Here is a repost from Brendan Rome, a roadie on the AIDS/LifeCycle. Brendan has participated in 9 rides. He spoke at a Roadie Appreciation event I’ve reproduced selected portions of his speech, below. HIV and AIDS are not gay things. They affect everyone of every age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and infection status. We fight for our lives, the lives of our loved ones, and the lives yet to be.
Brendan brings these facts out in a moving testimonial to life and the camaraderie which is at the heart of the AIDS/LifeCycle. Thank you Brendan for reminding us how important our work is.
30 years ago — In fact, 30 years ago this week, I was diagnosed HIV positive with six months to live. I am one of 34 million people living with HIV. My journey has become way too familiar. 34 million people — that’s about the entire population of the state of California. Now, don’t be afraid, I’m NOT gonna spend the next seven HOURS of YOUR life talking about the past thirty YEARS of MINE.
I could talk about what it was like becoming HIV positive at 18 years old. What it was like to go to 9 funerals in one year. What it was like at 21 spending more time with my friends in hospices than dancing with them in bars.
I could talk about How I lived through proposition 64 that would quarantine those diagnosed with HIV to remote islands and concentration camps. BUT THAT is the past. All the fundraising in the world can’t change the past.
With your permission, what I wanna talk about is the future.
I am not the face of AIDS. Not alone. No The face of AIDS isn’t someone who was diagnosed 30 years ago. The face of AIDS isn’t just our loved ones that have succumbed to this virus.
The face of AIDS is ALSO those who are negative.
The face of AIDS is everyone.
My husband Bud is HIV negative. He has been a cyclist twice and a roadie for seven consecutive years. Both my parents have become roadies. My dad has been a roadie five times. My mom Darlene joined as a roadie in 2013. Both negative.
Most kids have grown older worried about ailing parents. My parents grew older worried about losing their only son. For many years, every cold, every flu was a potential threat of losing their only son.
My husband, 15 years by my side and my parents, at 70 years old, WORKING for this ride are just two of the many facets that prove AIDS affects everyone.
I am happy to report that I am healthy
And since I’m going to live long enough to decide which rest home they are going to live in I’m waiting to see if Mom sign up her second ride. …
My sister Michelle is returning this year as a second year roadie. I’m happy to report, my brother-in-law Darrell is a first time roadie this year. I assumed Michelle’s experience last year, the stories she brought home, inspired her husband.
Darrell and I spoke recently and He told me that he joined this ride because I inspired him. He’s participating because of me.
The irony is, I am participating for him.
Together, my parents, my sister, Darrell, me, my husband and all of you — We fight this disease to lift the weary and protect the healthy. We are in this together.
We fight this disease for the future.
We fight this disease so people can have a future.
We fight so people can die with dignity.
We fight so people can LIVE with dignity.
I fight HIV for my nieces and my nephews.
I fight HIV for YOUR nieces and your nephews.
And I fight this disease for those of you who were CRAZY enough to have your own kids.
God love ya! The future of AIDS is unclear. Infections are back on the rise yet strangely not in the news. Thanks to this event and YOU, this fight is still on.
You’ll notice on the ALC we have gay people, straight people, bisexuals, transgender. We have democrats, republicans, independents, codependents. Big kids, little kids, young kids, old kids. Fat kids, skinny kids, fat kids that started cycling that are now skinny kids.
These people that stand next to you today are an inspiration for solving the worlds problems. These People who gathered together for this event, though each so very different, collectively [they] worked together to focus on how we are the same.
You roadies have renewed my faith in humanity and alleviated my fear of camping with strangers. I am grateful for every moment. I’ve had an amazing life with some WONDERFUL memories.
The medication I take is secondary to the love of my friends, the love of my family and the love of my husband Bud, that has kept me alive, happy, healthy, [and] undetectable. I thank you roadies for fighting this disease.
Many of you are giving up a week’s vacation from work and working harder than you do at your everyday jobs. Not only are you donating your time and labor, both of which this event could not exist without, but the AIDS Lifecycle Roadies raise more money than any other organization’s volunteer labor. Without even being asked. We raise money because it’s the right thing to do. We raise money because It’s the RESPONSIBLE thing to do.
As a roadie, the AIDS Lifecycle does not require you to raise money. But there’s this amazing feeling you get when you get a donation that I don’t want you to miss out on. Your friends, your family, your vendors, your clients, your co-workers. Don’t ANSWER the question for them by not ASKING them the question.
Will you sponsor me?
You will be amazed at how many people open their hearts and they wallets. The stories you hear about WHY they are donating. And that amazing feeling you get when you realize humanitarians are alive and well.
It is funding that helps keep infection rates down and it’s this Money that keeps the Jeffery Goodman Clinic open and operational for services that I needed to help me be here tonight.
Thank you for the 10,000 tomorrows you have already provided me.
30 years ago I was diagnosed HIV positive with six months to live.
It is because of YOU and what you are doing that I will See you all again tomorrow!