Meet this Orlandoan: Daniel J. Downer, Bros in Convo

Once a week, we’re going to do our best to introduce you to someone, something, or some organization that we think you should know. 

We’re starting with Daniel Downer, the executive director of Bros in Convo Initiative, a community-led organization dedicated to “building, promoting, and protecting the well-being of young GBQ/SGL men of color living in Central Florida”. 

Daniel, what’s your Orlando story? I’m a native! I was born and raised in the Altamonte Springs/Apopka area. I relocated to Atlanta, GA for college and quickly realized how much I loved and missed Central Florida, so as soon as I graduated, I moved back. I lived in Orlando for a few years and now call Sanford home.

How did Bros in Convo get its start? Through an HIV education and prevention micro-grant for what was only supposed to be a six-month sexual health and wellness program for young Black GBQ/SGL men in Central Florida. And two years later (and with more funding) we are here and continue to provide programs and services that educate and empower young Black GBQ/SGL men in Central Florida.

What are you most proud of with Bros in Convo? I am most proud of how we are building capacity and leadership among Central Florida’s young Black GBQ/SGL community. Many of our young men have gone on to do amazing things, creating change and movement in their communities. Oh! And that the work we are doing has been awarded by GLAAD and The Human Rights Campaign.

If you could give one piece of advice to people living in Orlando, what would it be? Um. It is a toss-up between, “Look both ways before crossing the street” and “You can’t fully understand a city without using its public transportation system.” (insert a mic drop)

A friend visits from out of town and you have eight hours to show him/her/they the ropes. Where do you take them and why? Coffee (or Hot Chocolate for me) at Palate Coffee Brewery. Then a short walk (or bike ride) over to Shantell’s for breakfast, they have the best Creamy Coconut Grits and Salmon Croquettes! We’d walk off the food with a tour of the Goldsboro Museum which has an art garden and an art square. Then drive down (or take the Sunrail if it is during the week) to Downtown Winter Park for some pottery fun at All Fired Up! And since we are in the area, why not grab lunch at Prato? A nice bike ride on the Orlando Urban Trail which includes seeing Orlando’s Statue of Liberty (Yes! Orlando has a Statue of Liberty) followed by a kayak adventure on Lake Ivanhoe. Then we’d cool down at Juice’d Orlando and dinner at Ceviche Tapas. (I should have given the disclaimer that I love to eat! LOL!)

You can change only one thing about Orlando. What is it?

Public Transportation! It would be nice if Orlando had a public transit system like Charlotte that allows residents to hop from the bus to train to the bus without long wait times. We have Lynx and Sunrail but there is room for both of them to increase service and frequency of service to be better timed with the lifestyles of Central Florida residents.

Who should our readers follow? And who should we interview next? The Bros in Convo Initiative of course! @brosinconvo. Central Florida Top 5 @centralfltop5, FusionFest @fusionfestorlando, Bungalower @orlandobungalower, and of course Pulptown @pulptown. I would nominate Nicole Elinoff of the League of Women Voters Orange County.

Know someone we should talk to? Or a business or organization all Orlandoans should know? Drop us a line at [email protected] and tell us who/what/why!