Sorry that I haven't done another blog entry in a few days. I've been going 90mph for the last few days. On Thursday, I volunteered at the Lutheran Social Service's Emergency Food Bank with one of our project's volunteers Jeff. (The pic today is from Dab the AIDS Bear helping us also.) We had a great time talking and helping people as they came in for supplies. We only had a few people so it didn't take much time and we actually ended up leaving a half hour early.
I'm also helping Heather by taking one of her new interns under my wing and helping him with his doctorate. Ira seems like a great guy that would be a real asset to a social service organization. He has real depth and heart. I took Ira's pic with Dab the AIDS Bear along with a couple of other LSS employees and added them to the graphic that shows on the front page of this website.
Then for Thursday evening, I was invited to speak at the Rose Women's HIV support group that meets at BCCC. I've worked with several of their members in other organizations and one of their members, Torrencia, is on our board of directors. Their group also worked very hard this past holiday season and donated over 300 hundred teddy bears to our Teddy Bear Touchdown.
So when I was invited to speak to their entire support group about HIV history and activism, I jumped at the chance. I explained to them what the early days of the epidemic was to live through... the fear... the loss of friends at a young age... the lack of funding and medications... the fact that our President didn't even say the word "AIDS" until 1985 when Rock Hudson died. (At that point over 28,000 gay men had died from HIV and AIDS) That we aren't guaranteed Ryan White Funding and that one day they might have to get active to keep those rights. We talked about how they could work with our project to do more for the community. They would be great with fund raising, HIV testing, awareness and events. These women have such huge hearts and a desire to do more. I'm very exited about working with them and helping them to become the people they want to be.
A fact that most people don't know about the early days of HIV and AIDS... Who originally were the care givers to gay men with HIV and AIDS? Lesbians and drag queens. Some of us were lucky and also had loving families that we could count on being there for us... BUT that was very few from my personal experience. I've always been lucky that my family loves me for who I am. Even my partner was not that lucky.
The Rose group and my long term survivor group will be attending an HIV convention in March. Actually, we're hoping to attend the conference. We're checking into that and funding to be able to attend right now. Heather is helping me with that so I need to follow up with her next week and make sure. It would also be a great way to let more HIV+ people know about Dab the AIDS Bear Project and Divided We Fail.
With Divide We Fail, we are still chasing after the candidates all over the state of Florida before our primary on Tuesday. I have another few events in Jacksonville on Monday. This weekend in Orlando we had a state rally where they showed my story about HIV and AIDS and the commercial. I am so humbled that they chose to share my story and are helping in my quest to keep people talking about HIV and AIDS. It's my hope that this will raise awareness and new infections while reminding people that there is no cure and we need funding so that American men, women and children will not die just because they can't afford the very costly medication and services.
I hope that all of you had a great weekend. No football this weekend but then I really didn't have time to watch it anyway. I'm still working out almost every day to get my body back into shape and put some muscle mass back on the middle age bod! You have to fight gravity at my age also unlike when you are in your 20s and 30s.
Wishing all of you health, hope and happiness... but most of all hope. Without hope; health and happiness aren't attainable and sustainable.
Big bear hug,