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.

Nominations for the 2018 OUTstanding Virginians have been closed and the honorees will be announced in early 2018. Below are the honorees for 2017.


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Click here to see the video about the 2017 OUTstanding Virginians

The 2017 OUTstanding Virginians are …

Lisa Griffin, Richmond: Dr. Griffin has dramatically changed the landscape for transgender people, and in particular transgender youth in Virginia. Since moving to Richmond in 2012, Dr. Griffin has worked to increase mental health and general healthcare for transgender people throughout the state. She helped to broaden services for transgender people at Health Brigade, Planned Parenthood, Department of Health, UVA Medical Center, VCU, VSU, JMU, and William & Mary, and she has provided training for high school faculty. She teaches courses on LGBTQ+ identities at VCU and is a clinician at Side by Side.

Gavin Grimm, Gloucester: Gavin is a senior at Gloucester High School in Virginia and is nationally known as the plaintiff in GG v Gloucester County, a leading case on the civil rights of transgender students in public schools that will soon be heard at the United States Supreme Court. Gavin never sought the spotlight for an act as simple as using the restroom, but through his persistence, Gavin has shone a light on the needs of transgender students in our schools.

Michael Hamar, Norfolk: Michael is an ardent advocate for LGBT rights locally and throughout the state. He writes an internationally read blog on political and LGBT issues, and articles for Veer and Unity magazines, and supports many LGBT and progressive political organizations and leaders. In 2005 after Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast, he worked to find safe housing and support in Virginia for LGBT residents who lost their homes. He also created an endowment in his late parent’s names to help LGBT students attend college.

Victoria Kidd, Winchester: Victoria led the charge for marriage equality in the Commonwealth as one of the plaintiffs in the Virginia marriage case. A longtime supporter of EV, she has greatly helped our outreach efforts in Winchester, hosting CookOUTS for Marriage Equality, and advocating at our Day of Action. In the past year, she co-founded the Hideaway Café in downtown Winchester which has become the hub of the LGBT community. She serves on the board of the Virginia ACLU.

Rep. Donald McEachin, Richmond: A newly elected U.S. Congressman, McEachin was a leader on LGBT issues and a wonderful ally, connecting the faith and African-American communities with LGBT causes during his time as a state senator. While serving in the Virginia General Assembly, he was a tireless advocate for LGBT Virginians, repeatedly introduced the State Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and championed additional legislation that sought to better our community.

Robert Rigby, Arlington: In his role as president of the Fairfax County Public School Pride and a veteran Latin teacher at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Robert has been instrumental in getting protections in place for LGBT students in his district. He started a grassroots movement involving Equality Virginia, TGEA, PFLAG, GLSEN, NOVA Pride, and FCPS Pride to support LGBTQ students, staff, and faculty within the FCPS school district.

De Sube, Virginia Beach: De has been a longtime trans activist in the Hampton Roads area for over 20 years. In addition to her former role as the LGBT Center Coordinator at ACCESS AIDS Care, she co-founded two groups: Gender Expression Movement, a support group for trans adults in the southeast area, and the Transgender Assistance Project, whose mission is to offer safe emergency and temporary housing for transgender community members throughout Virginia.


Meet other from honorees from previous years:



Meet 2016's OUTstanding Virginians ►
 photo of video for website


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.