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Black gay caucus board chair David Dodd wears many hats
by Melissa Wasserman

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Here is something interesting about Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus ( CBGMC ) Board Chair David Dodd: He was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and moved to Chicago in 1999, just weeks after graduating high school—with the movie Love Jones inspiring his move to Chicago, since the love story takes place in the Windy City.

"I take myself and who I am very seriously and who I am as a Black, gay man," said Dodd. "So, I feel part of my life's work is to make sure I can provide or be of assistance or be a helping hand to other Black gay men or those who identify as queer. So, funnily enough being out in the way I'm out now is really more so not just a personal mission, but it's my life's mission, if you will. That's how I look at it."

Dodd took his love of fashion and dreams of being a fashion designer to the International Academy of Merchandising and Design ( today known as the International Academy of Design and Technology )—but then realized he could not sew. Still wanting to exercise creativity in his career, he left the school and decided to go to Chicago State University. There he majored in marketing and minored in public relations, which he explained allowed him to be personable and creative, while interacting with people. Although he did not end up with a fashion career, he is still passionate about fashion.

Fashion, he said, is how he expresses himself and he can be seen wearing black and white most of the time. Some of his other hobbies include dancing, bowling, reading, poetry and the observation in trends in marketing, digital marketing, social media. Joking, he shared that his friends call him "Dora the Explorer" because he is never home. He said if there is something that interests him, he said, he will go out and try it.

"Life is about experience and you can't get those experiences sitting at home, you have to be able to allow yourself be free and to roam and be able to be open and that's how I stay connected," said Dodd.

"My life mission overall, I think about how I want to impact my community while I'm on this earth and what can I do to have the impact on those that look like me, feel like me, all of those things and so when I started get into more of my volunteer work around Windy City Black Pride, that's really what started my volunteerism when it comes to the Black LGBTQ community, specifically," said Dodd. "I want to walk away from this life knowing that I've touched someone else or some kind words have been me giving a speech, me working a program, me hosting an event and meeting you is touching your life and impacting you in a way that's positive and hopefully inspiring them to do the same for others."

When asked who inspires him, he credited his mother as his number one inspiration, describing her as open and welcoming. He also said people with creativity and who are free and open are inspiring.

Dodd is also executive producer and a co-host of LGBTQ radio talk show The Sip. The show's hosts set out to discover and report on a range of things from world headline news to pop culture—all from a Black LGBTQ perspective. He is also director of communications for the Black Alphabet Film Festival.

Dodd began serving as the the CBGMC board chair in early 2017; he had been a member of the organization eight years prior to this role.

CBGMC is a grassroots organization led by Black gay, bisexual and same-gender-loving men that works to ensure healthcare engagement, eliminate new HIV infections, and achieve community-wide undetectability. With "by us, for us" initiatives, the organization strives "to advance health equity among Black gay, bisexual and same gender loving men by developing community-centered leadership and innovative programs," according to its website.

"One of the things that attracted me to the Caucus was the fact that it was the only organization—and I think really still is—that is really working specifically on behalf of Black gay queer SGL men in the city of Chicago and Illinois," said Dodd. "Our main focus, our audience, is specifically African American same gender loving men. So that was the first part. I think the second part that attracted me to the organization at that time, was that the focus was on health, and it's still on health now, but it's kind of a new vision for health."

Dodd said what fuels him in this role, is the ability to create opportunities and spaces for the communities at hand, specifically what they need and to give information and resources. "We want to be able to further provide those opportunities where we can come together and enjoy one another as human beings and create that human experience, but also getting information and getting care, concern and validation from people who are also managing some of the same things as I and others do on a daily basis," said Dodd. "We really just want to make sure that Black gay men are not forgotten … and also putting it out there in a way to show we're just as important as any race or any other race within the LGBTQ+ community. That's our work and I think we're on the road again to get that going and to get folks to join us in that fight."

Dodd added that he hopes to increase the organization's programming, awareness and visibility, not only locally, but nationally.

"It's my hope that within this role, we're able to serve more Black gay men and really put a focus light on who we are as people and how managing certain components of lives has a really big impact on our health and wanting to change that and really work with people, whether it's members of the community, allies, even the broader LGBTQ community, to really work to try to improve programming and opportunities where we can lessen some of these burdens and provide opportunities for growth for Black gay men," said Dodd.

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