NORFOLK, VA — (01-30-23) — LGBTQ activist and beloved pillar of the Hampton Roads LGBTQ community Charles Kirtland, has died.  Local LGBTQ activists are remembering him for his kindness, empathy and passion for the people and causes he championed.

Charles Kirtland, owner of Gershwin’s in downtown Norfolk and chair of the LGBT Life Center‘s board of directors, died suddenly this week.

“He meant everything. He was kindness, he was love, he was acceptance. To be LGBT in Hampton Roads was Charles,” said Nick Dintelmann of Hampton Roads Pride.

Kirtland, a Norfolk resident since 2007, was known for volunteering with Hampton Roads Pride and the local Stonewall Sports league to local drag and burlesque shows. He was also known for his involvement in the downtown Norfolk business community.

“I don’t know if there’s a corner of this LGBT community that Charles didn’t touch,” said Stacie Walls, CEO of the LGBT Life Center. “He was everywhere, and he was there with passion. And he truly embodied what it means to serve. There was not anything he wouldn’t do for anybody.” said Walls.

After testing positive for HIV in 2018, Kirtland “made it his mission to destigmatize living with HIV,” added Walls. “He was very open about his HIV status … he believed strongly that everybody should get tested, but also if you’re living with HIV you should really be out about it … you can live healthier when you don’t have the stress lingering and the stigma associated with it,” said Walls.

He was also about making sure everyone was included and represented. Charles Kirtland made an impact on so many people that his memory will never be forgotten by the residents of Norfolk.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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