This week, guest videographer and editor Jesse James Rice and I are accompanying the more than 3000 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. I won’t be riding a bike, but will be riding with the Press Corps, a group of reporters, photojournalists, bloggers, etc., to help document this amazing and emotional journey.
This year’s ALC is the biggest yet, bringing in more than $13 million to the prevention of and education about HIV/AIDS. It’s the 10 year anniversary of the ride and also the 30th anniversary of the first documented case of HIV in the U.S. We’re partnering with our friends over at Towleroad and will be uploading daily Video Stories there as well as right here on IFD. Be sure to “like” IFD on Facebook and follow us on Twitter as I’ll be uploading pics and updates along the way.
I’m Chad Allen. I’m From Los Angeles. I’d been openly gay for a bunch of years. I was out to my family since I was 20 years old give or take. My dad is a super conservative Catholic, Sicilian, tough little guy. Never shows much emotion – really had a tough time with me coming out. He couldn’t look at me for a long time after I came out – just wasn’t what he expected. We never talked about it. I decided to do AIDS LifeCycle – ALC5, the fifth year, because some friends were doing it and I wanted a physical challenge and I’d been affected by HIV/AIDS, not personally, but through other friends so I thought I’d give it a shot. I invited my mom and dad to come with me to the ride-in, Closing Ceremonies when we all ride our bikes in. And, my dad was so affected by what he saw, so moved by this amazing group of committed individuals doing something to change the world – like he literally had tears in his eyes and he said to me after it was over, “Can I help in some way?” I was like, “Yeah, there’s so many things you can do.” And he tried to train and he realized that his knees and back weren’t going to handle the cycling so he signed up as a Roadie and it was probably the first thing that he and I really had ever done together – just he and I since I was a little boy. And it was incredible, I was scared to death because here’s my dad going to be around all these crazy individuals and drag queens and people that don’t edit what they are saying and they all know me really well and I thought, “What are they going to say around my dad?” And this crazy friend of mine saw him and goes, “Is this your dad? He’s so handsome. Oh, look how handsome he is! Ed, why don’t you come with me to my tent?” And I was like, “No, what are you doing?” And my dad just laughed and laughed and I thought, “Wow, he’s a changed person. He’s totally different than the man I gave him credit for and the man he was.” He cried like crazy when we rode in together and it was such a feeling of accomplishment and it changed our relationship together forever, so, an awesome, awesome thing for us.