Category Archives: giving

$50 for 50 by 50 #2: AIDS Project Los Angeles

I’m turning 50 this year and instead of whining about it, I’m trying to do something positive by donating $50 to 50 different charities before I’m 50 years old.

Okay, in an attempt to be gracious about a dead woman, Hilary said some stupid, uninformed stuff about the history of AIDS in this country.  She apologized and then she really apologized and I’m good with that, especially considering how much she and her husband have done or tried to do over the years related to the disease (much of which is detailed in the really apologized link above).

In a way I’m glad all this happened.  I mean, I hate it when people I like and support and admire say stupid, uninformed things but that just proves they are human – I’m thinking of glass houses and great, big stones.  But at least it kicked AIDS into the national conversation again, something that it sorely needed.

I came to Los Angeles in 1985, when AIDS was already a crisis and I worked in the gay bars as a bouncer, a bartender, and a DJ.  I saw the crisis up close during its worst days.  I lost several people that I could call good friends, probably a dozen more that I was friendly with, and at least a hundred others that I knew.  For awhile there were funerals every week – not just one but many.

Since then things have changed, dramatically.  The advancements in drug therapy have turned a certain death sentence into a chronic, but manageable disease.  The “PReP” treatment regimen has become as close as we have been to an inoculation.   Still, there are over 50,000 new infections every year and 1 million people in this country living with HIV.

I am one of them.  I don’t talk about it a lot, mainly because it’s a non-issue in my life.  I take pills, I see the doctor every 4 months for blood tests, and the virus is completely undetectable in my body.  It is much more likely that I will die from a recurrence of esophageal cancer than I will of HIV.

But I am both informed and lucky, in that I have really good health insurance and great access to quality medical care.  A lot of people are not informed and/or lucky and for them, organizations like AIDS Project Los Angeles are an imperative.

In 1982, as a panicked community faced a deadly new disease, a group of four friends attended an emergency meeting, determined to help. They raised $7,000 at a Christmas benefit – the seed money to launch AIDS Project Los Angeles, which began with five clients. Today, they serve more than 11,000 with first-rate HIV/AIDS care and prevention programs and fight for smart, effective HIV-related public policy.

Learn more about APLA on their website or check this article on About.com for other notable AIDS organizations in the United States.

My second $50 for 50 by 50 has gone to APLA.

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$50 for 50 by 50 #1: The Trevor Project

I’m going to be 50 years old in a little under 6 months.  The thought of that both hurts my head and makes me itch in unspecified ways.

But it also makes me feel incredibly lucky.  Considering all the crap that has gone wrong with me over the years, not the least of which was a fun little joy ride with cancer, the fact that I have made it to 49 is quite the accomplishment if I do say so myself.  Add in the facts that I have a job (that drives me crazy, but it’s a job), I am very well paid, I get to do stuff outside the job that makes me happy (I’m writing a third TV movie!), and I have friends that I adore, and it all adds up to a pretty good total for almost 50.

I wanted to do something special to mark the occasion and considered all sorts of 50-related things: a bucket list of 50 items, trying to take a bunch of weekend jaunts so I could say I had visited all 50 states (I have 13 left), and the like.  But the realities of my schedule and my attention span led me to keep nuking the various options as being too time consuming and/or too pain-in-the-ass-ing.

So instead, I have decided to do something proactive and yet not have to actually get out of my comfy chair to do so – I’m going to give $50 to 50 different charities before I turn 50 years old.   As of today there are 177 days until my birthday so that means 2-3 donations every week.

I’m going to blog and Facebook (yes, it’s a verb) about this, not to get attention for myself but to hopefully draw attention to the worthwhile organizations that I am going to be supporting.   I know that $50 to any single organization isn’t going to be life changing for any of them, but maybe you’ll consider donating also to the ones you agree are worth knowing about.  Every little bit counts.

I also want to hear from you.  If you have suggestions of worthwhile organization to support, send me an email.  There are thousands out there so coming up with 50 shouldn’t be hard!

My inaugural $50 for 50 by 50 is going to an organization that I think does some incredibly important work: The Trevor Project, which is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24.  Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are 4 times more likely and questioning youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.  It gets even worse for transgender youth, a full quarter of which have attempted suicide.

The Trevor Project runs 24 hour crisis intervention services plus online chat and text intervention support; produces educational material and support training; and runs community services around the country to support LGBTQ youth.

This is important to me because I remember what it was like to be questioning my sexuality when I was a kid.  Coming from a very religious household, the thought of it terrified me and I remember praying, asking to not be gay.  I was bullied, I was rejected, and I considered suicide – I even made a half-hearted attempt at it when I was 16.  I wish an organization like The Trevor Project had been around when I was a kid.

To learn more or to donate, please visit thetrevorproject.org.

$50 for 50 by 50 #1: The Trevor Project.

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