This autumn, I will participate in Housing Work’s annual BREAKING AIDS™ ride. I will ride my bicycle 285 miles from Boston to New York to raise money for HIV/AIDS advocacy. All of the money raised for this ride will go to Housing Works, who provides housing, medical, prevention, and support services for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. There are so many things I want to tell you about it and I am afraid this will be messy but I will try.
The first is that AIDS is the worst. I realized this in 1992 when my beloved English teacher retired mid-year and died three months later. I remembered this every time I read a book or saw a painting or heard a song and found out the creator was already gone. I think this was best articulated by John Giorno when he wrote, “the world is getting empty of everyone I know one by one/in every direction they are leaving this world/for some people everyone they know has died.”
Which brings me to the second thing, which is Housing Works. Founded in 1990, one of the great aspects of their work is their focus on community empowerment. This is a quality that cannot be quantified but remains key in gauging their successes. I really encourage you to check out their website to see all the incredible, radical work they’ve done. I was especially heartened by their jump to action in 2010 following the earthquake in Haiti. On a different scale, when I worked on the Nikhil Chopra exhibition in 2009 they happily loaned us a bunch of furniture for his performance. I believe they appreciate that these things are connected in the same way that I do, and that life is much easier to deal with when we work together.
The third thing is the most complicated thing but probably the most important. My sister Jordana participated in last year’s ride (then titled “Breaking the Cycle”). Five weeks later she was dead, suddenly and horribly. I believe participating in the ride was among her proudest moments; she was energized and inspired enough to sign up for this year’s ride immediately on completion of the course. It breaks my heart that she can’t participate this year, and I feel like a poor replacement but I will try. If you look at Jordana’s page from last year’s ride (https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/jordanaswan/brakingthecycle) you will see that she positions the ride as a part of her recovery from anxiety and a broken wrist. Seriously go look, her pitch is perfect and she makes a better case for everything I tried to say. But the ride was so good for her, and I am in my own recovery period and am needful for this opportunity.
Jordana also offered some amazing prizes for supporting her. I am doing the same:
$20 + : everyone who donates $20 or more will receive a postcard from me during the ride.
$50 + : everyone who donates $50 or more will also receive postcards documenting my training rides in Los Angeles. I will take photos along the way and produce postcards from these photos. You will receive a total of 4 postcards between now and September.
$100 + : everyone who donates $100 or more will also receive a handmade book documenting the BRAKING AIDS™ ride. I will take photos along the way and keep a journal. Probably like 24-48 black + white pages, depending on how good the photos turn out.
$250 + : everyone who donates $250 or more will also receive a book of photos/text documenting the ride Jordana and I took in 2005. We both took a lot of photos and I kept really good notes and have been working on this for years. It will be in an edition of probably 25, I just wanted to give it to my parents and grandma and a few friends.
Thank you for your patience with this text. I hope that you will consider sponsoring me and by doing so will help Housing Works with their vital efforts. Your donation is fully tax-deductible.