Thank you for joining me in this cause! I’m excited to share my AIDS/LifeCycle journey with you.
In the summer of 2014 I had moved north of my native city of Melbourne to perform in Sydney, a verbatim theatre show called the Death fo Kings, (written by Colette f Keen.) The show follows various stories, taken from the mouths of survivors of the Aids epidemic as it ripped through Sydney Australia,
I had just graduated drama school and was cast in this show the very same day that I left university, and it felt like a blessing to have the opportunity to be working with real content, content that was not only true, but content that came from the mouths of elders of my queer community and that covered such important content such as AIDS.
We were fortunate in our timing of the show, as the international AIDS conference was happening in Melbourne later that same year, and more than ever there was willingness for the arts sectors to pay a kind attention to the landscape of AIDS and the stories that shape our history, so while we were in season of the theatre piece, a national documentary was also being filmed to capture the landscape of HIV in Australia in 2014, and to draw a comparison to that of AIDS in Australia in the 1980’s.
We performed the show on Oxford street, in Sydney, which is equivalent to the Castro, and right below our theatre was a rapid testing site. I had gone in for my routine 3 month check up and had received a negative HIV rapid test. On valentines day, I received a call from the clinic asking me to come in as I had tested positive for Gonorrhea of the throat. In that moment I had thought it was serendipitous and strange as the character that I played in Death of Kings also receives a diagnosis for Gonorrhea of the throat. Life imitating art I thought, but when I got to the clinic the nurse informed me that actually, the more pressing reason I was called in was for a positive result for HIV. Something that also happened to my character. LIFE imitating ART imitating LIFE.
Nothing quite prepares you for such a moment, sound drops away to a numb murmur, times slows to a crawl and you are left with your heart beat bouncing in your throat. I knew that day that I had purpose within the virus and that my receiving this diagnosis was a gift in responsibility and custodianship. I went back on stage, finished the season, now speaking my actual story hidden in the words of the character I played, but I knew more needed to be said, and I knew if I wanted to guide the narrative, my narrative, I needed to be loud, and proud, and tell people how to feel, show them that stigma is the true diagnosis, and that we no longer need to live in shame and silence.
The documentary that filmed our theatre show found out about my diagnosis and approached me, almost overnight I had become a national advocate for HIV in Australia, it was such enriching work, and for a time I revelled in it, but also I wanted to manage my own trauma, so after a year of writing opinion pieces and touring around the documentary and being a public face of a disease that in many cases can strike fear in people, I decided to step back, so I moved to Sydney and got a job at the very same clinic that diagnosed me, I worked there testing and diagnosing until I moved to Hollywood in 2018. I loved it there so much, such privileged work. Client by client, having the opportunity to communicate about sexual fears and stigmas, and help people become more accepting of themselves and their identities and practices.
It was during my time in AIDs advocacy that I first heard about the AIDS life Cycle, and I decided back then, that one day I would do the ride myself, so after moving to America to pursue my artistic career and after the whirlwind off the pandemic I thought, now is the perfect time, NOW is a better time than any to join the aids LIFE cycle, for I know the importance of shared humanity, of care, of love, and it is through these qualities that we grow stronger as communities, through community engagement we better understand our place and therefore our responsibility not only to ourselves but to our whole community, for it is up to us to bring each other up, and through the times we are living in. The past contextualizes our path to our shared future and together we can end Aids. Help me by making a DONATION and supporting my RIDE.
I’ll be working throughout the year in support of the life-saving services offered by San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
The services provided as a result of my fundraising efforts include counseling, HIV/STD screenings, linking youth experiencing homelessness and people living with HIV to housing, and so much more. By supporting this cause, you take a stand against stigma, helping to create a world where health justice is a reality for everyone.
These services mean the world to those who receive them, and your support means the world to me.
We’re working together to make HIV/AIDS a thing of the past. Will you support me by making a donation today?