Obituary: Lawrence Frazier, former COLOURS leader, 39

— from The Philadelphia Gay News by Jen Colletta
Lawrence Frazier
Lawrence Frazier

Lawrence Frazier, a longtime employee of The COLOURS Organization and a fixture in the ballroom community, died April 10 of natural causes. He was 39.

Frazier served as director of operations for COLOURS, an LGBT and HIV/AIDS service organization geared toward people of color, until 2014, when he stepped down for health reasons. He continued to work as a consultant for HIV-prevention, ballroom and transgender-awareness projects.

The Connecticut native started with COLOURS in 2008 as a health educator, transitioning from his career as a medical assistant.

“Lawrence just loved the work,” said COLOURS executive director Mark Wilson. “He loved doing HIV-prevention and working with the community.”

His passion for community involvement dovetailed with his work with the ballroom community. In 2000, he cofounded House of Blahnik with longtime best friend Damon L. Humes.

“It was a house developed to break down the racial divides in the ballroom community between African-Americans and Latinos,” Humes said. “The house ballroom community spoke to his experience of feeling that divide. He felt compelled to do something. This was a community he grew up in, and he became a legend in that community.”

Frazier served as father of the Philadelphia chapter of House of Blahnik. He led education presentations, promoted HIV-prevention activities and provided direction for ballroom retreats, in addition to sitting on the national executive board of the organization.

He was affectionately known as “Fuzzy” by his fellow Blahnik members.

Friend and colleague Lee Carson said Frazier was a role model for younger members of the community.

“Lawrence knew intimately how difficult things are for young black and Hispanic people, given his connection to the ballroom scene and of course due to the population that COLOURS was serving during his time there,” Caron said. “Lawrence had a belief that it is important for a person’s spirit to be nurtured and renewed.”

Carson said Frazier would often post words of encouragement on his Facebook page for anyone who might be going through a tough time.

“He simply wanted to help make the lives of others better and he was able to do that through his work in the ballroom community and through COLOURS,” Carson said.

At COLOURS, Frazier worked closely with executive director Robert Burns, who passed away suddenly in 2011. Wilson said Frazier stepped up to take on more responsibility in Burns’ absence.

“He really became second in command,” Wilson said. “He looked over all operations, made sure staff was trained, made sure the bills got paid. During some challenging times for the organization, during a period where there was no executive director, Lawrence stepped up.”

Frazier’s leadership was inspiring to many younger people, Wilson said. He said he considered him a mentor.

“Lawrence and Rob were the people who introduced me to COLOURS. They were both role models and mentors,” Wilson said. “Lawrence impacted a lot of young people, a lot of young leaders. A lot of people respected him.”

COLOURS lead prevention specialist Will T. McNeil said Frazier could always be counted on to be honest and straightforward.

“He was true to who he was and stood firm in what he believed,” McNeil said. “He put his truth into his work.”

“He was a gentle soul, who was very honest and direct,” Carson added. “You would know how Lawrence felt about things because he’d tell you. If there was something he disagreed with, he’d tell you that, so you always knew where you stood with him. He was a caring man who wanted others to live as good of a life as they could.”

That generosity evinced itself after Frazier was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Humes said he got involved in Facebook groups for other people dealing with the condition, and shared his own story and advice.

“He was always giving,” Humes said. “He was a hero, and a loyal friend. We had a 24-year friendship and he never wavered, not one time. He just had such a strong belief in others; even if he was wronged, he gave folks another chance. He always believed people could do better. He didn’t have room for negativity.”

Outside of his community work, Frazier was passionate about gospel music and was an avid traveler, recently visiting the Bahamas, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Puerto Rico.

In addition to his COLOURS and House of Blahnik families, Frazier is survived by a brother, Samuel, and a sister, Tonya.

A memorial will be held 2 p.m. April 16 at May Funeral Home, 4075 Haverford Ave.

Memorial donations can be made in Frazier’s name to the House of Blahnik Scholarship Fund, c/o Abounding Prosperity, Inc., 2311 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Dallas, Texas 75215.

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