Evelyn BruMar, a Prince William County social activist, is everywhere these days. I track her activities because excitement tends to follow. When I heard that she was working on a new project, Casa BruMar, I wanted to learn more. We met at Jinari Coffee House in Old Town Manassas to catch up.
Some people object to others being who they were born to be for a lot of complicated reasons. BruMar shared her own experience coming out as a lesbian. At 19, she was disowned by her family and ended up living on the streets of San Diego. An abusive relationship followed. Fortunately, her parents eventually rescued her and brought her home.
Evelyn and Heidi BruMar are celebrating 16 years of marriage. It wasn’t easy. The first 10 years of their marriage was considered “illegal.” Heidi served in the Navy. They lived the “don’t ask, don’t tell” years. Evelyn was denied military medical care, access to the PX and Commissary, and other privileges afforded to military spouses, and she lived a married life in the shadows. She wants to fix that for others.
Things have improved for the BruMars, and the LGBTQ+ community in general, but they still have a long way to go. According to BruMar, Virginia’s current laws still allow discrimination regarding housing, employment, adoption, correctional facilities, the foster care system, public accommodations, education, and emergency shelters. Although many states have outlawed the practice, conversion therapy is still legal in Virginia.
BruMar’s experience, activism, and knowledge of public policy, including its limits, are the foundation of her vision for Casa BruMar. She plans to help others in the LGBTQ+ community overcome the challenges they may face and simply be who they were born to be. Her secret is love.
Casa BruMar’s model is simple. Some discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals because of who they are born to be or who they love. Casa BruMar will provide unconditional acceptance. Families often disown a child who comes out as LGBTQ+. Casa BruMar will help those who find themselves without a family or a home with a safe place to be, a community to support them, and resources to complete their education. The right to be who you are born to be is fundamental. Casa BruMar will advocate for those rights.
BruMar’s “secret sauce” for Casa BruMar, and for her life, is “love.” I felt it during our interview. She has more than enough to share. She plans to host the first LGBTQ+ Symposium in Virginia at George Mason University’s Prince William campus on April 25.
Casa BruMar is a start-up not-for-profit addressing a legitimate need in the LGBTQ+ community. It has completed the incorporation process and is awaiting approval of its 501(c)3 status. BruMar is looking for office space, volunteers, and donations. If you would like to help, the best way to contact Casa BruMar is through its website, https://casaBruMarfoundation.org, or Facebook page. You can also track what is going on via Twitter @CasaBruMar.
Our community, our country, is evolving. We are learning to simply let people live their lives as long as they don’t hurt other people or take their stuff. Some are slower to accept this natural evolution than others. Casa BruMar is a necessary step to help us move forward. I look forward to learning more at next year’s LGBTQ+ Symposium. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Al Alborn is a political and social activist in Prince William County. His column appears every other week. You can learn more about Al at www.alborn.net.