The bike rally

A first-time rider prepares

I started covering HIV discrimination issues in 2006 while living in Vancouver, after I stumbled, quite accidentally, across the case of a gay man who was fighting aggravated sexual assault charges for allegedly failing to disclose his HIV-positive status to sexual partners. He was treated horribly by police and even more appallingly by members of his own community of gay men. The deeper I dug, the worse the story seemed.

The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to rule on the complexities of two HIV-nondisclosure cases later this fall. That ruling may have a profound effect on how the criminal justice system, and wider society, approaches HIV disclosure. And since 2006, community-based HIV support organizations like PWA have taken deep program-funding cuts.

PWA needs your financial and community support now, just as it did 25 years ago.

Every rider I’ve asked over the years about the PWA Friends for Life Bike Rally has told me roughly the same thing: “It’s so much fun, and it will change your life. You should do it, you’ll love it.”

Every year for the past five, in March, around the time I notice the days getting longer, I’ve said to myself, “This will be the year I take the plunge. This will be the year I register for Friends for Life.”

But life is full, time is precious and fleeting, shit happens. It was never so much the week away or fear I wouldn’t be able to complete the route. It was the larger time commitment, the money to be raised, the training rides to take. There always seems to be a summer story that needs careful attention at Xtra. How could I reasonably blow off a significant series of events just to go for a bike ride? The rally simply seemed to call for more time — or rather an advance promise of more time — than I had to give.

This year was no different. Then the rally came up in a meeting with the good people from PWA about their 25th anniversary plans. They suggested, then, that I go. Before I knew it, I had volunteered — or was volunteered — to ride a bicycle almost 600 kilometres in high summer. Honestly, it’s a bit of a relief. I needed an excuse to finally commit. I’ve raised some money, started my training regimen and am really looking forward to the big ride and the ways in which it will change my life.

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Culture, News, Media, Toronto, HIV/AIDS

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