06/06/2012 11:47 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Gay Airman Randy Phillips Urges His Generation to Talk About AIDS (VIDEO)

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.

Randy Phillips rocketed to YouTube fame when he came out to his dad on YouTube the day "don't ask, don't tell" was repealed. His coming-out video has millions of views, and he may have just as many loyal followers. Having a strong moral sense of responsibility, he wanted to do something good with his newfound fame:

I kind of wanted to parlay what little bit of attention I got from YouTube into something I think is a taboo for our generation. Not very many people in their early 20s like to think about AIDS.

The 22-year-old airman had never known anyone who was HIV-positive but joined the AIDS/LifeCycle ride to challenge a perception that his mother had:

She couldn't think of any, couldn't relate to another gay person who had had a normal life, who grew up healthy and had a successful life and a career and lived a long life and maybe got married and found somebody and possibly had some kids. She didn't think that's what my life would be like. She thought it would be absolutely a horror story and that I'd die 10 years later alone, a drug addict, from HIV.

On the first day of the ride, Randy met his first HIV-positive friend, a young man on his team, which pushed Randy to continue doing even more good:

We kind of think we have it under control, but we don't. It's still very big, and it shouldn't be a taboo. It should be something we talk about and discuss and fundraise for and fight and be active in our communities. So I wanted to change this into something good.


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