LSR Journal: New friends and a new commitment

Ana-Maria Baker started out last year as a LSRFA cyclist because she saw it as another way to get fit. Then she made friends with riders who were HIV-positive, and her view of the ride changed

Ana-Maria Baker

M.M. ADJARIAN  |  Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

The Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS may have been born in the Dallas-Fort Worth LGBT community. But as second-year cyclist Ana-Maria Baker well knows, the HIV/AIDS epidemic affects everyone — and you don’t have to be gay to care.

Baker, a revenue management professional for Hilton Hotels, came to participate in LSRFA the same way that so many other people do: through the suggestion of a friend who happened to have been affiliated with the ride.

“He [the friend] knew that I was into fitness,” Baker says. “And I thought it would be a good challenge for me, so I signed up.”

Although Baker was a runner and a regular at her local gym, she was totally new to cycling. But once in the saddle, she became happily addicted to the two-wheeled experience.

“It’s awesome!” she raves. “With working out, you can get bored because your body gets used to it. But every time [I go cycling], it’s something new.”

The fact that she was doing something she adored in service of a good cause made it that much easier for her to keep up with her newfound hobby. But it was the relationships she established along the way that made her want to commit to LSRFA long term.

“I made a particularly good set of friends last year,” recalls Baker. “On the morning before the ride, I noticed they all had the same jerseys on. And I said, ‘Hey, how come I didn’t get the message about the matching jerseys?’

“One of them made a joke and said, ‘Honey, you don’t want to wear this jersey,’” she continues. “[Then I found out] that the jersey stood for the Positive Pedaler team — my [new] friends were all HIV-positive.”

In the blink of an eye, what for Baker had just been a fitness event suddenly became much more personal.

“These were people I had gotten to know really well,” she says. “[But] I had [had] no idea that they were impacted by the disease. It stopped me in my tracks and made me realize what I was riding for.”

The event has now become a family affair. This year, Baker’s husband, a paramedic, will be serving on the LSRFA medical team.

“He’s gotten to know some of the friends I made last year, so he really wants to be part of it, too,” Baker says. “He wants to help out because he thinks the LSRFA is such a neat thing.”

As straight supporters of the ride, the Bakers know they are in the minority. But this fact doesn’t faze either one of them.

“Nobody makes you feel any different because [ultimately] you aren’t,” says the sophomore cyclist.

Her participation in LSRFA has also given Baker insights that have deepened her understanding of the friends and community on whose behalf she — and now her husband — volunteer.

“I feel that the gay community is a lot more accepting than the straight community,” Baker remarks. “And for them to be so accepting of me — well, it just makes me sad for the straight community and how we treat [LGBT people].”

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS will be held Sept. 24-25. To donate to an individual rider, to a team or to the Ride itself, go online to LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Query • 12.31.10

What’s your New Years resolution?

Jason A Walker — “I made a resolution last year to stop making resolutions and I kept it all year. First time I’ve ever done that.”

Felipe Gutierrez — “To join the Air Force Reserves.”

Paul Phelps — “Lose weight and not shop too much.”

Jibril Salami — “To become better as a person and better myself. But I have so many, that’s just one of em!”

Latisha McDaniel — “To stay consistent with the workout regimen.”

Ivan Rowe Watson
— “To become more of a well-rounded person.”

Chris Yannacone
— “Drop some holiday weight.”

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Query • 12.17.10

What’s your preferred holiday greeting and why?

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John Kroll — “I respond however I’m greeted. ‘Merry Christmas’ gets ‘Merry Christmas;’ ‘Happy Hanukah’ gets ‘Happy Hanukah,’ and so on.”

Terry Don — “A hug. No matter the greeting it gets a hug.”

Tomi Kuczynski — “My preferred is ‘Merry Christmas’ because it is what I grew up with and has many memories attached to it. But I also believe in respecting others’ cultures and beliefs by greeting with happy holidays when with an acquaintance or client.”

Courtney Davis — “I say ‘Happy Holidays’ out of respect for someone’s culture and religion. The nasty right wing gets so upset over this. Really?”

Jason A. Walker — “Depends on what holiday it is and what the cultural/religious tradition of the person I’m speaking to is. If I don’t know the person to whom I’m speaking I generally go with ‘hello.’”
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.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Query • 12.10.10

Do you call the two Texas senators when a vote like DADT comes up?

…………………..

Gregg S. Gunter — “Absolutely! They have paid staff members to take our phone calls and listen to their constituents! Democracy in action!”

Carl Smith — “No. I e-mail them — repeatedly — and encourage others to do the same.”

Kissiah Aiken — “No. I don’t figure they give a damn, being Republicans.”

Latisha McDaniel — “Never hurts.”

Alex Hanselka — “No. I should probably.”

Elizabeth Parker — “E-mail repeatedly.”

Brian Burcham  — “Definitely call them. They need to know that it is time for DADT to be repealed!”

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Query • 12.03.10

Are you excited about the Super Bowl coming to DFW?

………………………

Bobby Natale — “No, not really — at least not about the game. But the clubs are going to be hopping, hooking the up the economy. Positive thing there.”

Daniela Gonzalez — “No! My job will be a pain.”

Cristov Russell — “Not in the slightest.”

Raun Savage — “Am I looking forward to it? The simple answer would be no. However, I am grateful for the boost it will bring to our local economy.”

Evilu Pridgeon — “Rent your house to people going to the game and be someone else making money besides Jerry Jones.”

Holly Smith — “No! I live literally across the street from that giant eyesore! I still haven’t figured out how I am going to leave my house! Anyone want to put me and my three doggies up for a few nights?”

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Query • 11.19.10

What are you thankful for this year?

…………………….

Carrie Kouri — “I am thankful this year for having such wonderful friends and a loving family in my life!”

Joe S. Hoselton — “GLAAD…without which we might not be on DVD.”

Carl Smith — “I’m thankful to live in a country where the only thing that can hold me back is myself.”

Ty Pressley — “Friends who can make me laugh no matter how bad my day has been.”

Myrna Roy Collins — “My life partner, my daughters, my granddaughter, my aunts and my mom, and last but surely not least, all my friends.”

Kevin White — “I’m thankful that, as a community nationwide, we are standing up loud and clear against the torment bullying has caused so many children just because they are gay.”

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Query • 10.01.10

Have you or your children been bullied in school?

………………………….

Gary Shephard — “Yes. The school I attended in rural Florida put me through hell in 9th and 10th grade. I wound up back in Philadelphia the next year; it was such a relief.”

Latisha McDaniel — “Yeah, I think everyone got picked on in school but the difference now is that there is no escape like when I was a kid. The bullying stayed in the school.”

John S. Shore — “I was more than bullied my entire life. All the kids, bus drivers, coaches and teachers allowed and watched me get beat up. Let’s teach karate and peace.”

Ron Allen —  “The problem is the attitude that ‘It’s just part of growing up.’ When parents, teachers, school officials, bus drivers and others in authority have that attitude that’s what drives our gay and lesbian children to view suicide as the only solution to a daily existence that has become intolerable to them. Yes, I was bullied unmercifully as a child and a teenager in a small town in the South.”

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Query • 09.10.10

Have you decided how you will vote in the November election?

……………………….

Robert Raymo — “Yes. It’s time for change. I’m tired of the status quo. Rick Perry has served this state for too long. Bill White gets my vote, no doubt about it.”

Thomas Hill — “Gov. Perry has served his interests more than the state’s interests long enough.”

Fabian Figueroa-Sepulveda — “I’m remaining neutral.”

Ben Mitchell — “Libertarian for me. I like their platform. If all gay people would support Libertarians, we might actually have a shot at changing things. The Republicans are still controlled by the religious right, and the Democrats do nothing but give us empty promises.”

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Query • 09.03.10

How should we respond when someone who has been an anti-gay activist comes out?

……………………….

Tiffany Brown — “Good question. It is a love/hate relationship.”

Brian Hudson — “Applaud them! If we reject them it will cause others in the closet to retreat further inside.”

Chris Reed — “With support and not taking petty shots.”

Felipe Gutierrez — “I understand the support part to ensure that others come out. However they don’t have my support.”

Jen Jones — “You can support them for coming out of the closet. You still don’t have to vote for them.”

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Query • 08.20.10

What are you doing to beat the heat?

……………………….

Jerry Birdwell — “Come and visit Lake Tahoe. Forecast for today is a high of 72.”

Dorian Dean — “Staying in air conditioning, as much as possible and driving up the electric utility’s profit margin.”

Natalie Phillips — “Going to the pool.”

Lisa Rainey — “Our central air went out so we are holed up in the bedroom with a window unit trying to stay cool.”

James Navarrette — “Staying indoors and catching up on ‘True Blood’ episodes.”

Ross Virock — “Drinking lots of water and driving with the top down, not much else I CAN do unless someone has a pool I can hang out by.”

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens