H. Alexander Robinson

Black LGBT History Day 12: Regina Shavers

Filed By H. Alexander Robinson | February 12, 2008 12:59 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Black Gay History, black history, black LGBT, Regina Shavers

Transitioned January 29, 2008

reginashavers3.gifRegina Shavers founded the GRIOT Circle, "an intergenerational and culturally diverse community-based social service organization responsive to the realities of older lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, two-spirit and transgender people (LGBTST) of all colors."

Regina Shavers had a long history of community involvement and activism. As co-chair of District Council 37 (NYC) she advocated for workers' rights, and served on the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Lesbian and Gay Rights Advisory Board. She played an active role in the Campaign for an Inclusive Family Policy, the citywide coalition that negotiated with Mayor David N. Dinkins to obtain Domestic Partner benefits for New York City employees.

She also helped to found Pride At Work, a constituency group of the AFL-CIO that focuses on the rights and unionization of LGBT workers. Regina was also the former Assistant Director of the NYC Department of Health's HIV Training Institute. She created and implemented curricula for HIV prevention and treatment, including curricula specifically tailored towards older populations. Regina continued with her HIV/AIDS facilitation as a member of the New York Association on HIV Over Fifty (NYAHOF).

In 1995, Regina co-founded GRIOT Circle to combat the lack of community that she had observed amongst LGBT Elders, particularly those of color. She assumed the role of Executive Director of GRIOT in 2000. Regina Shavers founded the GRIOT Circle as "an intergenerational and culturally diverse community-based social service organization responsive to the realities of older lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, two-spirit and transgender people (LGBTST) of all colors."

The goal of GRIOT Circle is to maintain a safe space for elders, provide emotional support and quality programming which affirms age, gender, racial, spiritual and ethnic origins for the over 50 LGBTST ommunity in Brooklyn.

GRIOT Circle provides educational and informational forums, referrals to social service providers, health and fitness programs, spiritual wellness, computer training, a friendly visitors program and social outreach. Volunteer members make reassurance telephone calls and visits to homebound, sick or hospitalized persons.

[Editor's note:] This post is part of a series celebrating Black History Month and the Black LGBT experience. The information in this profile was gathered by the National Black Justice Coalition.

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A wonderful entry, but one little thing...

As a transsexual, when I see it written that a person "transitioned", I assume that to mean that this person went formally went from one gender to the other, not that they died. I had to read the entire entry and make certain assumptions in order to understand that it wasn't about a transperson.

Maybe it's nitpicky, but when you use that word in an LGBT relevant forum, it's commonly understood by many to refer to a gender transition, not passing on, and therefore is likely to be confusing to many, as it was to me.

And also, not for nothing, but using the word "transitioned" as a synonym for "died" just doesn't sit well with me. Far too many straights see it exactly that way when it is used to refer to a transperson's change in gender. No accusations or anything like that, but it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

As a transperson, my inclination is to see transition as Rebecca did. But in the context of an article about Black History Month, I realized that it referred to her death. Partly it was because I had previously heard about her death, but also because I'm aware of the cultural usage of not only the term "transition" for death in that community, but of "passing", as well. Of course that is also a term associated with the GLBT community.

I'm more comfortable with "passed away", although that isn't aubstantially different. I suppose that speaks to my cultural upbringing.