Honorees

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Joe Mannetti

Joe Mannetti is both an actor and activist. He is a dedicated fundraiser and advocate for HIV/AIDS support services and organizations that help LGBTQ youth, and has worked to improve services for Transgender people and addiction recovery for individuals challenged by crystal meth addiction. Winner of numerous Bear titles, Joe has used the spotlight to promote services and outreach that support our communities.

Joe is a Goodwill Ambassador for the DAB the AIDS Bear Project. He received a Plaque of Appreciation from the Board of the Alliance for Living organization in New London, CT for his outreach and fundraising for them in 2009. He was also voted Best Bear Fundraiser in 2009 and 2010 in two annual international polls.

Bear titles he won while living in California include Mr. Southern California Cub 2006, Mr. Long Beach Pride Bear/Cub 2008, Mr. Los Angeles Bear 2008, Mr. Southern California Bear 2008, and Mr. International Daddy Bear 2009. In 2010 he received the Justice-Love Award from the Metropolitan Community Church in the Valley (Los Angeles) for “outstanding service to the LGBT community” modeling Micah 6:8 “to do justice, to love compassion, and walk humbly with God.” LGBT Leather community icon Sandy “Mama” Reinhardt pinned him as “MAMA’S CARE BEAR” in 2011.

Joe is a certified HIV Testing Counselor, a Health Educator, speaks often on LGBT related issues and homophobia, and is a Mental Health Counselor. He put himself through graduate school on a tuition reimbursement program and a scholarship, earning a Master of Science degree in Counseling. Joe has worked as an HIV Testing Counselor and outreach advocate for AIDS Project New Haven. He currently works in as a Mental Health Counselor at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London.

Joe remains a “work in progress.” His main focus continues to be supporting diversity and those who lead by “daring to be different.”