A diverse cross section of the Hampton Roads queer community and their allies packed the room at the LGBT Center in Norfolk last night for an emotional and uplifting discussion about the possible impacts of the 2016 Election on the LGBTQ community. With tears and laughter, fear and hope, the open forum touched on concerns over the future of transgender military benefits to legal recourse in cases of workplace discrimination to fears for living as a queer person under the new administration.
The 90-minute discussion, organized by Access AIDS Care and the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads, was moderated by former Norfolk City Councilwoman and activist Nicole Carry. Panel members were Mary Aab, Director of the LGBT Center; Attorney Alex Gabriel from Williams Mullen; Taryn McLean, a transgender NAVY employee; and Pastor Mark Byrd of New Life MCC Church.
In a statement issued earlier in the day, Access AIDS Care wrote, “Today, many in the LGBT community woke up realizing that the future Trump Administration may radically alter the political and social landscape, challenging or reversing recent progress toward marriage equality, affordable access to healthcare, bans on conversion therapy, transgender acceptance and other forms of discrimination.”
ACCESS AIDS Care’s executive director, Stacie Walls-Beegle, told the crowd, “The LGBT Center is here for you. It is a safe place for all people to gather, but particularly for members of the LGBTQ community.”
Jessica Scheck said, “This event really gave me strength after a few days of depression. Thank you everyone for coming together for the community. It was great hearing all the stories and heartfelt words.”
ACCESS AIDS Care is dedicated to promoting the health and dignity of those individuals and families impacted by HIV/AIDS and also operates Hampton Roads’ only LGBT Center, providing a safe space, resources, education and support to the entire LGBTQ community. For more information, call (757) 640-0929 or visit their website at www.accessaids.org.