This gay nurse is going to be riding 545 miles, alongside 3000 others, from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
A gay nurse has come up with a genius way to help raise money for HIV research: parodying The Sound of Music.
Otis Morgan, a 42-year-old nurse living in San Francisco, brought together some close friends and health advocates for a hilarious video.
He hopes the video will help raise money for AIDS/LifeCycle. The ride benefits the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Over the past eight years, he has raised a total of over $150,000 for the cause.
Alongside 3,000 others, he will cycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles in seven days. The journey is 545 miles by bicycle.
HIV research fund-raiser: ‘I assumed I wouldn’t live past my 30th birthday.’
Morgan was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. Because of his sexuality, he assumed anyone who got AIDS died.
‘As a child I assumed I wouldn’t live past my 30th birthday…I knew that I would die of AIDS,’ he told Gay Star News.
‘Though sexually active, I didn’t get my first HIV test until I was 24. My fear of being positive outweighed my curiosity that I might be negative, which sent me into spiraling shame.
‘That was around the first time I did the ride, then named California AIDS Ride, in 2000. Facing that fear and testing negative reminded me how lucky I was (because it was luck). It inspired me to help the cause on a bigger level.’
After graduating from a liberal arts school, Guilford College, with a degree in Theatre Studies, Morgan hoped to be a professional stage actor. After making ends meet while working in an investment bank, he moved to LA to work for talent agencies.
While he loved talking to celebrities, working for Creative Artists Agency which represents names like Tom Cruise and Meryl Street, he hated his job. He went to nursing school, and has loved ‘making a real difference in people’s lives’ for the past eight years.
But despite all the job changes, and the fact he lived in liberal LA, he didn’t accept his sexuality until five years ago.
‘I was terrified to accept myself for being gay’
‘I wasn’t very well educated on how HIV was transmitted,’ he said, saying the fear continued well into his 30s.
‘It was really scary growing up in a world that made me feel inferior for being gay… [It] made me think that if I got AIDS, I deserved it,’ Morgan added.
‘That fear was represented as shame. I was terrified to accept myself for being gay, acting out sexually making the shame effect spiral and continue.
‘I come across as metrosexual and have always downplayed the possibility that I might be gay. Even when I worked at CAA, where two of their partners are gay, I didn’t feel safe coming out.
‘It has only been in the last five years that I have been able to accept and love myself for being gay.’
Four years ago, Morgan wondered if there was a creative way to help fund-raise for the bicycle ride.
So he decided to parody Beauty School Dropout from Grease. Every year since, he has done a different movie musical parody.
The second year was Xanadu and the third was Mary Poppins.
‘Do Re Mi from Sound of Music was always a dream video because it is so well known and iconic,’ Morgan said. Thankfully, a fellow singer from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus volunteered his time to sew curtain costumes.
The video also stars the CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation Joe Hollendoner and Director of AIDS/LifeCycle Tracy Evans. Bebe Sweetbriar, a well known drag queen in San Francisco, also appears.
‘The ride has absolutely educated and helped relieve the fear [of catching HIV]’ Morgan added, adding he has been PrEP for the past three years.
‘The goal is to end transmission of the disease with zero new HIV infections’
‘People who take their medications aren’t dying anymore like they used to be. The goal… is to END the transmission of the disease with zero new HIV infections. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation are getting there by helping all HIV positive people become undetectable. They also help all sexually active HIV negative people get on PrEP. Their cases of new HIV infections are dramatically decreasing every year. A lot of that is due to the ride.’
Describing the upcoming AIDS/LifeCycle ride on 3-9 June, he said people from ‘all walks of life’ come and do the week-long journey.
Morgan said: ‘Yes, there are A LOT of gay men. But there are all ages, from 18 to one man in his 90s! All races, genders, and even body types ride in this ride. There is a significant amount of straight women and even a few token straight men (feels good to call straight men token for once!).’
Read more at: Gay Star News.