BBH Volunteer Board Member
Read about the writer, Ellie David.
Facing the Stigma of HIV
When David Rogers discovered Bailey-Boushay House, he immediately knew: "That's who I want to support in honor of Rudy's memory."
David's first partner, Rudy Hebert, died of AIDS in 1990.
"We lived in Dallas, and there was nothing like Bailey-Boushay," David says. "He had a pretty bad last year of life. It was overwhelming."
As a longtime donor who is also a long-term survivor (he's been HIV-positive for more than 25 years), David made an important personal decision at the end of 2012.
"I realized I need to give more than just money," David says. "I need to give myself."
Within months, he had joined Bailey-Boushay's board of directors. "I'm very proud of it," he says.
His "heart and soul" commitment to volunteer as a board member inspired David to finally risk coming out as HIV-positive.
He loves his work as director of real estate development for Costco. But he had never revealed his health status to anyone outside his closest family and friends. So when he took an extended medical leave back in 2009, no one at work knew that his medical crisis began with a bad reaction to an HIV drug.
"Costco took care of me that entire year," he says. "I can't say enough about how well Costco treats its employees." But even in that supportive environment, David was afraid the stigma of HIV would cause his boss to think he couldn't do the job.
In 2013, David broke his long silence. And his boss responded not with fear, but compassion: "My boss said, 'Can I give you a hug?'"
David has a new outlook on life. "My purpose now is to get my story out to help other guys be less afraid of sharing their story — especially executives like me," he says.
He was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support both at his work and in his personal life. And he feels "free as a bird" without the isolating burden of secrecy.
His reasons for wanting to help Bailey-Boushay are many. They range from the personal ("I know what patients here go through") to the practical ("I've been good at raising money since I was a kid").
At the top of David's list is gratitude: "I have found my purpose in life now."