by Tricia Dewey | photos from tuvmag.com
When you can’t trust the leaders of your church to create a place at the table for you, sometimes, you just create your own banquet. Such was the case for Dr. Davin Clemons. Born in Memphis, Clemons is a self- described public servant, civil rights activist, religious trailblazer, human rights advocate, community leader, and…future politician.
His early experiences in the Christian church, such as being ostracized by trusted religious leaders, influenced him to take charge of his own Christian experience. As an adult, he enrolled in Memphis Theological Seminary where he earned both masters and doctorate degrees in Leadership in Ministry. Clemons says he broadened his theological base and shifted his theological paradigm to ‘liberation theology.’
According to BBC.com, Liberation theology says that the church should derive its legitimacy and theology by growing out of the poor. The Bible should be read and experienced from the perspective of the poor. The church should be a movement for those who were denied their rights and plunged into such poverty that they were deprived of their full status as human
beings. The poor should take the example of Jesus and use it to bring about a just society.
To that end, In August 2012, Dr. Darnell Gooch Jr., and Dr. Davin D. Clemons opened The Cathedral as a place for spiritual restoration and refuge for all people regardless of their differences, the first ministry in Memphis intentionally centered around ministry to the African- American LGBTQ community. In 2016, Dr. Clemons and Dr. Gooch co-founded The Cathedral Foundation, responding to the needs of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in their community by providing direct services and support. As Executive Director of The Cathedral Foundation, Dr. Clemons oversees their yearly convention of TriState Black Gay Pride, launched in 2017 to showcase unity, outreach, and empowerment.
In 2014, Dr. Clemons along with his mother and business partner Gwendolyn D. Clemons founded The Unleashed Voice Media Firm, consisting of The Unleashed Voice Radio Show, The Unleashed Voice Magazine, and Relationship Unleashed, a 501c3 nonprofit that provides year-round comprehensive programming for the LGBTQ community. Dr. Clemons is also
an 18-year employee of Memphis Police Department and currently serves as its LGBTQ Liaison. Among his many efforts, Dr. Clemons joined Clergy Defining Rights for All and played an integral role in winning an anti-discrimination workplace protection for LGBTQ employees of The City of Memphis. In 2019, Dr. Clemons announced his candidacy for Memphis City Council District 6. Although unsuccessful in his bid for public office, his zeal and passion for his community won the popular vote.
After reading Steve Harvey’s book, Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success, Clemons and his mother were inspired to act. “The book ignited a fire inside of us, giving us the boost we needed to walk in our gifts,” Clemons said.
“Our plans for the future include completing our book, opening our media marketing firm, running for public office again, and hosting The Unleashed Voice national television show.
“The one message I have for the readers is, get your freedom/liberation by any means necessary.”
Dr. Davin Clemons’ recent accolades include: 2020 Business Equality Advocate Pride 40 LGBTQ+/SGL Leaders; 2019 Tennessee Pride of Champion Award by The Advocate Magazine; 2019 Business Owner of the Year for Hope of Light Award honored for Outstanding HIV/AIDS Advocacy by The Shelby County Health Department; 2018 Black Power 100 Top LGBTQ Professional; Top 40 Under 40 for Most Influential Urban and Elite Professionals in Memphis, TN in 2018; Radio Show Hosts of The Year 2017; Black LGBTQ Magazine of the Year 2017; Keynote Speaker at Calvary Episcopal Church’s Lenten Preaching Series in 2014.