From Tragedy to Triumph: Fabian Quezada-Malkin
August 4, 2014
Fabian Quezada grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, but moved to Los Angeles in 2001 when he was only 17. He had always wanted to call L.A. home, so when he started dating a boy who lived there, he jumped at the chance to make the move. After a year and a half, though, the two young lovebirds parted ways and Fabian found himself on the streets with no family to come home to. He had no money, few friends and no way of knowing how to take care of himself. And just like that, his Hollywood dream quickly turned into a nightmare.
While hopping from couch to couch, he learned at the age of 18 that he was HIV positive. Fabian found himself in a downward spiral filled with drinking and drugs when he met a new man who shared in his destructive habits. The tenuous relationship was filled with physical and emotional abuse, fueled by sleepless nights of alcohol, GHB and crystal meth.
Fabian knew he couldn't continue on like this, so he turned to the ex-boyfriend he had moved to L.A. for and asked for help. His ex agreed to help, but only if Fabian got sober. Without a second thought, Fabian got clean and began working toward the life he originally thought he would have in the City of Dreams.
"It was that cliché relationship," says Fabian. "After all the abuse and drugs, I started to believe that I deserved it. After becoming sober, I realized that I was wrong and decided to leave him."
But Fabian still had no money and he refused to return to Guadalajara. Some of his friends told him about the Los Angeles LGBT Center's youth program so he decided to give it a shot. Fabian moved into their transitional living center where they fed him, gave him tokens for bus fare and became the support system he needed. After about three years of living in the center off and on, Fabian was able to turn his life around.
"They basically helped me grow up," Fabian says. "I didn't know how to pay bills and save money. They had these programs that taught me all of that. I also got my HIV services from them. They were really good to me."
While Fabian was living in the transitional living center, he attended cosmetology school where he received his license to be a hair stylist.
After leaving the youth program, he stayed connected with the people and the programs of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. In 2006, he learned about AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) and wanted to participate, but was a too intimidated to sign up. But in 2010, he gathered the courage to join Team Funky Monkeys and has been coming back ever since.
"The experience was so overwhelmingly positive," Fabian says. "I was crying a lot. Dealing with HIV myself, it was an overpowering experience to see just how many people cared and supported me. They talk about the love bubble that happens here. It is real, and that is why I keep coming back."
Today, Fabian is a successful hair stylist in Beverly Hills and recently married E! News correspondent Marc Malkin. As he peddled through the crowds at this year's opening ceremony, Fabian's handsome husband yelled out to him, "I love you!" And he was off.
Fabian personifies what ALC is all about. The services that the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation provide are changing the lives of people like Fabian every day; turning people's personal tragedies into undeniable feats of triumph. Fabian started out with ALC in search of a community that would offer compassion, understanding and support for those affected by HIV. Now, he serves as an inspiration in the community of what it is to truly live with HIV.
AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It's a life-changing ride -- not a race -- through some of California's most beautiful countryside. AIDS/LifeCycle is coproduced by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and is designed to advance their shared mission to reduce new HIV infections and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS. This year, over 3,000 cyclists and volunteer roadies raised just over $15 million.
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