I NEVER EXPECTED TO LIVE THIS LONG!
Certainly not to be in the unique situation I’m in today.
In 1985 I came to terms with my sexuality, and was pretty sure I wasn’t going to live long. Time Magazine’s cover featured “AIDS the Growing Threat”. I moved away from my hometown in '89 to distance myself so I could figure the gay thing out, and live an authentic life. I realized quickly that the friends I made soon were dying off at an alarming rate. Faces I saw regularly were disappearing. I quietly wondered,
"When will it be my turn? When will my face no longer be around? Will someone notice that I am no longer in attendance?"
It was a very dark time, not just for me, but for many of us. At that time, it took a week to get our AIDS test results, and those were the longest 7 days of our lives. Education was all about safe sex and levels of risk.
20 years later I was in a relationship with a man who is positive. We had a condom malfunction and I found myself in the ER being asked embarrassing personal questions, being treated poorly, sex shamed, and talked down upon for my perceived indiscretion. I smiled politely so I could be placed on the “Post Exposure Treatment” program. I was grateful even if I knew the likelihood of transmission was small. However, the exchange at the ER affected me: I was made to feel dirty and careless for expressing love for a man I cared about. For the next 30 days I experienced waves of nausea and flu-like symptoms from the medication. Knowing how I was treated at the ER I vowed to myself that this experience would stay with me until my grave...until now. The experience changed me profoundly.
30 days later I left on a trip of a lifetime - diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I got the test results from my doctor when I landed halfway around the world. I was Negative. The stress all boiled over and I was a puddle. I could no longer contain myself.
I was contacted by The San Francisco AIDS Foundation letting me know that because of my potential exposure, PREP (PreExposure Prophylaxis “Truvada”) was available to me if I wanted to participate in a study.
I said Yes… For the first time since coming out I was living without fear or question about HIV/AIDS.
However, for my friends living with the HIV stigma and misinformation, it is real and still painful.
People ask me why I ride, and my answer is usually superficial… To end AIDS... The answer is so much deeper. I ride for all of those who are no longer with us. I ride for all my friends living with HIV/AIDS. I ride to provide education to prevent someone from being exposed. I ride to provide awareness to end the stigma. I ride to provide services to those in need. I ride with 3,000 of the most incredible Riders, Roadies, Volunteers, & Staff... TO END AIDS!
I’m asking for your support to help me raise $15,000 before I ride. I’m asking you to donate as generous as you possibly can. (And to spread the word about my journey and this cause.)
The people who rely on these services to survive, every dollar counts, and every dollar brings me one step closer to hitting my goal.
Thank you for making this personal goal a reality for me and for being the support that I need to cross the finish line on June 9th. Together, we can make a difference.
With love and gratitude,
Rider 1566 ROLLING!!!