David Feaster, Community Investment Officer at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, is a leader in the Kalamazoo LGBTQIATS+ community. Feaster helps manage the LGBTQ Equality Fund at the Foundation, which grants funds to address LGBTQ needs in the community.
FINDING HIS WAY
A New Jersey native, Feaster was the youngest of three kids. Growing up, he ran with a core group of neighborhood friends. They often moved as a unit to avoid bullying- which was not uncommon when they were alone.
He shares, “…we did all the nerdy stuff in school: band, theater, science club.
“My parents tried to get me involved with Boy Scouts and that sort of thing, but it wasn’t a good fit … I was not made to feel welcome in those environments.”
Feaster excelled academically and attended Rutgers University on scholarship earning degrees in English Literature and Psychology. Serving as president of the Rutgers Gay Alliance for a number of years, Feaster emerged as a campus public health advocate when AIDS emerged as a new disease.
“I gathered all the information I could find to share with students about AIDS and arranged to have speakers come to campus. This was early on … well before we even called it AIDS.” Feaster was at the forefront, advocating for his community then and now.
THE AIDS EPIDEMIC
After graduating, Feaster moved to Phoenix, AZ where he worked as a counselor for adults with developmental disabilities and severe mental illness. He also volunteered for the Arizona AIDS Fund Trust. Through this work, Feaster supported the needs of folks with AIDS who faced abandonment from their families. He was instrumental in the creation of some of the initial HIV training for healthcare staff and families.
Feaster also fielded a 24-hour AIDS hotline. From his own home.
In the 90s, Feaster made his way to Kalamazoo, where he continued his public health and advocacy work joining CARES (Community AIDS Resource and Education Services). He shared his talents and expertise doing everything from health education to prevention, testing, community outreach, case management, and eventually served as Executive Director.
AT THE FOREFRONT, AGAIN
In 2015, David Feaster married his longtime partner, Professor Jeffrey Angles. They were the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Kalamazoo County, by then-Mayor Bobby Hopewell, in Bronson Park. Read the MLive coverage of that historic moment here.
GIVING BACK “BY LIVING AN OUT LIFE”
When asked how he gives back to the community, Feaster explains, “I give back every day, through my work, and by living an out life. It is so important for there to be openly gay and visibly happy people in the world …
“I hope others who are struggling, like I was when I was young, can see a happy, gay, out man who lived a happy life full of friends and joy and understand that such a life is also possible for them.”