Archive for December 2012
Audio Report: interview with Pastor Robin Gorsline of the Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond.
Web Story: Thoughts on gay marraige from those inside and outside of the gay communuty in Richmond.
Slideshow: Celebrating their “En”gay”gement.
Beat Story: Paolo Benavides is a hispanic part owner of Pepe’s mexican restaurant here in the central Virginia area.
With so many interpretations of religion, the line regarding gay relationships seems to be in question.
By: Samantha Morgan and Amber Galaviz
Marriage has been a part of human life for as long as record books date back; over a thousand years. However the basic right to a legally bound union with the person you love has been saved exclusively for man and woman, and now that may be changing.
Many American’s agree that a person should be able to marry the person they love despite orientation and express that love through a civil union or like heterosexual couples through marriage. Yet still, religion plays a very important role in many Americans’ decision to oppose same-sex couples being legally married.
There are many support groups in the U.S. that claim to “cure” homosexuality, and many of those groups are rooted with a religious background.
Arny Beltran is a Richmond local and belongs to the gay community.
“Some people really think it is a conscious decision that I made when I was born, I disagree. There was never a time that I just chose this life. Who would choose to go through this?” said Beltran.
Here in Richmond, the gay community is breaking through the barriers of a historically very conservative town. Many local gay support organizations hold religious meetings on a weekly or monthly basis, including the Gay Community Center of Richmond. Numerous people that belong to this community are very religious. They respect their chosen God and strive to serve them just as any other believer would. Many local gay people believe that their God loves them just the same and claim that love is love; there is no distinction when it comes to what God sees.
Amber Hott is an avid church attendee who has strong views on love.
“From my own perspective, God just has love for us. We all are sinners and in the end He will accept us no matter who we love, “said Hott.
The most important aspect to those who support marriage equality is obtaining the legal rights of any other couple. Gay and lesbian couples want to get married not only for the religious aspect of the lifetime commitment. Same-sex couples are often denied the rights to hospital visitation hours, ability to obtain “family” health coverage, inheritance rights and many more.
The Gay Community Center of Richmond has been operating since 1999. The vision of GCCR states, ““We are the physical and virtual center for the enrichment of the lives of sexual and gender minority people in Central Virginia through individual and organizational achievement and growth.”
The center serves as an environment where all residents of Central Virginia can live and work free from discrimination. GCCR holds bingo events, game nights and even worship on Sundays.
The “Saved and Gay,” worship is held weekly by New Beginnings Christian Church at the community center located on 1407 Sherwood Ave.
Pastor Greg Harman has served as a minister since 1980, and provides the Sunday services.
“We are open to all of God’s children, regardless of race, sexual orientation, social status, and all the other things that often separate people,” Harman said. “New Beginnings Christian Church is modeled after the teachings of Jesus Christ. Promoting unconditional love for all of God’s children is the primary mission of the church.”
The church is dedicated to developing a strong community of faith among its members. Gay or straight, all are welcomed to their services.
Bill Harrison has been the CEO of GCCR since February.
“The attitudes on the gay community are changing. (The more people get to know us) they realize the more we have in common, than the more we have in difference,” said Harrison.
Through hosting open events and welcoming everyone into their center, GCCR hopes to open minds and strengthen the Richmond community.
Pepe’s Mexican restaurant is going strong with the help of a loyal customer base and delicious authentic food.
By: Samantha Morgan
Coming off a recent remodeling of the interior, Pepe’s Mexican restaurant on Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield is one of the few family owned restaurants in the area that still can be seen with a line out of the door. In this tough economy many small business owners including part owner of Pepe’s Paulo Benavides, have a reason to be worried about the bottom line.
“I think compared to ten years ago business has taken a bit of a slop mostly attributed to more competition and some of the economic hardships the country in general has taken,” said Benavides.
Benavides was born in town called Degollado, in the state of Jalisco in Mexico. He and his family came to America in the pursuit of making better lives for themselves and their futuregenerations. While in Mexico, the Benavides family successfully owned and operated restaurants, just like what they are doing here in the Richmond area. Paulo and his brother purchased the Midlothian Turnpike location from their father.
“Opening a business is usually an easier process than one thinks. The hardest part is usually coming up with the money to get established. The paper work side of [sic] is quite simple when dealing with the county or city,” said Benavides.
In the beginning back in 1999 there was just one location, under the name Don Jose’s which was located in Colonial Heights. “I remember going to that[Colonial Heights] location when my son was just a small kid, now when me and my family go to Pepe’s they all still recognize us and treat us like family,” said loyal customer of 10 years, Monty Wassum.
Over the last ten years, two more locations have opened, making three restaurants in total. The two newest locations include one restaurant on Hull Street in Midlothian and another on West Hundred Road in Chester. “I have been a faithful customer to these guys since they were called Don Jose’s about 5 or 6 years ago, every other Mexican restaurant I go to just isn’t the same,” said Krystal Hambright, a 22-year-old college student.
Repeat customers say they like the friendly atmosphere, and the authentic Mexican cuisine. At any given day, Pepe’s Mexican restaurant is full of smiling faces, quickly served food and friendly staff. Next time you are craving authentic Mexican food, Paolo Benavides would be happy to serve you.