Stovall’s legacy

May 2, 2023


Film Still by Ryan_Adams

Javon Stovall participates in a Zoom meeting from his apartment in Miami, Fla., on Friday, May 7, 2021.

“Lost in the In-Between” is dedicated to Javon Stovall, another graduate featured in the documentary. He died unexpectedly in November 2021, just months after filming ended.

Mariah Roller, a close friend of Stovall who is also featured in the film, described him as someone who took up a lot of space in a room and made even the most mundane activity fun.

The two met during Roller’s freshman year and later went on to participate in several student organizations together, including the UI’s Student Advisory Committee on Sexual Misconduct.

In 2019, Roller stepped away from school and moved to Florida — a decision she attributes to Stovall.

“He was one of the first people that really told me that I can do better than small-town Iowa,” Roller said. “You know, that’s not really something that I had ever considered for myself.”

“Lost in the In-Between” followed Stovall during his own move to Florida. For the first month, Stovall slept on a couch in Roller’s apartment after arrangements for his apartment fell through at the last minute. Despite the chaos of the time, Roller said she wouldn’t have traded that month for anything in the world.

“I was, in hindsight, really lucky — selfishly — that that had happened,” Roller said. “Because I got to spend an extra month with, you know, one of my favorite people on Earth.”

Once he found a place in Miami, Stovall pursued a master’s in higher education at Florida International University. Roller said he continued to make an impact on his community even after the documentary cameras stopped rolling. While at FIU, Stovall was heavily involved in the university’s Pride Center.

Two scholarships have been awarded in Stovall’s name: the Javon A. Stovall Memorial Scholarship at FIU and the Javon Stovall Leadership Hawkeye Legacy Award at the UI. Roller said Stovall would be happy to see them go to people who exemplify the issues he fought hardest for as a queer and disabled person of color.

“Javon put himself in rooms with important people, and he wasn’t afraid to share his identity,” Roller said. “So, he made sure people knew those things about himself. Not just so he could be the gay guy or the Black guy, but because he wanted people to know that you can succeed in those roles and in those identities.”

Roller said she looks forward to seeing the film so she can revisit a pivotal part of her and Stovall’s lives.

“I’m really glad that the world is going to get to see some of him, even if it’s briefly,” Roller said.

The Daily Iowan • Copyright 2024 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in