Above: James Millner (center) Director of Virginia Pride, with Richmond Mayor; Levar Stoney, Black Pride RVA co-Founder Luise “Cheezi” Farmer (left); and Zakia McKensey, founder of Nationz Foundation at the Pride Flag-raising ceremony at Richmond City Hall on June 1, 2022.“Virginia is for lovers,” goes the saying.

The slogan has been used by the state since 1969 to promote itself as a tourism destination. But it wasn’t until recently that the commonwealth became for all lovers.

Virginia is the most LGBTQ-affirming state in the South, according to recently released data. Now leaders who have fought for and succeeded in bringing change to Virginia hope the new Republican governor won’t undo the progress they’ve made.Until recently, the “lovers” that Virginia was beckoning didn’t include LGBTQ+ people.