2017 Best of GAY HRVA Reader’s Poll Winners: People


Local Hero
Best Transgender Advocate
Gavin Grimm

The unassuming transgender teen from Gloucester 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.










Most Committed LGBT Activist
Michael Berlucchi

Most visibly, Michael has served as president and many other volunteer roles for Hampton Roads Pride since 2012. Beyond that, he’s a driving force behind human rights policies from local and state government to law enforcement.










Best School Board Member
Joel A. McDonald


Openly out Virginia Beach School Board member Joel McDonald is currently serving his second term.













Best Local Politician
Andria Padgett McClellan

Andria McClellan
LGBT advocate and friend Andria McClellan was recently elected Super Ward 6 City Councilwoman for the City of Norfolk.












Best Educator
Best Local Author
Charles Ford (Norfolk State)

Dr. Charles Ford, author, activist, and Professor of History at Norfolk State University is in many ways the voice of Coastal Virginia’s LGBT community.










Best Businessperson
Claus Ihlemann

Claus has been at the forefront of Coastal Virginia’s LGBTQ community since he founded Decorum Furniture in 1975. He has not only been an advocate for local businesses but a leader in local, state and national LGBTQ issues ranging from AIDS activism to marriage equality













Best Real Estate Agent
Ben LeBrun

Ben LeBrun, realtor at Greg Garrett Realty.com
Ben LeBrun, realtor extraordinaire at Greg Garrett Realty.com, is a lifelong Hampton Roads resident and has been a leading LGBTQ realtor since 2011. This is his second year voted as best Realtor.











Best Straight Ally
Best Financial Planner
Cindy Cutler

Hampton Roads native Cindy Cutler is a lifelong advocate for LGBT rights and tireless fundraiser for the community. She works at New York Life’s Norfolk General Office.










Best Attorney
Michael Hamar

Hampton resident Michael Hamar PC handles residential and commercial real estate transactions, will and estate planning, and legal services for corporate law and business transactions. He’s also a charter member of HRBOR and a visible face for the LGBT community.










Best Stylist
Barry Menser (Hair by Barry)

As owner of Barry’s For Hair in Hampton for 20 years, Barry has established a reputation for outstanding customer care. He and his husband, Michael Hamar, are vocal advocates for the LGBTQ community.
















Best Spiritual Leader
Pastor Mark Byrd (New Life MCC)

Openly-gay Christian pastor Mark Byrd has been the leader of Norfolk’s New Life UMCC congregation since 2013.











Best Radio Personality
Danny Epperson (WHRV)

Danny Epperson, producer at WHRV-FM.
Danny Epperson, producer at WHRV-FM, is on the of the station’s moving forces in their excellent coverage of local LGBT issues and events.













Best Local TV Personality
Barbara Ciara (WTKR)

Barbara Ciara, WTKR Channel 3 news anchor, has been fixture on local TV for years and vocal advocate for the community.
Barbara Ciara, WTKR Channel 3 news anchor.











Best Artist
Avery Shaffer

Norfolk artist and designer Avery Shaffer uses large wall-mounted glass pieces to explore gay identity and the male form.