LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Tommy Young-Dennis

Mr. Tommy Young-Dennis, HIV activist and LGBTQ+ advocate, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on October 12, 2018, in Omaha, Nebraska. Young-Dennis shared information about his upbringing in Omaha, losing his mom at age seven and being raised by his grandmother, connecting with gay men online as a teenager, being diagnosed as HIV+ in 2010 and becoming an advocate for others with the disease, working at Nebraska AIDS Project (NAP), his involvement with community organizations, and his relationship with husband, Desean., Biographical Sketch: Mr. Tommy Young-Dennis, born in Omaha, Nebraska, is a gay Black man, LGBTQ+ advocate, HIV activist and educator. Young-Dennis studied at Lincoln University (Liberty, Missouri), Metropolitan Community College, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he plans to earn his B.A. in Social Work., After being diagnosed as HIV+ in 2010, Young-Dennis turned his devastation into action. Within three months of his diagnosis, he founded an HIV+ support group for young adults, began volunteering at Nebraska AIDS Project, and dedicated his time to supporting and educating others living with the disease. In 2017, Young-Dennis joined the Nebraska AIDS Project (NAP) full-time as their Prevention and Outreach Specialist, where he does onsite testing, connects with community partners, and focuses on providing resources and education to the Black MSM community (Men who have sex with men), a population disproportionately affected by HIV., In addition to his work at NAP, Young-Dennis is the co-chair of the North Omaha Community Care Council's Youth and Outreach Committee. He is also a founding member of Kingdom Builders Christian Center, where he sings in the choir and is a former board member. In 2018, Young-Dennis was a recipient of the Young Black and Influential Award, a recognition given to outstanding leaders in Omaha's Black community. Young-Dennis lives in Omaha with his husband, Desean., Interview Summary: Mr. Tommy Young-Dennis, HIV activist and LGBTQ+ advocate, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on October 12, 2018, in Omaha, Nebraska. Young-Dennis was born in Omaha in the late 1980's and has two sisters. At age seven, Young-Dennis lost his mother and was raised by his grandmother, with whom he had a close relationship. Within his family and at school, Young-Dennis was called homophobic slurs for being effeminate, and he knew he was "different," but did not have the words to describe his identity. In high school, Young-Dennis had his first romantic gay experiences, but kept his sexuality under wraps. Shortly after graduating, Young-Dennis's family members discovered he was gay after he accidentally left a gay chat website open on the family computer. Although not the ideal way to come out, Young-Dennis' grandmother and family accepted him as he was., Young-Dennis worked for First Data Corporation from 2008-2017, moving his way up over the years. In 2010, Young-Dennis had an acne breakout and decided to see a dermatologist, who eventually diagnosed him as being HIV+. Young-Dennis was devastated and almost attempted suicide, but with the support of his loved ones, he managed to turn his grief into action and a passion to help others with HIV. Within just three months of his diagnosis, he founded an HIV+ support group for young adults, began volunteering at Nebraska AIDS Project, and dedicated his time to supporting and educating others living with the disease., An essential part of Young-Dennis' support network was his good friend (now husband), Desean. Young-Dennis and Desean met while they both worked at First Data Corporation, but his diagnosis brought him closer to Desean, transforming their friendship into a romantic relationship. In 2011, they married in Council Bluffs, Iowa., In 2017, after years of volunteer work and community education on HIV, Young-Dennis joined the Nebraska AIDS Project (NAP) full-time as their Prevention and Outreach Specialist. In this position, he does onsite testing, connects with community partners, and focuses on providing resources and education to the Black MSM community (Men who have sex with men), a population disproportionately affected by HIV., In this interview, Young-Dennis also discusses his time working at First Data Corporation, living day-to-day with HIV, and the impact of his HIV+ diagnosis on his faith., Interview Notes, Trigger warning for discussion of suicide and death., UNO Libraries' Archives & Special Collections
View this Object: https://library.unomaha.edu/_audio/UNO-0240_Tommy-Young-Dennis.html
Abstract/Description: Mr. Tommy Young-Dennis, HIV activist and LGBTQ+ advocate, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on October 12, 2018, in Omaha, Nebraska. Young-Dennis shared information about his upbringing in Omaha, losing his mom at age seven and being raised by his grandmother, connecting with gay men online as a teenager, being diagnosed as HIV+ in 2010 and becoming an advocate for others with the disease, working at Nebraska AIDS Project (NAP), his involvement with community organizations, and his relationship with husband, Desean.
Subject(s): Queer Omaha Archives
Sexual minorities -- Nebraska -- Omaha
Interviews
Oral histories (document genres)
Tag: audio
Tag: LGBTQIA+
Tag: Oral History
Date Created: 2018-10-12

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