PHOTOS: Queerty Reports From The Road With AIDS/LifeCycle, Day One




My name is Clark Harding and I’ll be blogging live from the road (and stalking Jake Deckard, obviously).

11:05 a.m., Sunday June 2, 2013. Day One

I don’t know how he found me amidst all the bikers in the stadium. AIDS/LifeCycle was about to start, and Lorri Jean, CEO of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, was giving us her famous send-off. But Jake Deckard, my porn star fantasy, locked his eyes on me. His muscles bulged out of his spandex, his neck tattoo informing me he’s a “daddy,” in case I hadn’t noticed. As he walked toward me, cyclists billowed in his wake. Jake grabbed me in his arms and pulled me close. I puckered my lips, surrendering to his dominance…and that’s when my alarm went off and I woke up. My ALC honeymoon is over, and now it is time to werq.

“The road is now officially open!” blared Lorri over the loud speaker at 6:30 a.m. today at Cow Palace, home of the ALC opening ceremonies. In that instant, approximately 2,203 bikers (sadly none of them Jake) trampled me to get to their bikes and were cheered by onlookers as they zoomed south on Day One of the seven-day ride. The path was a little clustered at first, but soon the “law of dispersal” evened riders to single file. Classically the 550 “roadies,” were out in full form (and costume) with snacks, water, bubbles, wigs…the usual tools used to support the riders as the road calmed to a quieter pace.

“On average, people in our group have done this for about three years,” Derek McCombs tells me, at Rest Stop 2. He’s the founder of The Mustache Riders, a fabulous training group out of San Francisco that sports, well, mustaches (including two women who wear falsies).

“About fifty percent of the riders are returning from previous years,” says Jim Key, the LAGLC’s Chief Public Affairs Officer. “But I have to say, it’s an older crowd, we don’t see too many riders in their early twenties and below,” Derek observes. But according to the Center the most “at risk” for contracting HIV are young, gay men of color between the ages of 18 to 24.

“The younger generation doesn’t have that same fear of HIV that we do because people aren’t dying. I honestly think they fear getting herpes more,” says another Mustache Rider. “It’s like kids are infecting each other because they don’t even know they have it.”

A quandary to ponder on the road: if youth are the most vulnerable, how do we engage them to protect themselves?

Photos: Chris Stewart/Georg Lester

Scroll through to see more photos.

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  • Stupid

    When I did the ride, there were women too!

  • miniskull

    I was a bit excited hoping to find some pictures of hot, athletic non-white guys on this post. But after half way through the slideshow, I remembered: “this is Queerty…” and I was right. *Sigh*

  • yaoming

    There’s a black guy in picture #2 and… um, I guess the rest are all white. Go figure.

  • mlbumiller


    19 NO PIC

  • Sammy Schlipshit

    It was an older crowd?????? Really? Golly, some of them must have been at least in their mid thirties. Just a bunch of geezers, alright.
    Gimme a break.

  • miniskull

    @yaoming: He’s standing next to 5 white guys. And he’s not even half-naked. 24 pictures and I spotted 2 black guys and 1 Asian who all posed in group. But honestly, the event seems to be quite dominantly white. It kinda reminded me about gay clubs I went to: I was the only Asian there, there are some black guys but majority are white. Very few people took interested in talking to me or to other black guys.

  • Sammy Schlipshit

    @miniskull: Just to keep it all in perspective for your young’uns, our world was just as segregated back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. It’s too bad to see that some things haven’t changed a bit.
    So, miniskull, your words were just as true back in the day as they, unfortunately, are now.

  • NicHunter

    I don’t think that it’s necessarily a predominately white event. I have many friends that fundraised and rode this year, and a good portion of them are non-white individuals. I think the photo collage has more to do with the personal preference of the photographer and his biased opinion of “what is sexy.” Congrats on the shirtless white men in their 30’s, but unfortunately that’s not “hot” to everyone. Though in reality, I wasn’t aware that the ALC was specifically about looks or sex appeal…

  • whiskeyclone

    Some of these pictures could have come out of a recap of the Black Party or some jock strap night at the Eagle. I thought this was about HIV/AIDS, not just another place for vain self promoting guys to strut their stuff. I’m all for showing that people living with HIV can be and are healthy and fit and sexy, but this is gratuitous and disgusting. Do we really need to see shirtless ripped hotties when we’re documenting something that is supposed to help fight HIV/AIDS? Isn’t every other story littered with enough sex already? Is this really how narcissistic our “community” is? The truth is living with HIV/AIDS is a struggle and most dudes I know living with the disease that are healthy and fit still don’t have these ridiculously ripped bodies. The side effects of meds… the lipodystrophy… nope, we can’t show anyone that isn’t just an average looking joe

  • ncman

    Seriously, Clark defines “older” as men over 25!!!!! How warped is that?

  • miagoodguy

    A bunch of gay faces in many of those pictures.

  • startenout

    I love that, every time, people are passive aggressively “surprised” that the photo spreads here lack diversity whether it be racial or gender diversity. Guess what, y’all: it isn’t just Queerty. There’s a white, male, youth oriented leaning in most every gay publication I have seen other than those directed specifically at the minorities within our minority. And when it’s confronted, they add one African-American or Asian model. In this spread, I guess we have to count the women in the background and perhaps the guy wearing the Colombia spandex is Latino. Equality.

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