How old were you at the start of the AIDS epidemic?
I was 12.
How did you first learn about HIV?
I first read about it in Newsweek Magazine. It was the cover story back in 1983, and the cover said “Gay America.”
Where were you when you first learned about the AIDS epidemic?
I grew up in Orange County, CA – so I was pretty sheltered from the initial news in 1982. But began to hear more and more in 1983, which was the same time I realized I was gay.
What does the 25th year of riding to end AIDS mean to you personally?
It really is a major milestone for me. I grew up with the AIDS pandemic being a part of the conversation. For me, once I became sexually active, safer sex, condoms, etc. were the only things I ever knew because that’s what I started with. So I haven’t known a world without it. But being part of the Ride, being able to do something to help others who are surviving and thriving, it is an honor. Riding each year until there is a cure gives me hope.
What effect has the AIDS epidemic had on you or someone you know?
Once I started riding a few years ago, the pandemic became much more personal for me. Becoming friends and family with so many riders, where everyone has a story of how it has affected them, has made it really hit home for me.
Have you personally experienced stigma related to HIV/AIDS?
What would the end of the AIDS epidemic mean to you?
I always think of that beautiful scene at the conclusion of “Longtime Companion.” It was the first major studio film that dealt with AIDS, and I remember seeing it as an 18 year old who had just come out to his parents. They imagine all of their friends who had passed were back with them, on the beach, celebrating life. Bittersweet.