What’s in a Name?
When the AIDS epidemic first hit, people didn’t have common knowledge about how you could “catch” the virus that would become known as HIV. Fear was pervasive and many who were infected were evicted from their housing or turned away by family and friends. In the mid 1980’s a gentleman by the name of Ray Bierle opened his door to help, caring for homeless and very ill individuals at his Oceanside home. When neighbors began to inquire why so many (mostly male) people lived at one house, his stock answer was, “Tell them it’s a fraternity house.” The name stuck and the organization was formally incorporated as a 501(C)(3) non-profit in 1988.
So why do we usually make sure that we say the “Inc.” part of our name? Because we have TWO homes. Michaelle House, our second home, is in named in honor of Michaelle Liddell. Michaelle (pronounced like the common spelling of the female name Michelle) was one of the first women in San Diego County to speak out about her HIV status. At a time when most people thought of AIDS as a “gay” disease, a straight, Caucasian, married, mother of two was able to shatter stereotypes in a way that others could not. Michaelle spoke at the city, county and state level, advocating for services, meeting the stigma head-on, and making sure people understood that HIV does not discriminate.