Every year I write a new blog entry hoping to encourage others to join the cause. I cycle, and specifically ride in the AIDS/LifeCycle, because of the good I know is possible. Last year, riders, roadies, and donors together raised over $15,000,000 to support HIV and AIDS charities which are magnets to young people throughout the state and the country as a whole. The services provided are invaluable to keeping people alive and helping end transmission. So I ride to support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.
I also ride because when I am out there on my bike, I am the face of the LGBT community to rural Californians, to passing traffic on the 101, and to the world via news coverage of the event. 3000+ people doing anything at the same time makes an impact, but when we’re getting together looking all festive and raising money for a great cause, its hard for the most homophobic curmudgeon to ignore us.
Believe it or not, some people probably don’t know a single gay person. So this is as true today as when Harvey Milk said it:
Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and all. And once you do, you will feel so much better.
We live in a changed world, it is true. But it is not so changed that United States politicians cannot seek to kill us where we live, strip us of our rights, and to call for a war against us. (These news stories are only hours old.) So I ride to be out and proud.
I ride because cycling is the funnest, most adventurous form of fitness you can do. You have this awesome piece of technology between your legs. You get to ride 30, 50, or 100 miles in places city folk never even get to by car. At an average of 15 miles per hour, you get to really see what you’re riding by. You get to improve your cardiovascular health without ruining your legs. So I ride for fitness and adventure.
Finally I ride for my sanity. I am an attorney fighting for the civil rights of California employees. It is not an easy job. I love arguing about fact and law, but so many attorneys cannot leave it there. If your coworkers said half the things that opposing counsel say to me regularly, you’d probably quit and find a new job. I pride myself on scrupulous honesty and openness. So having my motives questioned is particularly irksome for me. But when I ride, all that goes away; I become one with my bike. And I often piece together legal arguments that there is no way I’d have come up with if I had remained at my desk! So I ride to support my career and for my sanity.
The only question which remains is: Why do you ride?
And if you don’t ride: What will it take for me to get you out on your bike?