Hometown Advocate and Community Leader
by C.L. Frederick
We live in a social media era, a time in which everyone, it seems, is screaming for attention. Flesh gets likes, anything outrageous gets reshared, and personalities vie to be top dog. Recognizing hometown LGBTQ advocates for their vital contributions is largely underappreciated. It’s time to change that and start celebrating those in our community who do the most good, who are selfless and give of themselves while expecting nothing in return.
One such individual is Kansas City’s Joshua Minnis. An advocate dedicated to the improvement and health of his LGBTQ brethern, Minnis is a man who is passionate about reducing HIV transmission rates and committed to the overall betterment of his community.
Minnis has been a fixture on the Kansas City LGBTQ scene. He has worked tirelessly with each of the four major AIDS service organizations in Kansas City: The Kansas City CARE Clinic, Good Samaritan Project, Hope Care Center, and Save, Inc. He has worked closely with the AIDS Service Foundation on its annual AIDS Walk, House Party, AIDS Bicycle Cruise and World AIDS Day. He has served as president of the board for the Millennial League for the last four years. The Millennial League created monthly awareness fundraisers and free HIV testing opportunities at Bistro 303 and Missy B’s, as well as two annual all-ages events called Val-O-Ween and Code Red.
He has organized partnerships with GAP and Halls on the Country Club Plaza to produce several annual awareness events. “You haven’t lived until you’ve passed out condoms on the Plaza as you wrap people’s holiday gifts for them,” Minnis said.
In addition, Minnis has partnered with the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project on several outreach efforts. Also, he has lent his time, energy and voice to reach LGBTQ youth.
“I speak to LGBTQ groups at local colleges about self-harm and resources to help struggling queer youth like (at) Kansas City’s Lilac Center,” said Minnis.
Minnis has been an agent of change since childhood and at an early age was working to make lives better for all LGBTQ individuals.
“I was fortunate to have been able to come out at a reasonably early age,” he said. “I had a supportive family and school. After coming out, I was quickly able to begin working for better visibility and acceptance of young, non-heterosexual students.”
Family and community support were the keys to unlocking Minnis’ passion for advocacy.
“In the wake of the murder of Matthew Shepherd, small communities were striving to reduce violence and discrimination toward young LGBTQ individuals. Mine was no exception. Our theater department was producing challenging pieces from ‘The Laramie Project’ to ‘Bat Boy.’ Our administration welcomed same-sex couples to prom without question,” said Minnis.
Minnis fondly remembers this time in his life and has not only found solace in it, but humor as well.
“My mother, ever the comedian, responded to my coming out, ‘Thank God! I thought you were on drugs!’ This is how my advocacy began. I learned early on that discrimination and degradation did not have to be the norm. I was lucky,” he said.
Minnis has several projects in the works. One is an unconventional approach to the subjects of safe sex and reducing HIV transmission rates. The project is a coffee table book and campaign called “This Is Sexy,” which promotes the use of condoms and provides valuable information on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections through photographs of people enjoying condoms, sometimes in unexpected ways.
Minnis’ other project aims to ensure the basic human rights of all transgendered men and women in our area.
“I’m in the process of creating a small activist collective with my dear friend Derrick Bachman. We’ve worked together for the HIV/AIDS cause for several years now, and we’re excited to broaden our scope in the near future,” he said. “It’s so new that it doesn’t have a name, but our next campaign will center on encouraging gay men to be stronger allies to the gender-variant community.”