Metro Weekly

AGLA to honor Safe Space NOVA’s Jordan Costen and IMPACTO LGBT with 2019 Equality Awards

Awardees were nominated because of their work supporting LGBTQ youth and the Latinx community

IMPACTO LGBT – Photo: Facebook.

The Arlington-Alexandria Gay & Lesbian Alliance will honor Jordan Costen, the founder and executive director of Safe Space NOVA, and the community advocacy organization IMPACTO LGBT with its 2019 AGLA Equality Awards on Saturday, Dec. 7.

The awards ceremony, scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Alexandria Hilton Garden Inn, is held every year to recognize local LGBTQ leaders and activists who are doing their part to work towards greater LGBTQ equality and serve the community. The event also doubles as the group’s annual holiday party and the time at which the organization’s new board, which will start serving in 2020, is elected.

Both Costen and IMPACTO LGBT were nominated and unanimously approved by AGLA’s board for the awards.

Costen, an Atlanta-born transplant who previously served on the Alexandria Commission of Human Rights, founded Safe Space NOVA to provide the type of welcoming and accepting environment for LGBTQ youth that he wished had been available to him during his adolescence. He is being honored for his work with at-risk kids, as evidenced not only by Safe Space NOVA, but his volunteerism with other youth organizations, including the Maya Angelo Charter School, Horton’s Kids, and the Alexandria-based mentoring program, Space Of His Own.

“It feels really great to be honored,” Costen told Metro Weekly in an interview. “I’ve worked with AGLA since the very beginning of my advocacy work. I’ve been in Alexandria going on 10 years, and AGLA has been instrumental in connecting me with other people who are part of the LGBTQ community, whether in a professional capacity, as part of advocacy work, or just in social settings.”

“Jordan Costen was selected because of how much work and dedication he gives to the LGBTQ community,” says Bruce Hightower, the president of AGLA. “He sits on several boards, he’s advocated for youth, which is significant, especially in the LGBTQ community, because there aren’t a lot of spaces where youth can go and have programs dedicated to them.”

Jordan Costen – Photo: Facebook.

IMPACTO LGBT, a group of more than 500 members from all over Virginia led by Victor Claros, was founded to address the lack of community spaces and services specifically aimed at Latinx LGBTQ individuals in Northern Virginia. A nonpartisan, nonprofit charitable organization, IMPACTO LGBT’s seeks to develop programs for leadership and capacity-building, provide health and wellness services that will enhance the Latinx LGBTQ community’s quality of life, and advocate for representation in decision-making spaces.

“IMPACTO LGBT really advocates for getting people tested for HIV, and ensuring that people are aware of the programs and resources available to the LGBTQ community,” says Hightower.

“Both awardees work very closely with AGLA. AGLA has a youth initiative, and we refer a lot of youth who are having problems knowing where to go, or who to trust, or who need to access certain programs, such as housing, and that’s Jordan’s area of expertise,” adds Hightower. “When we serve the Latino community, we often end up referring many people to IMPACTO, and they work to ensure they’re being taken care of.”

The 2019 AGLA Equality Awards will be held on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 6-9 p.m. at the Alexandria Hilton Garden Inn, 2020 Richmond Hwy., Arlington, Va. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased online. For tickets or more information, visit www.eventbrite.com or email president@agla.org.

For more information on Safe Space NOVA, visit www.safespacenova.org.

For more information on IMPACTO LGBT, visit www.impactolgbt.org.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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