Darren Manzella was a dear friend of mine and so is his husband, Javier Laperia. Tragically, on August 29th, 2013 around 8:30pm Darren was killed in a car accident. To say I am heartbroken could be an understatement, so in turn, I cannot imagine how Javier must feel.
Darren served in the National Guard. While serving in Iraq he did a 60-minute interview with CNN to discuss his sexual orientation. As a result he was discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Darren stood up for himself and for all of us who have come out to the world. He should be the face of inspiration and the courage for anyone battling with acceptance and honesty of their sexual orientation. He stood up for his own right and he did so not to gain attention or popularity but because it was the right thing to do. Upon his death a majority of my close friends, whom knew Darren or met him, never knew about his key role in the DADT policies. Darren never once indulged or bragged about it and rarely did he even talk about it. That was just the type of person he was, it wasn’t for his own recognition, perhaps that’s what makes the story of his life all the more amazing.
I remember once, when he was living on Harvard Street with a group of my friends, they were having a party and a kid who came started a fight at the house. Darren came downstairs to break it up and get the kid to leave and ended up getting punched in the face by him. He finally did get the kid to leave and days later still had a horrid black eye from the event. After many of us told him to go to the doctor he did and ended up discovering his cheekbone was broken, which required surgery. That was just the person he was though, trying to help out anyone even if it put him in danger – if someone else, especially his friends, needed help he was the first one to be there for you.
Darren and Javier (Or Javvy, as a handful of us call him) were married on July 5th at a beautiful ceremony in Rochester, NY. They wrote their own personal vows and called each other best friends. Words like honor and proud were said aloud in front of many of us. To spend time planning a wedding and not even two months later to be planning a funeral for the one you love most in the world is something that no one should ever have to go through. I started this charity because while Javier finishes up school and overcomes these awful days, he shouldn’t have to worry about paying the rent.
The biggest single donation will be given an original painting of Canandaigua Lake 13x17 by Howard VanBuren III
The second biggest donation will be given a print of the "Brown Dock" 12x18 by Howard VanBuren Jr.
Please see www.vanburen-art.com for reference.
I opened this account with my information and will change it over as soon as I get Javvy’s information. I will update this once that happens.