On the evening of June 13, ACCESS AIDS Care and The LGBT Center of Hampton Roads brought together more than 150 persons for what was billed as a ‘community conversation’ to discuss the tragedy in Orlando in a safe, non-judgmental space.
Following opening remarks by Stacie Walls-Beegle, Executive Director of ACCESS AIDS Care and The LGBT Center of Hampton Roads, who challenged attendees to turn this tragedy around by taking positive action and Rev. Mark R. Byrd, Senior Pastor of New Life Metropolitan Community Church, attendees were allowed to share their feelings about the tragedy, offer solutions to end future hate crimes and delve into what motivates a person to commit an act of hate.
For nearly 90 minutes, a panel comprised of local law enforcement officers, political activists, and spiritual leaders responded to questions and comments made by attendees in the audience. The discussion was lively, emotional, respectful and thought provoking. A wide range of topics were discussed including bullying, homophobia, gun control, personal safety and suggestions for how to discuss the tragedy in Orlando with your children. Attendees were also encouraged tosign a banner that will be sent to the LGBT Center of Orlando.
In addition to the community forum, many staff members of ACCESS AIDS Care and The LGBT Center of Hampton Roads were on hand to talk to and offer support services, including comprehensive mental health counseling for anyone needing help processing Sunday’s tragedy. If you or anyone else you may know could benefit from any services offered by the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads, please stop by the center at 247 W. 25th St. Norfolk, VA 23517, call (757) 640-0929 or visit their website at www.accessaids.org