My decision to sign up for the ALC was rooted in a number of goals that I set for myself at the beginning of 2018. See my life these past few years has been…difficult. If you have ended up on this page then I am sure you know that I have had my fair share of setbacks, health-wise. From 2013-2016 I had over 55 hours of surgery on my right ankle. I suffered a catastrophic leg-injury and required a total re-break of the ankle/leg years later to fix what was a quickly decaying ankle joint. My rehab process was painful. I had gained over 80 lbs. since the injury and lost virtually all the athleticism I once had. I lost my job, I had to move back in with my parents and found myself at a low-point mentally. In January of 2017, I experienced quite possibly the most stressful day of my life. My parents and I went to visit my doctor with the understanding that there were two possible outcomes to that meeting:
Option 1: The bone-marrow transplant I required to fix my leg was rejected by my body and I would have to undergo a number of surgeries over the next few years to slowly and painstakingly build my leg back from the ground up.
Option 2: The bone-marrow transplant would show signs of bonding with my fibula and I would get to start walking and rehabbing.
I thank God, every day that I was gifted with option 2.
From that moment on, it was like I was shot out of a cannon. In March, I moved to Los Angeles and began my lengthy comeback from this injury. By January of 2018 I had lost about 50 lbs. and was looking for some type of physical competition to motivate me to lose the rest.
In addition to my physical struggles I experienced, I also had some mental hurdles to overcome. If you are a friend of my Mothers, I assume you are aware that I am gay. I started coming out years ago…telling one friend at a time, only if I knew I had dirt on them so they wouldn’t be able to use it “against me.” See I’ve known I was gay since I was in fourth grade but I had been petrified of it until the very second, I came out to my Mom. Laying in my sister’s bed in my parent’s house, with my leg up and in excruciating pain – I had never felt more trapped. It felt like my story, the person I was, would never get to see the light of day. When I got my new lease on life, and moved out west I knew I had to change that. I started living my life as a “openly gay man.” I use quotations there, because the people who matter to me most, my family, remained ignorant to this vital truth. Towards the end of 2017 I changed that. I called my Mom and let her know that I would be in NYC for work and asked her to meet me in the city. She came down from Massachusetts and the two of us went all around the city and we drank. And drank. And drank. I was terrified and knew that I needed to liquor her up so that I could mute her outrage if this didn’t go well. Pam Howie is, after all – a force. We got back to her hotel and ended up at the bar and immediately she picked up that something was off.
“What’s wrong?” she asked. Knowing by my face that something big was happening.
I fumbled with the words but eventually blurted out that I was gay. What followed was a beautiful moment between a mother and her son. There were tears and hugs and a VERY confused bartender who did not know what to do – but above all, there was total and complete acceptance. That night, my Mom told my Dad and he matched her love and kindness over the phone, and over the next few weeks I took the plunge and officially outed myself to the family.
It is not lost on me how fortunate I am to come from the family that I do. We are supportive and protective and deeply care for one another. My coming out story was filled with love and happiness and the realization that every single one of them had my back. I may not have loved myself at that time, but my family did – and that saved me. As I rang in the new year I knew that I had to lean into my community and understand what being gay meant to me.
2017 was a big year for me and my move to Los Angeles was a primary factor in that. I love this city and I love this state. It is endless opportunity surrounded by unlimited beauty. My last goal for 2018 was to explore my new home and see as much of California and the west coast as I could.
To keep fighting to get back in shape, to keep figuring myself out and to keep exploring my new home. These 3 goals as my due north led me to a volunteer meeting at the LA LGBT center in July of 2018.
There I sat in a crowd of fascinating individuals listening to this wonderful non-profit outline all of the ways that we could help those who are less fortunate than us. Then, a video came on the screen and it was a tribute – from those who had suffered devastating loss because of HIV/AIDs thanking the riders of something called the AIDS/Lifecycle. A 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to benefit the LA LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Instantly I knew I was hooked. I anxiously waited for the meeting to wrap so that I could sprint to the signup table and register for this ride. I paid my registration fee and I was in. It wasn’t until 24 hours later that I realized just how aggressive that move was. I did not have a bike, I did not have a plan and I had no idea what to do.
Thankfully those questions have been answered. I now have been training for just about 9 months and am close to the best shape of my life. I’ve lost 100lbs, can comfortably ride 75 miles on the bike and am staring down this challenge head on with confidence and excitement.
To those of you who intend to donate to my ride I say thank you. Thank you for supporting me on this personal journey. Thank you for supporting these wonderful charities, and thank you for supporting this community that I care so deeply about.
With all my love and heartfelt thanks,
PS – If your company has a Matchback program please submit for it! It’s an easy way to double your donation and the steps are super simple (https://www.aidslifecycle.org/matching-gifts/)