Joe Mannetti

Joe Mannetti

Joe started out in early life wanting to be an actor, something he still carries with him today. He now lives in St. Petersburg but life has taken in from New York to Los Angeles to Connecticut and now Florida.

Today, Joe, who has a master’s degree in counseling, works in a home for wayward LGBTQ youth as a Youth Development Counselor. It’s a challenging job and he tries to help them overcome what he sees as a large sense of entitlement issues in today’s youth. “I want to do something to celebrate and give back to the community.” Joe also works fundraising for various causes close to his heart.

Joe is a self-described member of the bear community and he takes every opportunity to bring awareness to what he feels is a segment of the LGBTQ spectrum that often goes without mention and has little understanding. In his earlier days, Joe started bartending and waiting tables in LA. He soon became involved at the LGBT Center in Los Angeles through volunteering. He was introduced to Gail Rolf and Virginia Uribe who were the founders of Project 10, this country’s firs program geared to help LGBT youth.

Joe knew he needed more than just a desire to volunteer; he needed a platform for fundraising. He found his outlet in the bear community through contests where he won several titles. In 2006 he won Mr. Southern CA Cub, 2008 – Mr. LA Bear and Mr. Southern CA Bear, and in 2009 he won Mr. International Daddy Bear. These titles not only helped Joe connect more to the bear and leather communities but he became a public speaker in schools advocating for the communities he represented. “I feel there is a lack of male gay role models for kids to identify with. All they see is Ru Paul’s Drag Race and think becoming a drag queen is the only viable option open to them. I want to reach all kids with my message, particularly kids of color who seem the most at risk today.”  Joe also blogs and has an anti-bullying blog he promotes. His work has allowed him to reach into the HIV/AIDS youth service network, the transvestite community, and he’s worked with those suffering from crystal meth addiction.

Joe went back to his dream of being an actor and appeared in a horror-comedy film in 2014 for which he was awarded best lead actor at the San Diego Film Festival. Joe feels today’s leather community embraces inclusiveness, fosters a dialogue that facilitates appropriate sexual behavior, and teaches respect while being radically present. Similarly, the bear community, for Joe, represents an older segment of the entire LGBTQ community that is very important and has much of offer.