Frank Gulli walks because he promised he would.
I’ve been participating in AIDS WALK LA for several years now, and every year there are several different reasons why I do it. When I first got diagnosed in 1985, I didn’t think things were going to be same. I’ve outlived it, many others just like me have been through the constant struggle of battling the AIDS epidemic, but I am happy to say that many of us have outlived an epidemic; I am a survivor who is still fighting. And I am doing so by commemorating those who we’ve lost; my friends, family, and loved ones. I do AIDS Walk LA as a way to celebrate their lives. I am living in the moment where things are much different than years ago, we live in an era where there are treatments to control the virus, the virus no longer controls us. That is why I walk today, to celebrate the achievements and the barriers we as a community have overcome.
What does AWLA means to you?
I believe that we are now in a place where HIV, is no longer chaos and an uncontrolled crisis, however the HIV/AIDS epidemics is still a topic that needs our attention and requires everyone’s attention. There are several organizations that do not have the funds for programs that benefit clients like me. It is very important and necessary to raise money for those organizations that do not have the necessary financial support. Therefore for me it is essential to come together as one community and be able to show support, show that we are there for one another, show that one day of the year we can come together and walk, walk in solidarity, walk to show pride of the wonderful community we are, come together to celebrate our brotherhood and sisterhood. United for one cause!
Why do you keep participating year after year?
Although there are several reason why I do it, there is always one specific reason why I keep coming back, and that is because I am a man of my word and I am honoring a promise that someone else couldn’t fulfill. I had a lover whose brother passed away from AIDS and when he passed, my lover promised his brother that he will march, that he would walk and celebrate his memory. But my lover was not able to fulfill that duty due to his physical limitations, therefore my lover could not participate in AIDS Walk, so I decided to take it upon myself and honor that promise. So for the many years that I’ve done it, I show up, I am physically there, and I do it, for me, for him, and for you.
Any final thoughts?
Lastly I want you to know that this year I am adding another reason to my list of why I do AIDS Walk, this year I am celebrating the fact that many of us who are aging have survived, we are survivors, we are fighters, we are human being who are in the position to celebrate our longevity, our many years of struggle, in particular this year I am walking with HIVE, a program that has provided me with a new view of life. I will be walking alongside those men who have gone through similar difficulties but that have overcome the adversity. We are building a new community and I want to thank you HIVE for the constant support in helping me and others build a space where we belong, looking forward to more.