What does Birmingham’s recent 100% inclusivity score mean? + 6 LGBTQ-friendly events

You are Beautiful quilt from the Magic City Acceptance Center.
Quilt from the Magic City Acceptance Center. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Birmingham recently got a perfect 100 score on the national LGBTQ+ Municipal Equality Index. The Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation gave a record 88 out of 506 cities across the country this score.

To find out what this means to people in Birmingham, we dug into the nuts and bolts of the score, then reached out to four people in the community. And, we put together a list of 7 LGBTQ-friendly events for y’all. Keep reading for all the details.

The Nuts and Bolts: what Birmingham’s 100% inclusivity score is

Birmingham, AL
Birmingham as seen from the TJ Tower. Photo via Jon Eastwood for Bham Now

The Human Rights Campaign is a Washington, DC-based national civil rights organization advocating for the LGBTQ community across the United States. They partnered with the Equality Federation Institute to produce the 8th annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI).

“HRC’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI) demonstrates the ways that many cities can—and do—support the LGBTQ people who live and work there.”

To be clear, this report actually looked at the City of Birmingham—in terms of municipal laws, employment, housing, non-discrimination and other policies and practices. If you want, you can check out the City’s full scorecard to see what all went into this designation.

There are a couple of positions that were key to receiving this MEI score that you may not even realize Birmingham has:

Birmingham Police Department has an LGBTQ liaison.
Birmingham Police. Photo via Facebook
  • The City of Birmingham has an LGBTQ liaison whose name is Josh Coleman
  • The Birmingham Police Department also has an LGBTQ liaison. Her name is Sgt. Heather Campbell, and she’s happy for people in the community to reach out to her regarding any sensitive topics that may come up in relation to the police. You can email her at  heather.campbell@birminghamal.gov or call her at The North Precinct 205.254.2860.

Next, we reached out to four local LGBTQ community leaders to see what the score means to the people they work with, and to find out what events are coming up soon in the community.

Rev. Jennifer Sanders, Beloved Community Church in Avondale

Rev. Jennifer Sanders of Beloved Community on Birmingham's 100% inclusivity score
Rev. Jennifer Sanders, Beloved Community Church, (R) with More Light Presbyterians at Pride in Birmingham. Photo via Facebook

On Birmingham’s 100% inclusivity score

“This is a measure of one sort of progress—and it is progress to be celebrated.

Yet there is much work still to be done to ensure that all people in our city and around our state are treated with genuine respect for their full humanity- especially at the intersections of sexual orientation and gender identity with race, class, gender, and disability status.”

Rev. Jennifer Sanders, Beloved Community Church, Avondale

Upcoming events

Birmingham's 100% inclusivity score and places to celebrate the holidays
Celebrating Advent at Beloved. Photo via Facebook

Of course there are many open, welcoming and inclusive religious institutions across Birmingham. And, Beloved has two events coming up for the holidays:

Tony Christon-Walker, Bham Black Pride

Tony Christon-Walker of Birmingham Black Pride
Tony Christon-Walker at the beach. Photo via Facebook

On Birmingham’s 100% inclusivity score

“It depends on who you are. Black gay people still live with racism, and we need to be able to talk about that.”

Tony Christon-Walker, Bham Black Pride

Upcoming events with Bham Black Pride

Check on Facebook for details of the January bar crawl, coming soon.

Matt Pagnotti, Director of Policy and Advocacy, AIDS Alabama

AIDS Alabama works to end AIDS
Working to end AIDS in Montgomery. Photo via AIDS Alabama’s Facebook page

On Birmingham’s 100% inclusivity score

“There have been encouraging steps toward LGBTQ equity made by city officials recently, such as the passage of an LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance and the hiring of the city’s first LGBTQ liaison. We hope that city leaders will take this score as motivation to continue working to improve the quality of life for Birmingham’s LGBTQ residents. 

Black and Latinx LGBTQ individuals, especially those who are trans, still encounter disparities in criminalization, housing, and healthcare. 

It would be great to see the city more meaningfully invest in initiatives created and led by LGBTQ communities of color and adopt policies that address the intersections between racism and anti-LGBTQ discrimination. 

As Birmingham continues to work on these critical issues, we encourage other Alabama cities to follow the example set by our Birmingham leaders and include LGBTQ representation within their non-discrimination protections and staffing.”

Matt Pagnotti, AIDS Alabama

Upcoming events with AIDS Alabama

Xmas is a Drag
Christmas is anything but a drag. Photo via Facebook

YOUnity Workshop

  • What: YOUnity Workshop for people recently diagnosed with HIV, primarily facilitated by leaders living with HIV
  • Where: The Hub, 2217 6th Ave S, Birmingham, Alabama 35233
  • When: Dec. 13, 3PM-Dec. 14, 6PM
  • Reserve your spot: contact Tony Christon-Walker at 205.422.9855 or email: tony.walker@aidsalabama.org

Christmas is a Drag

Josh Coleman, LGBTQ Liaison, City of Birmingham

“I think the score means Birmingham is growing. This is the starting point.”

Josh Coleman, LGBTQ Liaison, City of Birmingham

Rob Hill, Board Chair, Steel City Men’s Chorus

Steel City Men's Chorus
The Steel City Men’s Chorus singing at Regions Field. Photo via Blake Britton Photography

On Birmingham’s 100% inclusivity score

“As Birmingham’s, and I believe Alabama’s, only active gay men’s chorus, it’s heartening to know that the city we call home has achieved this distinction.

It shows the dedication of our community leaders to ‘modeling the way’ when it comes to equity and inclusiveness.

In our seven-year history, we’ve always felt warmly embraced by this city, and we’re definitely proud to say we’re from Birmingham.

In fact, next summer we’ll represent Alabama’s most inclusive city at the GALA Choruses quadrennial festival, the largest gathering of LGBT choruses in the world, and we’ll do so more proudly than ever.”

Rob Hill, Board Chair, Steel City Men’s Chorus

Upcoming events

Hollywood Holidays is Steel City Men's Chorus' Upcoming Holiday show
Graphic via Facebook
  • What: Hollywood Holidays
  • When: Dec. 13, 7:30PM and Dec. 15, 2:30PM
  • Where: Virginia Samford Theatre, 1116 26th Street South
  • Get tickets: $30 in advance, $33 at the door

Now tell us, Birmingham, what do you think of Birmingham’s 100% inclusivity score?

Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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