This week, guest videographer and editor Matthew Ladensack and I are accompanying the more than 2700 riders and volunteers of the AIDS LifeCycle and collecting their stories. If you’re not familiar with ALC, it’s the world’s largest annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser where riders bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the course of 7 days. We won’t be riding bikes, but will be riding with the Press Corps, a group of reporters, photojournalists, bloggers, etc., to help document the ride.
Also, AIDS/LifeCycle is offering I’m From Driftwood readers a discount if you register for next year’s ride. The regular $85 registration is only $45 if you go to the AIDS/LifeCycle site and enter “IFD” in the code box of the registration page.
Randy Phillips rocketed to YouTube fame when he came out to his dad on YouTube the day Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed. His coming out video has millions of views and he may have just as many loyal followers. Having a strong moral sense of responsibility, he wanted to do something good with his newfound fame:
I kind of wanted to parlay what little bit of attention I got from YouTube into something I think is a taboo for our generation. Not very many people in their early 20s like to think about AIDS. We kind of think we have it under control, but we don’t. It’s still very big and it shouldn’t be a taboo. It should be something we talk about and discuss and fundraise for and fight and be active in our communities. So I wanted to change this into something good.
Randy goes on to talk about his mother’s reaction to his coming out, her perception of gay people, and how he’s grown and changed after just one day on the AIDS/LifeCycle ride. Continue Reading to watch Randy’s story.
I’m Randy Phillips and I’m from Eclectic, Alabama. AIDS doesn’t have a face, it doesn’t have a face, it doesn’t have a demographic, it can happen to anybody. It’s like coming out of a second closet, it’s one thing when you hear that somebody is gay and that can kinda set you back a minute but then you hear that somebody is HIV positive and you kinda say did I hear that right?
You might remember me as the guy who came out to his dad on the day of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and then put it on YouTube for the entire world to kinda see a success story. As well as my dad took it, my mom didn’t take it quite so easy. And you know she’s from the 80s generation where the only thing you can think about being gay is AIDS and dying very young and not having a good life. She couldn’t think of any, couldn’t relate to another gay person who had a normal life, you know grew up healthy and had a successful life and a career, and lived a long life and maybe got married and found somebody and possibly had some kids. She didn’t think that’s what my life could be like, she thought it would be absolutely a horror story and I’d die ten years later, alone and a drug addict and from HIV.
I’ve never been really able to relate to the HIV/AIDS crisis locally. I met a guy on my team last night at dinner and we talked for twenty minutes and he told me he was HIV positive. He’s young, he’s healthy, he’s doing this bike ride, he looks just like me. Then he told me he was 24 and he kinda just blew me out of the water. I couldn’t imagine that somebody that looks so healthy and full of life and is doing so much could be HIV positive. Nothing has really connected with me so much until I got here and felt that with my own teammate. I kinda wanted to parlay what little bit of attention I got from YouTube into something that I think is a taboo for our generation. Not very many people in their early 20s like to think about AIDS. It’s such our parents’s generation and we kinda think we have it under control, but we don’t. It’s still very big and it shouldn’t be a taboo it should be something that we talk about and we discuss and fundraise for and fight and be active in our communities. So I wanted to change this into something good.