From May 31st to June 6th, I'll be one of a few thousand cyclists riding 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise funds for life saving services offered by San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. This is my first year in the ALC ride - honestly, my first year doing any serious cycling.
I've been training hard - spin classes, weekend training rides, diet, trips to the Trek bike shop, and acclimating to wearing spandex in public. It's fun and challenging and so different from riding around as a kid.
Just as important is fundraising for an important cause.
I came of age after the initial waves of the AIDS crisis hit the gay community, and so have had less first hand knowledge than others. Even so, there are key moments that formed my education and awareness.
One that stands out: about 15 years ago, when I moved back to Seattle after a few years on the East Coast, I shared a house with Bill Thieleman; we'd met through some Seattle Men's Chorus friends who knew he had a mother in law apartment for rent. As we got to know each other, we sometimes talked about the shared experience of having lived in New York City. Though a generation ahead of me, there were enough touch points for it to be a fun discussion of favorite places, activities, and life.
At some point, I remarked that I loved going back now as a non-resident; knowing the city so well and having friends to look up when visiting Manhattan made me feel particularly cosmopolitan. Bill sighed, and simply remarked: "No one I knew when I lived there is still alive."
It was a stark reality I had not experienced directly, but the loss of human potential is incalculable...and I have often wondered about what they would have done and contributed to the world. While the landscape has changed, the reality is that the needs within our community are still there - and our greatest success in meeting them has come from each other. The services provided as a result of this event mean the world to those who receive them, and your support means the world to me.