As a black gay man and the son of a Baptist minister, I have not always been connected to my own sexual orientation, let alone the LGBT community. While I have always had a strong sense for social justice, I did not live in the gay community during the times when funerals for AIDS victims were nearly a daily occurrence, and, therefore, did not have the deep emotional connection to our community’s struggle with HIV and AIDS.
For the last 15 months, I have had the privilege of serving as the executive director here at San Diego Pride. In that time, I have been exposed to the wide and beautiful range of diversity our community has to offer. In meeting people from all walks of life, gender identities, and sexual orientations, I have also come to meet people living with HIV and AIDS and realized that individuals afflicted with the virus were already in my life.
One such person, is a friend and a bright young man of color in his twenties. I had an epiphany when he told me that he was HIV-positive. If he hadn’t shared his personal story with me, after over a year of knowing him, I never would have understood what his daily struggles were. In his face, I could see the face of any young person, or even perhaps myself. In that moment I was changed.
In the minds of many, and in the past myself, AIDS and HIV has become treatable and not as scary as those who are living with the virus are often healthy and without symptoms. The truth, however, is for as far as we have come and for as treatable as the disease is -- we still do not have a cure. There are still far too many people living right here in San Diego fighting HIV/AIDS; many without the ability to afford proper care and medication, which is why our action is needed.
This is why I have personally chosen to participate in this year’s AIDS Walk & Run. Whether we are aware or not, we all know someone living with HIV/AIDS and have a personal reason to walk and a story to share. I hope you will consider joining our team and/or contributing what you can. This year I will walk with Pride, and I would be honored to have you walk with me.
San Diego LGBT Pride