Honoring the Life and Legacy of Stephaun Elite Wallace
Updated: Sep 22
It is with heartfelt sadness that we remember the life and legacy of Dr. Stephaun Elite Wallace, an inspiring mentor who touched the lives of many in the LGBT community. He was a pioneering figure in advocating for people living with HIV, appearing at the White House to represent his cause. In addition to his advocacy work, Dr. Wallace was a dedicated mentor to black gay men like myself, offering guidance and support through both his words and actions.
Dr. Stephaun and I first crossed paths in the vibrant city of Atlanta, Georgia, when I was only 19 years old. During those formative years, our conversations were a whirlwind of thoughts and reflections. He patiently allowed me to voice every fleeting idea that fluttered through my mind within the span of a minute, serving as a willing audience to my youthful energy. But it was his gentle yet firm challenges that truly honed my intellectual and emotional growth. He pushed the boundaries of my comprehension, nudging me to delve deeper into issues, to think critically, and to view the world through a lens of empathy. Dr. Wallace didn’t just set high expectations; he encouraged me to set them for myself, propelling me towards a path of lifelong learning and compassion. His mentorship was a gift, teaching me not just to navigate the world as a black gay man, but to leverage my identity to instigate change and create opportunities for others.
At that time, Dr. Wallace was serving as an outreach coordinator for a local non-profit, relentlessly working for the betterment of the community. Meanwhile, I was a remote college student teetering on the precipice of dropping out. The academic pressure coupled with the struggle of reconciling my identity felt unbearable. But, it was in this tumultuous period that Dr. Wallace stepped in, radiating a beacon of hope and reassurance. His unwavering confidence in my potential, his constant encouragement, and his real-world experiences that he so generously shared, helped me stay the course. It was not just his achievements, like earning his doctorate from the renowned University of Washington, that inspired me, but also his perseverance, his resilience, and his indefatigable spirit to facilitate change. His life served as a testament that we could transcend our personal circumstances and use our dynamic identities to effect change and create opportunities, not just for ourselves but also for those who will follow in our footsteps.
Dr. Wallace received his doctorate at Walden University in Washington DC, where he studied gender, sexuality and HIV/AIDS. He was instrumental in creating spaces for LGBT youth of color to gather, connect and build community with one another. In addition, he worked to create awareness about the intersection of HIV/AIDS and other social issues such as racism, poverty and homophobia. I was fortunate enough to be present in D.C. at his graduation, an event that filled me with immense joy and pride. Seeing Dr. Wallace receiving his doctorate from Walden University was a testament to his resilience and dedication. It was a momentous occasion that amplified his commitment to creating dialogue and understanding around the issues that touch the lives of those in the LGBT community, particularly those of color. His graduation was not just an academic achievement, but a beacon of hope for many of us, a signal that with perseverance, tenacity, and unwavering dedication to one's cause, we too can overcome the odds and make significant strides in our chosen paths.
One of the most memorable experiences I had with Dr. Wallace was when I accompanied him, his brother, and his cousin on a deeply personal journey to Southern California. We were there to spread the ashes of his beloved mother off the coast. The air was heavy with both sorrow and a profound sense of peace as we stood together on the beach as Stephaun's younger brother swam out to sea with the urn. When the time came, we watched as he released the ashes. It was a somber moment, punctuated with silent tears and the comforting squeeze of hands held tight one each others shoulders. But amidst the grief, there was a kind of beauty in this last goodbye, a testament to the enduring bond of love that even death could not sever. This was another facet of Dr. Wallace's character - his ability to find and impart strength and grace in the most challenging of times. In that moment, he taught us that even in the face of loss, we can find strength in our memories, solace in our shared experiences, and hope in the continuity of life.
Throughout his life, Dr. Wallace taught us that our dynamic identities can empower us to create change in the world around us. He was a passionate advocate for social justice and human rights, working tirelessly to ensure that all people have the resources they need to live their best lives. His legacy will continue to inspire and guide us for generations to come.
We will miss Dr. Stephaun Elite Wallace dearly, but are thankful for his contributions in making the world a better place. Let us honor him with our words and actions, remembering what he stood for and striving to create the kind of change he believed in.
Rest in Power, Stephaun Elite Wallace! Your legacy lives on!
How to Honor Dr. Stephaun Elite Wallace?
Let us honor Dr. Wallace’s life and legacy by supporting causes that he was passionate about. We can support organizations working towards social justice and human rights, or volunteer