Earlier this year, HRC Foundation announced the inaugural class of the 2016 HIV 360° Fellowship Program. Made possible with generous support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, HIV 360° is a capacity-building fellowship program for young, nonprofit leaders ready to take HIV-inclusive organizations and initiatives to the next level.
The HRC blog recently sat down with each of the fellows to discuss the program, their work, and their vision of an AIDS-free generation.
Thomas Davis, 24, works at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and has been a voice and advocate for Black gay and bisexual men living with HIV. After being diagnosed with HIV in 2013, Thomas wanted to share his story with others to let them know that they are not alone, and that each individual has an opportunity to turn a possibly devastating experience into a positive one. Since then, Thomas has spoken to audiences in the U.S. and abroad, and he’s been part of several youth-led initiatives aimed at empowering young people in the fight against HIV.
How did you first get involved with the movement to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic? How, if at all, did that inspire you to become an HIV 360° Fellow?
I didn’t see any Black gay or bisexual men speaking about their experiences with HIV when I was diagnosed in 2013, so I started to vlog about mine on social and digital media. I’ve always loved sharing my story, but I wanted to find more ways to be effective in this field after being involved with so many different initiatives, campaigns, and programs. Hence why I applied.
Each fellow has been asked to design, implement, and evaluate a community service project to combat HIV transmission rates in their respective communities. Tell us about yours and what you hope to accomplish with it.
Mine is called “The Catharsis Project” and it uses performance art — mainly dance — to educate people about the history the HIV and AIDS in the U.S. I worry that many people, particularly young people, don’t know what it was like in the early days of epidemic. I want to honor this history and also show that art can be an effective way to combat the spread of HIV.
What is one key learning you’ve gained from the fellowship program? What have you enjoyed the most about it?
From emotional intelligence to project management and delegation, I’ve really enjoyed learning about the different skill sets that are needed to be effective working at a non-profit organization. I’ve also learned how to measure the impact of my work in ways I didn’t know were possible.
How can people learn more about your organization and support the work you are doing?
Folks should visit our website to learn more about the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the extensive list of programs and services that we offer to the LGBTQ community.
Check back here in the coming weeks to learn more about each one of the HIV 360° Fellows. To learn more about the program itself, click here.