Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Virginia continues to make history as one of the most LGBTQ-inclusive states in the South. Gov. Ralph Northam proclaimed June to be a state-wide Commonwealth celebration of the LGBTQ community in Virginia. Titled “Pride Month in the Commonwealth,” the announcement included a list of LGBTQ-centered festivals, events and workshops. “We are proud,” Northam said, “to stand with and support LGBTQ+ Virginians as we recommit to building a Commonwealth and country where everyone is treated with respect and dignity, and all people can live freely and authentically.”

Following the passage of the Virginia Values Act on April 11, 2020, this state has found a respected place on the map for protecting the LGBTQ community against discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and access to credit. Later, in 2021, Virginia banned the LGBTQ “panic defense.” This means that no crime committed against an LGBTQ-identified person may be argued to have been in response to their LGBTQ status in Virginia. 

Around the same time, Virginia passed legislation that allowed LGBTQ elders access to comprehensive care, repealed the law that criminalized organ/blood donations by HIV-positive people and removed barriers for same-sex couples to adopt children. The Commonwealth then created an LGBTQ-specific advisory board to participate in all of Virginia’s legislative measures. On June 2, Pride Month kicked off with an LGBTQIA+ Lunch and Learn Panel titled Virginia is for Tourism Lovers. Like most of the events offered, this conversation was carried out online with no ticket cost or location restrictions. With Pub Runs, Q&As at Alexandria’s public library and a game night with soccer team the Richmond Kickers, the list of events in June have no shortage of diversity, including an Asian film festival and a panel discussion for LGBTQ Indigenous Youth.

For information on Virginia’s Commonwealth Pride Month, visit alexandriava.gov/LGBTQ.

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