Why You Need to See Joe DiMauro Speak This Sunday
In case you haven’t heard, Joe Dimauro is coming to Bryant University on March 5th to speak about mental health and LGBTQ rights. He is a 22 year old entrepreneur and activist who has started his own foundation called Project Fearless, as well as his own clothing company called Para Dylan. He was kind enough to answer some questions about himself, his mission, and what he’ll be talking about when he comes to speak with student at his discussion panel.
HC: So, where are you from, where did you go to college, and what exactly is Mr. Gay Rhode Island?
Joe: I’m from Warwick, Rhode Island. I went to school for a year after I graduated high school in 2012, but then left and began working full-time in politics as a Regional Field Director and Grassroots Coordinator. Mr. Gay Rhode Island is a title that you make your own journey of. The obligations consist of hosting fundraisers throughout the year and charitable work. But I really wanted to focus on issues, so I used my platform to talk about Mental Health.
HC: What was your favorite experience as Mr. Gay Rhode Island?
Joe: This has been an incredible experience, I’ve had the pleasure and honor to meet incredible people and do what I never thought I would do. But I think the highlight of my reign has been a private message I received from a complete stranger who thanked me for the work that I had been doing behind Mental Health. They said “because of you, I now know how to tell my fiancé that I’m depressed. I’m ready to get help for it, too”. It makes me tear every time i think about it.
HC: What exactly do you plan on talking about when you visit, and why is it so important to understand?
Joe: I plan to talk about my personal journey with anxiety, depression, and anorexia. I think the more I can share my story, the more aware younger people can be about similar struggles they could be having. I wish I had someone to tell me why I am the way that I am, I wish I didn’t have to find out in a hospital bed. I just hope every time I share my stories, at least one person can walk away feeling like they know a little more about Mental Health, and even found hope if they’re currently struggling.
HC: What was coming out like for you?
Joe: I’m very fortunate to have had a great support system. I think my worst enemy was myself. I’m excited to share why.
HC: Tell us about Project Fearless; what’s your mission, do you host events/any upcoming events? Has it faced any challenges?
Joe: Project Fearless is a non-profit I am launching in late March. It’s primary focus is to bring awareness to Mental Health disorders, and direct aspiring patients to suitable LGBTQ welcoming/experienced therapists in the area. Also, for patients who may not have insurance, Project Fearless will help pay for their copays. It’s certainly been a project to start, it’s something I’m very passionate about so I’ve pushed through the obstacles it took to get it to where it is right now.
HC: What inspires you to be an advocate for mental illnesses?
Joe: When I was first diagnosed with Depression, I was 16. I didn’t think I’d make it past my 21st birthday- I was sure then, that I would lose my battle. Last summer I celebrated my 22nd birthday around family and friends and it was the most gratifying and empowering moment, to be able to reflect on my life and my battle. I hope my advocacy can help someone realize that they can pick the pieces up, they can get the help they deserve and that they can thrive, they can succeed and most importantly, they can lead.
HC: What inspired you to be an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community?
Joe: I think personally, it’s a disservice to the community- to be LGBTQ and not fight for equality. To be openly LGBTQ is a form of activism, but why stop there?
HC: What motivated you to create Para Dylan?
Joe: Para Dylan is a charity online clothing line I started. Originally the name was supposed to be “Fearless Wear” but in September my cousin Dylan, at the age of 23, was the victim of a homicide. It hit our family extremely hard. He was a father to a 4 year old girl, and his second child is due in late March. I called the clothing line “Para Dylan” translated from Spanish (I’m half Colombian) it means “For Dylan” because the first two months of sales, all proceeds went to my cousin’s fiance and their daughter. I saw it as a way to keep his name apart of something near and dear to me, and to support his growing family.
Please come out and see Joe share his inspirational story this Sunday, March 5th, in room 2A/B (in Fisher) at 7pm. He’s an amazing speaker and is looking forward to meet Bryant Students.