization, including president, vice president, chairman of PrideFest, chairman and co-founder of the Pride Block Party, and chairman of the Events and Communications committees. Michael is the Community Engagement Manager at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, where he creates and implements educational programs designed to expand and diversify museum audiences. He is an appointed member of Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission and serves on the Board of Directors of Teens With a Purpose, and the Norfolk Tourism Research Foundation.
Rev. Emma Chattin became an ordained minister in MCC (Metropolitan Community Churches) in 2004, a denomination founded by and for the GLBTIQQ communities, and she currently serves as the Pastor for the MCC of Northern Virginia in Fairfax City. Emma is also the Executive Director of the TransGender Education Association of Greater Washington DC (TGEA) whose mission is to support individuals in transition and the communities into which they are transitioning. Rev. Chattin is founding co-facilitator of several support groups for the transgender population, among them, parents of trans-youth, and trans & gender-expansive tweens & teens.
Lisa Cumbey has given her marketing and design talents to groups serving the LGBT community since the 1980s. Her mostly pro bono creative work for organizations is estimated at over $1 million and includes work around HIV/AIDS educational materials, Richmond’s very earliest Pride parades on Cary Street, and the area’s first LGBT chamber of commerce—Central Virginia Business and Professional Guild, among others. She was part of the design and rebranding team for Diversity Richmond and was instrumental in creating their Iridian Gallery, the only art gallery in the south with the sole mission of supporting LGBT artists. The gallery recently featured the artwork of her late brother, J. Alan Cumbey, who died of AIDS in 1992. Lisa donated all proceeds from the sale of her brother’s work to Diversity Richmond.
Zakia McKensey is the founder of Nationz Foundation, a nonprofit providing HIV prevention and overall wellness education while inspiring the community to take responsibility for their health. Nationz also works to create a more inclusive Central Virginia for LGBTQIA+ individuals. As someone personally affected by HIV/AIDS—through the loss of friends and loved ones—she felt compelled to educate herself and others, and since then has operated in the field of HIV prevention and education. Zakia has also worked for 26 years as a performer, holding a total of 180 titles, including Miss Club Colors, Miss Fieldens, Miss Godfreys, and Miss Peach State International.
Jim O’Connor has been a resident of Prince William County since 1971 and has long been active in his community. He is the current president of Equality Prince William (EPW) which seeks to assure fair treatment for every individual in the county. The group successfully urged the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park recognize June as LGBT Pride Month. They also recruited over 40 new PWC businesses to participate in EV’s Equality Means Business program. Jim is an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and worked as Senior Director for International Trade Policy at the American Chemistry Council.
Richmond Triangle Players exists to change the community’s conversation about diversity and inclusion through the production of LGBTQ-themed works. A nonprofit, professional theatre company organized in 1993, RTP delivers adventurous and entertaining theater as the leading voice in the community’s explorations of equality, identity, affection, and family, across sexual orientation and gender and is the only professional theatre company in the entire Mid-Atlantic region which expressly and regularly serves the LGBTQ community.



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Click here to learn more last year’s OUTstanding Virginians



Meet other from honorees from previous years:



Meet 2016's OUTstanding Virginians ►
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Meet 2015's OUTstanding Virginians ►



Meet 2014's OUTstanding Virginians ►


Meet 2013's OUTstanding Virginians ►


Meet 2012's OUTstanding Virginians ►


Meet 2011's OUTstanding Virginians ►


Meet 2010's OUTstanding Virginians ►


Meet 2009's OUTstanding Virginians ►
  • Rita Mae Brown – Crozet-based screenwriter and author, most notably of “Rubyfruit Jungle”.
  • Clarence Cain – UVA Law School graduate whose life and death from HIV/AIDS inspired the 1993 film “Philadelphia”.
  • Meg Christian – Women’s music icon and founder of Olivia Records.
  • Marge Connelly – Financial industry executive.
  • Adam Ebbin – First openly gay member of Virginia’s General Assembly and founder of Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club.
  • Jay Fisette – First openly gay elected official in Virginia and Arlington County Board member.
  • Billy Haines – First openly gay Hollywood actor, during the silent movie era.
  • Claus Ihlemann – Norfolk activist and owner of Decorum Furniture.
  • Jon Klein – Founder of Diversity Thrift and Richmond Organization for Sexual Minority Youth (ROSMY).
  • Beth Marschak – Richmond activist, author, and historian.
  • Lucy Randolph Mason – Labor organizer who helped pass 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Diane Schroer – Winner of landmark transgender workplace discrimination case.
  • Tony Segura and Marsh Harris Segura – Tony was the founder of the Mattachine Society and Marsh was a prolific author of gay pulp fiction.
  • L.A. “Shep” Shepherd and Norma Hofheimer – Mid-century lesbian activist couple from Richmond.
  • Wanda Sykes – Emmy-award winning writer and comedian/actress.
  • Tracy Thorne-Begland – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell activist and Deputy Commonwealth Attorney of Richmond.
  • Lawrence Webb – First openly gay black elected official in Virginia and Falls Church City Council member.
  • Charles Whitebread – Former UVA law professor and LGBT philanthropist.
  • Mel White and Gary Nixon – Founders of Lynchburg-based Soulforce.
  • Bob Witeck – Northern Virginia business owner and LGBT media consultant.