My Son Died of AIDS 2 Years Ago: I'm Riding 545 Miles So Others Won't

David Flanagan won't ever forget the HIV/AIDS-related death of his son Josh, complete with bedsores, a collapsed lung, and health care workers who seemed to know little about how to treat him. It was a fate suffered by too many gay men in the '80s. Josh, however, died just two years ago and only five months after being diagnosed HIV-positive.

David, 54, is participating in this week's AIDS/LifeCycle, along with his wife Talana, to tell the story of their 27-year-old son who died without access to the care that could have saved him.


Josh had planned to ride on AIDS/LifeCycle. After he died, his friends invited his dad to ride with them on their "New Bear Republic Team." David didn't understand the relevance of the term "bear" until he joined the team members in San Francisco for the start of the 545-mile ride to Los Angeles. Now he's as happy and proud as his son to identify as a bear.

From a rural town in Texas, they've joined about 3,000 other people, from nearly every state in the union and 21 countries, to raise a record $16.3 million for San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the HIV/AIDS-related services of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

This short, emotional video tells their story: