Friday, April 04, 2008

Gay HIV+ Latino Vet is
Olympics Torch-bear-er

My friend John Caldera and I have seen each other recently, at the YMCA where we exercise, or at City Hall, where he volunteers in Sup. Ross Mirkarimi's office, and he hasn't said a thing to me about applying to be a torchbearer for the Olympic Torch when it passes through town.

I can't think of a better politically-motivated bear to use this sports-related opportunity to promote visibility of all the different parts of his identity, including having a well-developed muscle bear body and laid back attitude!

So today I found out he's been selected to carry the torch for a portion of it's route, according to a story posted on the Bay Area Reporter web site on Thursday, and I congratulate John for this honor:
At least one of the 80 people who will carry the Olympic torch during its stop in San Francisco next week will be a gay, HIV-positive Navy veteran.

John Caldera, 43, who serves on the city's Veterans Affairs Commission, revealed this week he has been tapped to carry the Olympic flame when it comes to town Wednesday, April 9 as it makes its round-the-world trip ahead of the 2008 Summer Games, which take place August 8-24 in Beijing, China. [...]

Caldera told the Bay Area Reporter Thursday, April 3 that he was unaware if any other torchbearers will be members of the LGBT community. [...]

Caldera said while he supports the protesters' right to speak out against Chinese policy, he saw no reason not to participate in the relay.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. No one in my family has been a torchbearer," said Caldera. "Those who want to protest should be able to protest. I just hope I don't get hit with tomatoes." [...]
Naturally, I'm pleased the Chinese officials choose San Francisco as one city for the torch to pass through on the way to Beijing, all because it affords human rights advocates of many causes related to China to protest government policies.

Not only will the protesters lining the torch route send a loud message to Beijing, and the athletes participating in the games, but the choice of torchbearers in San Francisco, including John, will also a small signal for the Chinese government to respect its gays citizens and persons living with HIV.

(Photo descriptions: Top photo of John is from a bear charity fund-raising event at the Lone Star. Bottom photo of John was taken at last year's Lazy Bear event at the Russian River.)

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