How old were you at the start of the AIDS epidemic?
A few months old.
How did you first learn about HIV?
Freddie Mercury is one of my idols and his death was how I first learned about HIV. I soon started to see more PSA’s on MTV, which educated me about the epidemic and the stigma. George Michael then played a huge part in influencing me to keep learning through his various AIDS campaigns.
Where were you when you first learned about the AIDS epidemic?
Saudi Arabia. I remember as a kid handing out red ribbons on World AIDS Day at this super conservative religious school, trying to educate everyone.
What does the 25th year of riding to end AIDS mean to you personally?
HIV/AIDS awareness has always been important to me, but as I started to know more people living with HIV I went from being a passive ally to a strong activist. ALC has been an amazing platform to let my friends know I am there for them as well as an opportunity to strike up conversations with people to help educate them. I’m excited to join ALC on this silver anniversary and hope to be a part of it for many years to come.
What effect has the AIDS epidemic had on you or someone you know?
One of my closest friends wasn’t able to be themselves and have a “normal” life as many in the community judged them for their diagnosis rather than who they were.
Have you personally experienced stigma related to HIV/AIDS?
Although I haven’t experienced anything personally, I’ve heard people make ignorant comments that perpetuate the stigma. I’ve used those moments as an opportunity to address the issue and educate them.
What would the end of the AIDS epidemic mean to you?
My friends are my chosen family, and I always want the best for them. An end to the epidemic would let them live a life with more freedom.