Dear beloved family,
After spending the better part of my adult life as an advocate, activist, and minister to those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, today, World AIDS Day remains such an important part of who and what I am. I woke up with a start at 6AM this morning to realize that for the first time in more than 6 years, I am not scheduled to speak, preach, or teach today. There is some healing peace in that and also some grief. AIDS transformed me from a small town fundamentalist 13 year old boy into a prematurely developed activist, shouting down the barriers of power which keep people needlessly oppressed, isolated, and in fear that if anyone discovers their HIV+ status they would lose all.
I was so blessed to have a mother who could accept that I needed a path that was different than the one proscribed by societal norms and when I finally left home just shy of my 16th birthday, I knew that if I wanted to earn my place in this world, I would have to work very, very hard and learn to defend myself against those who told me that I was an abomination and wanted violence to take my life.
I was blessed my amazing lesbian women, who had courageously taken on the mantle of leadership while their friends and loved ones died all around. I learned to trust men slowly and was blessed to share in the death and dying journeys of my own uncle, Dr. Rob Eichberg, countless clients at the Boulder County AIDS Project and so many others.
Some might worry that such intense work for an adolescent was difficult and left a mark on an impressionable young mind. I see it slightly differently. AIDS became a refiner’s fire for me. Each day I grew stronger and more capable and so, so, so much more open-hearted to the struggles of other marginalized individuals and families.
This World AIDS Day, I won’t be speaking or traveling but rather spending it in the company of a few deeply loving and supportive friends, celebrating recovery from a myriad of life challenges, affirming the sanctity of life as we have come to understand it, and most of spreading the love we have so richly been given to others in return. These moments of growth are indispensible.
My mother wrote a piece on her blog and I am including it here, too. She is one of the most amazing human beings, I have EVER, had the pleasure to spiritually walk with.
And I would like to invite you; in whatever ways you connect to the Divine/God/your High Power to join me and millions of others around the world as we pray for compassionate caregivers, cheaper medications, and soon, oh please God, soon, soon, soon, a cure that will bring an end to AIDS.
I love you all and feel so grateful and blessed to have you all in my life.