For the sixth year, Black Pride RVA will hold its three-day festival of events in Richmond, VA. Director Luise ‘Cheezi’ Farmer has been there since the beginning, helping to create, sustain and grow its efforts and impact. A long-time advocate for the LGBTQAI+ community in Richmond, Virginia and a founding member of Us Giving RVA Connection (URGC), Cheezi has also served in various capacities for organizations such as Diversity Richmond, Women Of Essence Inc., and the Nationz Foundation. She has been recognized for her work as a community organizer and educator, receiving the Unsung Hero Award from the Virginia Pride (2019), Richmond Times Dispatch Person of the Year Honoree (2020), Black and Bold Award (2020) and The Advocate Champion of Pride (2021).
Cheezi, we’re excited for the sixth year of Black Pride RVA this July 14 – 16 in Richmond, VA. I’ve read that Black Pride RVA is “powered by the UGRC.” Will you share with us who is the UGRC?
Yes, Black Pride RVA was born from Us giving Richmond Connections, a grassroots organization based in Richmond, Virginia we founded in 2008. We created UGRC to empower and celebrate the local black LGBTQAI+ community, and to advocate for their rights and equality. Since its inception, Black Pride RVA has hosted numerous events, including annual Pride festivals, community forums, and health and wellness fairs. Black Pride RVA continues to play an important role in the Richmond community, providing a platform for black LGBTQAI+ individuals to celebrate their identities and connect with one another.
For this year’s Black RVA Pride, who are some of the partners you are working with to make it happen?
We have our long-standing community partners including Diversity Richmond, VA Pride, and Richmond Region Tourism / Out RVA. Our corporate and other partners range from health care / wellness, financial and insurance, all interested in supporting the Black and Brown LGBTQAI+ communities, and include Gilead Sciences, Allianz, Capital One, For The Fem In You and VCU’s Q-Collective. We also have beverage partners Tito’s and Cupcake Wines.
With so many years of Black Pride RVA under your belt, do you have any favorite stories, happenings or special moments you’d like to share?
It is always a special moment when someone says “I didn’t know we had a Black Pride in Richmond” and I say “yes we do” and then for them to say “ how can I help?” Each year we enjoy having local talent showcased for our “Day of Purpose.” It was indeed a very special moment when we were able to have the artist MK XYZ as she celebrated her first Black Pride event. Another special moment was June 3, 2022, In partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), Black Pride hosted the first Pride event for first Friday at the VMFA
We are loving the “Proud Out Loud” theme this year. Exactly what is on the schedule for this year?
- Thu, 7/13 Kickoff Party at Godfrey’s (9pm)
- Fri, 7/14 The Community ROOT Awards at Va. Union University (7-10pm)
- Sat, 7/15 Day of Purpose at the Richmond Convention Center (11-4pm)
- Sat, 7/15 BLACKTOPIA BALL at Diversity Richmond (9pm-1:30am)
- Sun, 7/16 PRIDE Brunch (11am) at Diversity Richmond
- Sun, 7/16 Community Block Party (3pm – 7pm) at Diversity Richmond
What’s the best way to support Black Pride RVA as an Ally, for those not a member of the Black LGBTQAI+ community?
Black Pride RVA is not just for Black LGBTQIA+. In today’s climate we definitely would love to see our allies come out and celebrate alongside the Virginia LGBTQIA+ community. We need to continue to build relationships, be resilient and show up as our authentic self.
When you are traveling in Virginia, what are a few of your favorite places to stay, eat, shop and play?
Two of my favorite things to do and experience when I’m not working or volunteering are visit wineries and catch great music across the state. Some of my favorite wineries are James River Cellars, Upper Shirley Vineyard, New Kent Winery, Lake Anna Winery and the Mattaponi Winery.