The I'm From Driftwood crew is in California for the 11th annual AIDS/LifeCycle, a bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles raising money for HIV/AIDS. IFD founder Nathan Manske and guest videographer and editor Matthew Ladensack will be sharing daily video stories from some of the 2,700 participants who are embarking on the seven-day, 545-mile trek. You can follow IFD's daily adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
Dwayne Carl has a message for the world, and for churches in particular: "I'm HIV-positive. Get over it!"
After being at his church for years, Dwayne was applying for the job of choir director. After the church leaders found out that he was gay, he was told he would not be able to apply for the job; Dwayne accepted this and moved on:
He looked at me and said, "Well, you're wonderful, and we love you, but because of you being an openly gay man, you cannot be Minister of Music for my church." I decided I didn't want to be a part of that.
Years later, Dwayne was submitting an ad to his new church's newsletter to promote his book. The ad featured the tattoo he has on his arm, which depicts a cross with "HIV BOI" and the words "Only God Can Judge Me." It seemed that history was about to repeat itself, but Dwayne pushed back:
They started to tailor the conversation more towards about homsexuality than AIDS, and I said, "Sir, with all due respect, if Jesus was here right now walking this Earth, would he ostracize gays, lesbians, people with HIV and AIDS? Would he discriminate or condemn to this place you call Hell?" And you could tell no one on the conference call -- it was silent.
Dwayne has taken it upon himself to reduce stigma toward people living with HIV and AIDS, especially within the church community. He has seen first-hand the impact stigma has on black church communities:
Gay men who are in the church who want a position of leadership, in order to get that they will marry a woman and unfortunately then have relations with men outside of that relationship, and sometimes they slip up and have unprotected sex, causing them to have HIV, they're not gonna go back to their wife and use a condom. OK, now she's HIV... believe me, I go in some of these churches and speak, and I have so many of these stories from black women.
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