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Longtime LGBTQ nonprofit rebrands to reflect expanded mission, community outreach

ROSMY, which has supported the area’s LGBTQ+ youth since 1991, has relaunched as Side by Side, it was announced this morning.



25-year-old LGBTQ+ nonprofit ROSMY has relaunched with a new brand and name, the organization announced today. ROSMY is now known as Side by Side, an organization dedicated to creating supportive and inclusive communities across Virginia and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and those questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Side by Side leaders say the new name is more inclusive and replaces an outdated term. Part of ROSMY’s acronym stood for “sexual minority youth,” a description that no longer fully encompasses the growing number of transgender youth the organization works with.

Additionally, Side By Side now serves a larger geographic footprint than just Metro Richmond. Today, youth, families, and institutions from across the state access the nonprofit’s resources and trainings. The organization also launched a Charlottesville support group in 2008.

“In 1991, when ROSMY was founded, sexual minority youth was the nomenclature used to describe the youth we were serving,” said the organization’s founding board president Chris Clarke. “Times and culture have shifted and the organization has expanded over the course of 25 years toward building communities with LGBTQ+ youth, families, schools, and faith communities.”

The organization’s rebranding efforts were supported locally by the VCU Brandcenter. In 2014, the school approached ROSMY with the offer to work with the center in a rebranding effort. All services were provided in-kind by Brandcenter graduate students, who conducted research and interviews with Side by Side’s stakeholders which resulted in a new logo and a website redesign.

“The staff and board are thrilled with the new name and brand, and thankful to the Brandcenter’s students for all the hard work they put into the rebranding exercise,” said Side by Side’s executive director Ted Lewis. “The rebranding process took more than a year, as we engaged youth and the community in the process. We believe the Side by Side name better aligns with the work the organization is doing to foster inclusive communities with LGBTQ+ youth, families, schools, and more.”

Side by Side works with young people ages 11-20 through regular support groups, a leadership development program, and a Youth Support Line staffed by a trained operator for support, information and referrals. In the last year, Side by Side worked directly with more than 300 youth, as well as offered resources, guidance, and connection to parents and families. Side by Side also provides expertise on how to best work with LGBTQ+ youth to other organizations, schools, law enforcement, community leaders, and faith communities.

Though times have changed and society has largely moved from a position of tolerance to acceptance of the community Side by Side serves, data from the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) reveals that nearly 4 in 10 LGTBQ+ youth are physically harassed in schools. LGBTQ+ youth also commit suicide at nearly four times the rate of their heterosexual peers, according to data from The Trevor Project.

To that point, the organization works to create positive and affirming school environments, which have been associated with decreased depression, suicidal feelings, substance abuse, and unexcused school absences among LGBTQ+ youth. In a survey of youth who took part in the organization’s programs, 95% of respondents said they now “feel like they matter,” while 85% of middle school youth reported higher feelings of self-worth and self-esteem.

To learn more about Side by Side’s services and programs, visit their new website or call 804.644.4800. The Youth Support Line can be reached anytime at 888.644.4390.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.

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