Dwayne Holmes serves as a community intervention specialist at Abounding Prosperity, Inc. in Dallas, Texas. He works to address disparities in his community, with a focus on issues impacting the health and wellness of Black communities.
“Abounding Prosperity was founded in November 2005 with the express purpose of responding to social and health disparities that continue to have a devastating impact on Black men and their families in Dallas County,” Holmes said. “Our mission is to provide services that address health, social and economic disparities among Black Americans with a particular emphasis on gay and bisexual men, cisgender women, transgender women and their families.”
Holmes is a part of AIDS United’s first-ever cohort of the Fund for Resilience, Equity and Engagement and the Transgender Leadership Initiative Leadership Development Program. These leaders were chosen through AIDS United’s grantee partner organizations as representatives of transgender and gender-nonconforming people and Black gay, bisexual, queer and same-gender-loving men — populations in our communities most disproportionately impacted by HIV.
“We are calling on leaders and communities to support Black activists in a collective effort to seek social, political, economic, and health justice for Black communities,” Holmes said. “We are also asking that the same people challenge their own bias, to celebrate the Black histories that have been so often negated from our cultural pantheon.”
We caught up with Holmes to learn more about his story and how he works to mobilize his community to stop HIV together.
How did you get into this field?
I first entered this field in March of 2019 in the hopes of making a difference in my community and saving lives.
What are some of the barriers that prevent Black GBQ/SGL men from accessing care?
Among the many barriers Black GBQ/SGL men face when attempting to access care are a lack of inclusion, discrimination and racism — all which threaten the safety and well-being of this marginalized community.
At our organization we strive to make a change in our community by having programs that directly serve Black GBQ/SGL men. As we know, every time that Black communities face injustice and violence, there can be no justice for anyone. We are out in the field every single day providing viable resources that appear to be concealed from our community.
How do we start to reduce those barriers?
It starts with bringing awareness to people. We are educating our brothers and sisters about HIV/STD care, PrEP as prevention, and we are providing safe spaces so that people can address their mental health issues. We have changed the structure of our organization to be more inclusive, especially for our Black trans community, who faces a whole other level of discrimination.
What are some of the challenges preventing Black GBQ/SGL men from being in executive leadership roles? What are some of the solutions to addressing those challenges?
Many of the issues above tie into why there is a lack of inclusion in leadership roles. I strongly feel there is a power struggle among those in leadership and a fear of losing such power. I also sense a divide among those of the older generation and those of the younger generation. It appears the transfer of knowledge came to a halt as the older generation grew feeble.
Growing up, I never had anyone of power in the LGBTQ community to guide me and train me in the ways I should go. Honestly, I always felt alone. So I think we must be more willing to new faces and new opportunities.
As times change, so does interest. As leaders, we must be willing to accept that. Those in power must be eager to let it go without the fear of losing everything — training the upcoming generation so that they won’t make the same mistakes and advance our people and community.