5 questions with Daymond Lavine
As a graphic designer, Daymond Lavine designs images with a message. As president of Men of Essence, he strives to improve the image of gay men of color. A native of Opelousas, La., Lavine moved to Arlington in 2004 with his partner Stanley Coleman.
What is the Men of Essence and what does the organization do?
Men of Essence is a networking organization created specifically to address the unique needs of the gay community of color. In order to meet the needs of a community that is suffering from staggering HIV/AIDS statistics, lack of acceptance by family and religious figures, internalized homophobia and the DL ( down-low) phenomenon, MoE seeks to provide positive motivators in the DFW community.
How did you become involved with MoE?
My partner, Stanley Coleman, and I moved to Arlington at the end of 2004 and soon noticed there was a lack of social outlets for professional gay men of color. Thus, MoE was founded on Sept. 19, 2005. It started as a small group of friends who wanted to give back to the community through networking events that build positive images of gay men of color. It has now become a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to service initiatives and fundraising events that demonstrate the potential existing in the gay community of color.
Tell me about the Christmas toy drive MoE recently held.
As of 2007, MoE has become very interested in developing positive images of gay men of color by targeting our most precious resource, our youth. The theme for the event was "Honor Your Inner Child Through Toy Donations." In the spirit of networking, holiday cheer and service, we utilized this event as a fundraiser and toy drive in order to acquire enough toys to benefit children served by Jonathan’s Place.
Can you tell me about the educational grant MoE is awarding?
It has always been built into the infrastructure of MoE to collect funds that will aid a college-bound student or one that is already a college student. This person will be one that is either gay or the product of an LGBT family. Education is a means of advancement in society and also breaks down social boundaries. An application, details and requirements concerning the MoE educational grant may be found at www.essencemen.org.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about men of color in the LGBT community?
I would have to say that the biggest misconception about gay men of color would be that we are more concerned with partying than overcoming our social adversities and the overall struggle faced by the total LGBT community.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 9, 2009.
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