You may know him as a leather titleholder, an aerialist, a calendar model, an HIV activist or as another hot man stripping against stigma. You may not know that Chandler Bearden is also laid up, and you can help.
Bearden has long been active giving back to gay Atlanta. He has given back in his roles as Mr. Atlanta Eagle, as a half-naked Mr. Friendly guinea pig, a NOH8 poser, or as a circus act (top photo). He selflessly donates his time and resources as a man-wrangler, as Big Gay Game Show Family Feud emcee, a would-be reality star, or perhaps simply as the MISTER Center outreach team leader at his day job.
That spirit is exactly why friends are clamoring to raise thousands to help Bearden when a previously undetected birth defect laid him up and out for more than two weeks following a surgery to remove part of his intestine. The recovery time out of the hospital is taking even longer.
“Seeing as how this procedure has a lengthy recovery time, I was out of work for over two-and-a-half months,” Bearden tells Project Q Atlanta. “I just returned last week to MISTER and am working shorter hours but building back to my normal schedule slowly but surely.”
But the financial toll may take even longer to recover, says says John Jeffrey, a friend of Bearden’s who started a GoFundMe campaign to offset some of the medical expenses. The campaign has raised more than $4,000 since it went live on Dec. 4 and posts a goal of $7,000 to get Bearden back on his feet faster.
“We had discussed how stressed he was about being out of work that long and the financial stress of being without your regular income,” Jeffery says. “Many of his friends and I talked about pooling our money or starting a fund like this to help him.”
For his part, Bearden is grateful to have so many people come to his aid.
“It's quite humbling for anyone to have to ask for help and no easier for me,” Bearden says. “I don't even know how to express the gratitude and honor I feel in those who are helping. I'm honestly very blown away.”
Jeffrey says that, though humble, Bearden has earned the support through countless hours of activism and volunteerism.
“He is not one to take a quick hand out when he thinks someone else deserves it more,” Jeffrey adds. “He has been there to help so many others and has done some amazing things for people in need without looking for recognition. When I wrote the recap [for GoFundMe], I realized all of the unique groups that he has impacted. Suffice to say he has paid his karma forward.”
You can find the crowdfunding campaign for Bearden and contribute here.