"I was attending a funeral about every 12-16 days"
February 16, 2015 3:32 AM   Subscribe

I kept a memory book/photo album of everyone I knew that died of AIDS. It's quite large to say the least. Who were these guys? These were the people I had planned to grow old with. They were the family I had created and wanted to spend the rest of my life with as long as humanly possible but by the time I was in my late 40's, every one of them was gone except for two dear friends of mine.
Redditors share memories of having lived through the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the early eighties.

One point worth highlighting is the role of the lesbian community during the crisis:
It was, at the time, not at all unusual for gay men to snicker as the bull dyke walked into the bar with her overalls and flannels and fades. Much of the time, it was casual ribbing which they took in stride. But it could also be laced with acid, especially when lesbians began gravitating toward a bar that had until then catered largely to men.

When the AIDS crisis struck, it would be many of these same women who would go straight from their jobs during the day to acting as caregivers at night. Because most of them lacked medical degrees, they were generally relegated to the most unpleasant tasks: wiping up puke and shit, cleaning up houses and apartments neglected for weeks and months. But not being directly responsible for medical care also made them the most convenient targets for the devastating anger and rage these men felt - many who’d been abandoned by their own family and friends.
An earlier thread on the same subject is also worth browsing, especially on the politics that shaped the epidemic in the US:
The first AIDS victims discussed by the national GOP were a child hemophelliac, and a woman whose husband contracted it from extramarital sex (gave talks at the National convention in 1988). The GOP couldn't completely ignore the epidemic, so they focussed on those tiny populations (kids, and heterosexual middle-class housewives) which they cared about; they GOP couldn't be seen expressing any sympathy at all to gay men who contracted it sexually, or drug addicts who shared needles. Screw them, they deserved it. was what the GOP was saying (and the Democrats weren't much better).

That led to a realization in the gay community that politicians were happy to just let them all die. And it led to political movements like ActUp! which meant to embarrass the political establishment with those facts. And to push people out of the closet -- because the inability to even talk about gay people was seen as contributing to a conspiracy of silence ("Silence=Death!" was the resulting slogan). Because of the stigma, some people would have sympathetic doctors hide that HIV was in any way involved with their death, and the "cause of death" would make no mention of it, though usually the disease would be a tip-off since it would be common among AIDS sufferers. "
posted by MartinWisse (87 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bonus: Larry Kramer's 1983 article on the response of the gay community to the crisis: 1,112 and Counting.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:35 AM on February 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


Bonus: Larry Kramer's 1983 article on the response of the gay community to the crisis: 1,112 and Counting.

Wow. That scorches off the page, even 31 years later.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:27 AM on February 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


For a long time I assumed Jim Henson died of AIDS because his obits said he did of pneumonia. (1990)
posted by bq at 6:08 AM on February 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Screw them, they deserved it. was what the GOP was saying (and the Democrats weren't much better).

That's an uncharitable way of looking at it. No one understood this disease at the time; the one thing they did understand was that gay men spread it among themselves, and its rapid spread brought to light for the first time the absolutely rampant free-for-all of sex among gay men, something "normal" people knew nothing about; what did you expect a bunch of people born during and before World War II to think about this disease which had very little chance of affecting people who did not engage in that behavior?

To attribute that belief to an entire party platform is ungenerous.
posted by resurrexit at 6:09 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine tells the story of joining the NYC Gay Men's Chorus and singing at three funerals his first weekend. The Chorus has its own Quilt panel, which they keep separately from the official quilt archives, because they still add to it. The quilt is a depiction of the NYC skyline, and since it was created in the 80s, it also features the World Trade Center towers.

The rule of the quilt is that if you were partnered/married to someone who is also on the quilt, your stars in the night sky will be touching. At least one Chorus member lived with AIDS long enough to have his star touching two different husbands he had in the Chorus.

I was a little kid in the 1980s, but have lost quite a few friends to HIV/AIDS in the 2000s, including the man who I hope to name my first child after, if I ever have kids.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:23 AM on February 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


To attribute that belief to an entire party platform is ungenerous.

Wrong.

That was the Republican attitude throughout the AIDS crisis and that was the reason the epidemic was so much worse in the US than elsewhere. No money, no attention was paid to the disease until "innocent" people started suffering from it.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:28 AM on February 16, 2015 [55 favorites]


To attribute that belief to an entire party platform is ungenerous.

As described in this SFGate article, the Republicans raised money and basically campaigned on anti-gay sentiment. Gay people, starting in the early to mid 1970s, started causing trouble by, you know, publicly existing. It's hard for me to describe what it was like to people who weren't there. People were shocked and horrified that gay people refused to feel shame. I remember a conservative newspaper editorial claiming that non-discrimination policies would lead to public fist-fucking. I remember thugs expressing shock at being arrested for assaulting gay people because they thought it was legal.

I am prepared to cut a great deal of slack for people who grew up in a very different world with different social mores. I've had elderly relatives who, for example, just couldn't seem to understand that "nigger" was an offensive term but didn't really mean harm by it. That is a totally different phenomenon from people who either enjoyed seeing people they didn't like suffer or who were willing to let people they didn't like suffer in the name of political gain. That is what the Republicans, and more than a few Democrats, were doing at the time.

A great many people of that era did not live up to their full potential as compassionate, caring human beings. It's unfortunate.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 6:38 AM on February 16, 2015 [52 favorites]


No money, no attention was paid to the disease until "innocent" people started suffering from it.

To be clear, the Democrats were not better. Mario Cuomo, governor of New York, and Ed Koch, mayor of New York City, largely ignored the epidemic as well.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:38 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


There aren't enough . In the world to show what was lost and is still being lost.

A point from the reddit thread that I'd never realised before, but had this generation of people not been decimated we would have had same sex marriage twenty years ago.

Reading about the spread and initial terror puts into perspectice the fear over SARs and birdflu and in a different manner ebola.
posted by Braeburn at 6:49 AM on February 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


My experience of caring and loss in the HIV epidemic was not that gay men lashed out at dykes because of our appearance - those queeny criticisms were from the 1970s. Gay men lashed out because we would live and our communities flourish, while they died and their communities and institutions collapsed.

Two of my most direct recollections of the late 1980e implosion were among the motorcycle (leather fetish) clubs which began to admit dyke members just to survive organizationally, and leather bars which admitted dyke patrons and hired dyke staff for the first times. Most notably, even the Denver Rocky Mountaineers, the 2nd-oldest surviving men's motorcycle club, even had a female president (an ex-lover of mine - we joined at the same time); I worked as a 2nd-job bartender at the Denver Triangle, PDX Eagle, Seattle Eagle, and Cuff leatherbars, while Sparks' leatherbar in Seattle (now Re-Bar queer/alternative performance space/bar where Hedwig & The Angry Inch was developed) was the only dyke leatherbar in the world for about a year after the original owner and most of his clientele died.

Yeah, some guys, especially when drunk, resented having women in their formerly all-male cruising grounds, but they also all knew we were necessary to keep the doors open. Oh, and the Rocly Mpuntainers
MC? All-male and motorcycles required for membership again (I assume transmen are welcome, but the only trans* member I knew personally was stealth). Their only dyke past president died of breast cancer a few years ago, ironically.

(Soory for the lack of links, I'm on my mobile. Bit check out community timelines and oral histories at The Leather Arhives & Museum sometime).
posted by Dreidl at 6:51 AM on February 16, 2015 [39 favorites]


Because most of them lacked medical degrees, they were generally relegated to the most unpleasant tasks: wiping up puke and shit, cleaning up houses and apartments neglected for weeks and months. But not being directly responsible for medical care also made them the most convenient targets for the devastating anger and rage these men felt - many who’d been abandoned by their own family and friends.

That was me (except for the lesbian part). Totally unskilled and unprepared for what I was taking on. Wiping up puke, cleaning up neglected living spaces, and accompanying people to their doctors appointments where they were often the only ones being seen in the office that day, was a piece of cake compared to trying to help with the isolation, loneliness and abandonment by family, and yes, even sometimes their own gay friends.

I'm ashamed to say that I only lasted 2 years.
posted by ezust at 6:52 AM on February 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


but had this generation of people not been decimated we would have had same sex marriage twenty years ago

I think that's unlikely, but impossible to tell.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:53 AM on February 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


but had this generation of people not been decimated we would have had same sex marriage twenty years ago

I'm skeptical of this point, myself, because prior to AIDS, the various groups that claimed to represent us were still fighting over whether we should follow the boring old heterosexual model or transcend marriage with seventies-style open-whatevers and oh-so-modernisms.

AIDS drove gay men into the marriage model like no amount of hectoring from Larry Kramer ever could, and the wretched thing that was done to us by our government and our fellow Americans generated a lot of sympathy on the back end, when mainstream folks had the clarity of recorded history to illustrate just what they'd done. I'd say we got marriage equality in large part because of the genocidal indifference of the eighties, whereas a Reagan age without the plague would have just been more of the same old squabble.

Mass murder by inaction is a hell of a unifying force.
posted by sonascope at 6:59 AM on February 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


To attribute that belief to an entire party platform is ungenerous.

Yes, obviously the lesson to draw from the AIDS crisis is that we must be careful about what motivations and feelings we ascribe to the people who looked around at thousands and thousands of people suffering in sickness and did nothing, nor evinced any obvious desire to do anything. Because the important thing is not the dead people who died in lonely suffering but how discussing the dead people who died in lonely suffering makes conservatives feel bad.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:02 AM on February 16, 2015 [64 favorites]


That's an uncharitable way of looking at it. No one understood this disease at the time; the one thing they did understand was that gay men spread it among themselves, and its rapid spread brought to light for the first time the absolutely rampant free-for-all of sex among gay men, something "normal" people knew nothing about; what did you expect a bunch of people born during and before World War II to think about this disease which had very little chance of affecting people who did not engage in that behavior?

To attribute that belief to an entire party platform is ungenerous.


"Your honor, my client didn't do it and if he did he was justified."

The position of the Republican party in the 80s was that people like me should die and die quickly. This only stopped being OK to say in public in the last decade or so.

Deal with it.
posted by PMdixon at 7:07 AM on February 16, 2015 [29 favorites]


[Comment deleted. Comparing people who have AIDS to antivaxxers looks like straight-up trolling. Cut it out.]
posted by taz at 7:13 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


If it hadn't been for HIV slaughtering the US white gay male political and economic leadership in the 1980s and 1990s, there would be no QUILTBAG concept, and a much smaller US leadership cohort of men of color, dykes and transfolk. As the AIDS crisis receded for gay white urban cis-men due to effective and accessible-to-them medical treatment, that same relatively privileged group's concens returned to the public and political forefronts. And that's how the ending of DADT and the rise of SSM arrived before any federal version of ENDA, or that an ENDA which excluded transpeople was even possible. Because the federal version of ENDA was tailored to advantage gay men and dykes working in large corporate, public-sector, and/or union environments. And threw everyone else, the ones with little political access and less money, under the bus.
posted by Dreidl at 7:19 AM on February 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


uncharitable...ungenerous

resurrexit, I can't see anything in your comment that makes the interpretation you responded to uncharitable or ungenerous. You appear to be making an apology for the "screw them" atttitude, not refuting it.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:20 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Short version: SSM keeps $ in the gay male family.
posted by Dreidl at 7:21 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm skeptical of this point, myself, because prior to AIDS, the various groups that claimed to represent us were still fighting over whether we should follow the boring old heterosexual model or transcend marriage with seventies-style open-whatevers and oh-so-modernism

This is a sad thread, but that makes me laugh. Not so much has changed with politically minded gays really. Which is the right labels, should we be fighting societal norms or fighting to fit in etc etc.

Re marriage: it's all a lot of what ifs and what could have been in a world with more LGBT elders.
posted by Braeburn at 7:23 AM on February 16, 2015


We have plenty of L B & T elders. I'm at least two of them. But we're mostly listening to the G ones again.
posted by Dreidl at 7:28 AM on February 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


If it hadn't been for HIV slaughtering the US white gay male political and economic leadership in the 1980s and 1990s, there would be no QUILTBAG concept,

This is not true, though. Stonewall/Mattachine/Daughters of Bilitis, etc. pre-date AIDS by more than a decade. Harvey Milk died before we knew there were cases of men living with HIV in San Francisco. The concept of the LGBT community was there.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:31 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


To attribute that belief to an entire party platform is ungenerous.

It has recently come to light that Rock Hudson, in his final days, made a direct appeal to Nancy Reagan to help him get into an AIDS treatment center in France; the center only saw Americans on an outpatient basis, and he was currently hospitalized after collapsing in his hotel. He was asking for a White House appeal to the hotel to waive its outpatient requirements and allow him to be transferred. She refused. Nine days later he was dead.

I find it hard to believe that "it wasn't GOP policy" to ignore the AIDS crisis when the then-president and party leader and his wife refused to help save the life of a longtime friend with AIDS.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:42 AM on February 16, 2015 [36 favorites]


I lived in San Francisco between 1983 and 1990. I'm not going to read it, I lived it. And yes, I too went to a lot of memorial services.

As for Reagan. Fuck him. Fuck ALL of the people in Washington who were playing politics with a public health crisis.

Now I'm going to be all GRAR today.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:43 AM on February 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Is this the thread where we talk about Elizabeth Taylor's role in stepping up during the AIDS crisis?

This is a very good page at Frontline with links, including Reagan's only speech on the subject of AIDS. Snippet: "By 1987, when Reagan gave the speech, 40,000 Americans already had died of AIDS and by 1990 as many as a million had been infected."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:04 AM on February 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's impoasible to quantify the ways the world would be different without AIDS, but there would have been more better disney movies.
posted by bq at 8:09 AM on February 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


That's an uncharitable way of looking at it. No one understood this disease at the time

They minimized it and hid their ideas from the public for years. They thought HIV/AIDS was a punchline, and Reagan directly contradicted what the CDC in his first public speech addressing it on the advice of his Assistant Counsel, a man who is now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

One can say the Democrats may not have been much better in the early years, but the rot in the GOP went all the way up throughout the decade (if not longer), and they were the ones who had the power to do something about it. That they chose not to because they saw it as a problem for the LGBT and African-American communities is one of the biggest public health atrocities of the 20th century. And judging by their response to Ebola and continued outlook on those communities, their views don't seem to have matured much, if at all, in the intervening decades.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:09 AM on February 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm ashamed to say that I only lasted 2 years.

I think you should be proud that you cared for people in need for 2 years.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:11 AM on February 16, 2015 [36 favorites]


bq, of course, Howard Ashman was also the lyricist of Little Shop of Horrors. Musical theatre had a great many lossses to AIDS, including Michael Bennett, but Ashman's death stands out as an enormous waste.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:11 AM on February 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I spent a weekend working at my former boss' house upstate. Got to meet his husband and we got talking about how they met and he mentioned that he had come out fairly late in life, in his late 30s. He'd spent his life before then dating women while knowing it didn't make sense.

I asked him if he regretted waiting to come out of the closet. He told me that he didn't. He reminded me that his was the missing generation of gay men and that if he had been out he might not have been there on that summer day. It was something that I hadn't thought about before.

Reading the Reddit thread taught me some history and reminded me of that conversation I had about a few years ago.

.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:13 AM on February 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Coincidentally, today is the yahrtzeit of artist Keith Haring. He died of HIV in 1990.
posted by Dreidl at 8:16 AM on February 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


I grew up in Houston, TX. It would probably have been in 1990 or 1991 that I remember the sensational gasp of breath at the news that the Houston police were actually addressing the epidemic of gay bashing going on at the time, by doing a sting -- they would have pairs of male cops walk out of a gay bar and turn down an alley, and then arrest the men who tried to assault them with tire irons and 2x4's with nails sticking out of them. What made this sensational was that Houston cops were willing to pretend to be gay for the three or four minutes it took them to draw an attack, not the assailants who protested "We didn't realize you was cops! We thought you was a couple of fags!" as they were being handcuffed. As was mentioned above, people really didn't believe that assault laws applied against gay men.
posted by KathrynT at 8:18 AM on February 16, 2015 [38 favorites]


"We Were Here" is a really powerful documentary about this, and it's on Netflix streaming.

I've got to wonder if / to what extend the epidemic factors into the generational shift in attitude about LGBT rights. Because I think most "millenials" like myself completely missed it. By the time I was old enough to pay attention, it was the '90s and the narrative seemed to be that AIDS was some disease that people like Magic Johnson had, but don't worry because you can't get it from a water fountain or from hugging. I didn't learn about the history of AIDS in the gay community until I was much older. By then it was like, people used to think AIDS was a gay disease? That seems pretty bigoted. Obviously anybody can get AIDS. People sure are dumb.
posted by gueneverey at 8:25 AM on February 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm a straight cis woman, who came of sexual age at a university in New York in 1989. My first semester there I had to sit through two presentations about safe sex from the school health clinic, there were GMHC signs everywhere alongside the Act Up ones and there were even more "Silence=Death" stickers about. I would, as a result, no sooner have sex without a condom than I would shave off my eyelids with a belt sander.

I worked in the school's office for their musical theater writing program as my campus job; one of the students was the first person I knew who had AIDS. He was diagnosed my sophomore year. A month after I graduated I went to his memorial service.

In 1999 I did a show and there was a guy in the cast who had a persistent nagging cough - nothing debilitating, just annoying. The show closed and life went on. Finally, 6 months later, he still had that cough and went to the doctor - and was diagnosed with AIDS. The word spread through the theater company and we were all shocked - but his own reaction was more of a relieved, "well, now I know why I had that damn cough!" He had started the cocktail, I heard, and was optimistic. We still had this reception in his honor, just in the company, nevertheless - a sort of show of "we heard and we are here for you." He showed up, looking a little embarrassed at the attention, and accepted all of our well-wishes and we all mingled and chatted, his closer friends talking to hi about his plans and him laughing at their jokes.

I never saw him again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:26 AM on February 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


KathrynT, I wonder if that was maybe triggered by the murder of Paul Broussard by ten teenagers.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:30 AM on February 16, 2015


I think it almost certainly was, that timeline is perfect. I was a junior in high school. The detail about the nail-studded 2x4s really stayed with me.
posted by KathrynT at 8:56 AM on February 16, 2015


I've got to wonder if / to what extend the epidemic factors into the generational shift in attitude about LGBT rights.

I think it probably factored in that way, but also in another way. I was too young to really be aware of the full horrors of the AIDS crisis while it was at its worst. But when I was a teenager, I was occasionally buttonholed by straight adults who had been in their 20s during the '80s and had witnessed not just the horrors of the disease, but the horrors of the way people with the disease were treated by their families. For example, a coworker at my first job made sure I knew about her friend whose family had taken his body away to bury it somewhere his partner wouldn't know about. I think bearing witness to that kind of cruelty made a lot of people (both gay and straight) realize how important LGBT equality and genuine legal protections actually were. My coworker couldn't really do anything concrete to help her friend or his partner, but she could damn well make sure no one forgot that such awful things happened, and that they needed to be prevented in the future.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 10:05 AM on February 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


To attribute that belief to an entire party platform is ungenerous.

Not when it was their platform.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:06 AM on February 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?
posted by PMdixon at 10:09 AM on February 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Time wounds all heels.

From the Michael Bronski piece I linked above:

But the public scandal over the Reagan administration’s reaction to AIDS is complex and goes much deeper, far beyond the commander in chief’s refusal to speak out about the epidemic. Reagan understood that a great deal of his power resided in a broad base of born-again Christian Republican conservatives who embraced a deeply reactionary social agenda of which a virulent, demonizing homophobia was a central tenet. In the media, men such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell articulated these sentiments that portrayed gay people as diseased sinners and promoted the idea that AIDS was a punishment from God and that the gay rights movement had to be stopped. In the Republican Party, zealous right-wingers such as Rep. William Dannemeyer of California and Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina hammered home this message. In the Reagan White House, people such as Secretary of Education William Bennett and Gary Bauer, Reagan’s domestic policy adviser, worked to enact it in the administration’s policies.

[...]

My students ask me how all of this could have happened. They are all smart, they understand politics, they understand the fear of AIDS, they understand how complicated — and confusing — history and life can be. But they cannot understand such indifference, even when politically motivated. I told one of my students that the most memorable Reagan AIDS moment for me was at the 1986 centenary rededication of the Statue of Liberty. The Reagans were there sitting next to French President Francois Mitterand and his wife, Danielle. Bob Hope was on stage entertaining the all-star audience. In the middle of a series of one-liners Hope quipped, “I just heard that the Statue of Liberty has AIDS but she doesn’t know if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or the Staten Island Fairy.” As the television camera panned the audience, the Mitterands looked appalled. The Reagans were laughing. By the end of 1989 and the Reagan years, 115,786 women and men had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States, and more than 70,000 of them had died.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:13 AM on February 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


By then it was like, people used to think AIDS was a gay disease? That seems pretty bigoted. Obviously anybody can get AIDS. People sure are dumb.
posted by gueneverey at 11:25 AM on February 16


Do you know what GRID was? That was what the scientists called it in the earliest days, because that's where they were finding the disease--among homosexual men. And, based on what the scientists were saying, that's how it was being reported in the press. Based on what the scientists were saying, one of the first HIV-service organizations was founded geared specifically towards gay men.

People weren't being dumb, people reacted to the information they were being given. It wasn't until the scientists had evidence of GRID among non-gays that they changed the naming system to AIDS, and then to HIV and AIDS. By that time, AIDS and its link to gay man had already been established in the public mind( Haitian and hemophiliacs were also at risk at the time, but they constituted a smaller group). That link is still there, even though HIV is now concentrated among others.

I'm not saying that bigotry didn't have an impact. I personally believe that the prejudice against gays propelled the perception of AIDS as strictly a gay disease. But the perception didn't arise out of nowhere.--it was just given a sustained life by bigotry even after new evidence disproved it.
posted by magstheaxe at 10:17 AM on February 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


> If it hadn't been for HIV slaughtering the US white gay male political and economic leadership in the 1980s and 1990s, there would be no QUILTBAG concept, and a much smaller US leadership cohort of men of color, dykes and transfolk.

I really hate this kind of ahistorical what-iffing. Especially when men of color who have sex with men are still at much higher risk of infection and face much higher barriers to care. Especially when they died at horrific rates a the height of the epidemic as well.

We cannot possibly know how our movements would have turned out without the devastation of the epidemic. What did we lose when people like Mark Ashton died*? He was 26 years old; he died in 1987. He was an intersectionalist long, long before we had Tumblr fights about it.

* See the movie. It's streaming on Amazon and probably other places. See it!
posted by rtha at 10:19 AM on February 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


From that Mark Ashton link:
Their collective sense of marginalisation was captured in a notorious Sun headline that branded the two groups "Pits and Perverts"[.]
Of course they did. Of COURSE they did.

Christ, what a bunch of assholes.
posted by St. Hubbins at 10:28 AM on February 16, 2015


It's so strange to read about that time when you lived through it. It's odd to realize I'm old enough that this is "history" now, you know what I mean?

The first person I ever knew whose test came back positive was Rick, a friend of a friend, and I was sitting in the kitchen with him as he was angrily questioning some healthcare provider over the phone. He (we?) didn't understand how Rick's test could come back positive, when (to his knowledge) all his sex partners who'd been tested had tested negative. It didn't seem logical, and it didn't seem fair. This was 1985, I was 17, Rick was 21.

I'm not going to go on and on, but I wish I could explain how absolutely certain it felt that if you were a gay man, you were going to get this disease and die. Period. You could maybe postpone it, if you practiced "safe sex," but really, there was a point when a lot of us felt like we didn't have much time, much choice, much help, and that our fate had been determined.
posted by MoxieProxy at 10:58 AM on February 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm ashamed to say that I only lasted 2 years.

Why? You lasted 2 years more than most other people even thought of. You should be lauded for helping.

t has recently come to light that Rock Hudson, in his final days, made a direct appeal to Nancy Reagan to help him get into an AIDS treatment center in France

We just had a thread about that and resurrexit was spewing the same vile homophobic garbage there too.

The first poz person I knew was a friend of my older sister; this would have been 1989 or 90. He would have been 19 or 20. His name is on the memorial in Cawthra Park, now, along with so terribly many others.

Fuck all the assholes who denied us research and funding and basic goddamn human compassion.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:11 AM on February 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


After I graduated college in the late 90s, I worked for a research pathologist for a few years and I remember him telling me about when he was first starting out in medicine. He talked about doing autopsies on men who'd died from what they were then calling 'GRID' and they really didn't know what is was.
posted by sciencegeek at 11:18 AM on February 16, 2015


And wait, duh sorry, the first poz person I knew was my uncle, my mother's stepbrother. I have no idea when he was diagnosed but based on what I know of his life (his dad, my grandfather, couldn't handle the gay thing and he ran away to NYC around when I was born; not much contact with the family) it would have been mid 80s.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:44 AM on February 16, 2015


It's really interesting as someone born in 1986, just how big a shift occurred in that time period. If I look at the gay men a few years older than me, the ones who survived tended to be closeted or conservative. My cohort was just barely young enough to have memories of the initial outbreak, but was also the first to get the "if you have unprotected sex ever you will get AIDS and die on the spot." I think that's still the message, but for those much younger than me their whole experience is about glossy ads with buff dudes rock climbing, which puts that safe sex message in a pile with the rest of the scare mongering.

I dunno. It's strange.
posted by PMdixon at 12:03 PM on February 16, 2015


SSM keeps $ in the gay male family

Except that more than 3/5 of same-sex marrriages in the US are between women. (link - see last paragraph.)

I was upset that employment protections for trans people were dropped, but same-sex marriage isn't a battle that primarily aids rich gay men. A majority of the people getting married are women (both gay and bi). Moreover, marriage equality is more important for poorer LGBT people than richer. Well-to-do people could always draw up legal contracts which protected property; poorer people can't afford lawyers.

What I have heard about marriage equality and AIDS is that the epidemic brought out what the most important rights of marriage is - not property, but hospital visitation and medical decision making. People were - and still are in some places, sadly - denied access to their dying partners, and that was more of a galvanization for marriage rights than any amount of inheritance.
posted by jb at 12:07 PM on February 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Except that more than 3/5 of same-sex marrriages in the US are between women.

Women haven't achieved income parity. Women are also more likely to have kids in their custody than men are, and this is even more true for women of color. Women may comprise more of the marriages, but it doesn't mean we have more of the money.

Moreover, marriage equality is more important for poorer LGBT people than richer. Well-to-do people could always draw up legal contracts which protected property; poorer people can't afford lawyers.

I don't know that this is true.

It's not an advantage for people who are poor enough to be on assistance, since getting married means your partner's income will count against you if you're on disability or otherwise getting assistance that looks at income.

Getting married may out you to your employer and cost you your job, which is more dangerous for people with less money and less bargaining power. Marriage does you no good if it would cost you your job.

With regard to access to lawyers, no matter how many non-marriage legal contracts you draw up, your biological family can still challenge your will, healthcare power of attorney, etc. if you're not actually married.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:04 PM on February 16, 2015


suddenly famous people began dropping like flies, all over the place. It's really hard to explain to younger people what a real plague it was, they're like 'why use condoms?' and won't believe
posted by maiamaia at 1:33 PM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


SSM keeps $ in the gay male family

Cut me in, because as SSM'd gay males, we ain't exactly the Medicis over here.

That said, these are great points:

Women haven't achieved income parity. Women are also more likely to have kids in their custody than men are, and this is even more true for women of color. Women may comprise more of the marriages, but it doesn't mean we have more of the money.


and

It's not an advantage for people who are poor enough to be on assistance, since getting married means your partner's income will count against you if you're on disability or otherwise getting assistance that looks at income.

Getting married may out you to your employer and cost you your job, which is more dangerous for people with less money and less bargaining power. Marriage does you no good if it would cost you your job.


I'm concerned that the SSM debate is overshadowing the need for ENDA or similar legislation. There are just way too many jurisdictions in the US where discrimination against people in employment on the basis of sexual orientation is not illegal.

Not implying it needs to be a choice between one or the other, mind you.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:47 PM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I didn't learn about the history of AIDS in the gay community until I was much older. By then it was like, people used to think AIDS was a gay disease? That seems pretty bigoted. Obviously anybody can get AIDS. People sure are dumb.

Wow. The past really is a foreign country.

AIDS was such an unknown at the time. I remember the day they figured out that it was transmitted through blood. Before that they were trying to figure out WHAT it actually was. They were looking at POPPERS as the reason for the syndrome for fuck's sake. So it wasn't necessarily dumb to think that it was a gay mens disease. It was faulty logic stemming from the overwhelming proportion of suffers who were gay men. It used to be the four H's. Homosexuals, Haitians, Heroin Users and Hemopheliacs.

I also remember the day they came out with a blood test to even be able to DIAGNOSE it. It was usually a guess based on the constellation of symptoms. Then the blood banks didn't want to use the test to screen the blood they had. Notice, they STILL ask as part of the screening if you have sex with gay men?

I remember the gay community being appalled and hostile at the prospect of closing the bath houses in San Francisco, and Mayor Fienstein catching all kinds of hell behind it.

Check out And The Band Played On, by Randy Shilts. It's a pretty decent documentation of the panic surrounding the early days of AIDS. Although he really does a number on Gaetan Dugas.

We weren't dumb. We were encountering something we had NEVER seen before and our medical technology was 35 years older.

Jesus it was a scary time.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:03 PM on February 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


thank you to everyone who shared your stories. i am sending love and hugs your way, if you want them.
posted by nadawi at 3:07 PM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm concerned that the SSM debate is overshadowing the need for ENDA or similar legislation. There are just way too many jurisdictions in the US where discrimination against people in employment on the basis of sexual orientation is not illegal.

I agree - I came out in the early 90s at the age of 15 and was surprised and disappointed to find people shifting from healthcare and job discrimination to marriage as the watershed issue. Every time there's a big marriage campaign I find myself wondering what we could have bought ourselves if we'd spent the money developing support services for our communities - shelters for homeless youth and support programs for people living with HIV come to mind...
posted by bile and syntax at 3:13 PM on February 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


i am sending love and hugs your way, if you want them.

I'll take those hugs, and I'll send them to all of my friends in Heaven, a disproportionate number of whom are named David.

I'll also send hugs to my friends who have been living with AIDS for decades now. You guys are living miracles and we're learning important things from you!

Honestly, part of the reason I can't live in San Francisco anymore is that I see ghosts everywhere. There's a loss and sadness that pervades my lovely city, and it's such a damn waste.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:16 PM on February 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Moreover, marriage equality is more important for poorer LGBT people than richer.

This argument has been had before. It's not that richer people benefit disproportionately from marriage, it's that marriage doesn't do you a whole lot of good when you can't get a job or housing because you're queer and money (and whiteness) insulates you from that.
posted by hoyland at 3:36 PM on February 16, 2015


I didn't learn about the history of AIDS in the gay community until I was much older. By then it was like, people used to think AIDS was a gay disease? That seems pretty bigoted. Obviously anybody can get AIDS. People sure are dumb.

I'm also of the "anyone can (and will, if they don't use a condom) get AIDs" generation - I was in sex ed in the late 80s/early 90s. It was a good intentioned message - they wanted us all to have safe sex. But maybe it made me underestimate the prevalence of AIDs, because no one I knew (in a mostly straight community) was directly affected by HIV.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I learned how disproportionate the prevalence of HIV still is for men who sleep with men. It's a serious issue for gay men my age or younger - but I spend most of my time in the queer community among women, and it feels so distant for our generation.
posted by jb at 4:20 PM on February 16, 2015


Sorry folks, I really wasn't trying to make light of what was a serious medical mystery. It's just that when you first learn about it as a historical event, the popular perception of AIDS afflicting only gay men (with the subtext that they deserve it for being so immoral) reads like so many other bygone theories that are plainly dripping with prejudice. Once upon a time, we thought women's uteruses would fall out if they ran or played sports! And we thought blacks were naturally unruly and dumb! And we thought you got AIDS from being gay! Stuff like that seems dumb. Not because doctors and society didn't instantly figure out how HIV/AIDS works, but because people who already held prejudices against gays would use the threat of AIDS as one more excuse to shame and marginalize an already marginalized segment of the population.
posted by gueneverey at 4:24 PM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


A group of guys on two occasions came by apartment and borrowed my party dresses, so they had wearables for their weekend jaunts to the Bay Area, and the baths. They are all passed away. A boy I had a crush on asked me how many people I thought he had been with, "I bet you are a virgin," I said. He said, "What if I told you I have been with more than 400 people, ten of them women?" I said, "You are only 19, how could you have done that?" He said, "If you take certain drugs you can have sex with as many as 70 people in a night, at the baths in San Francisco." He also perished, along with all the gay men I knew, with the exception of two very old friends. Maybe I missed another one or two but probably not. They were so happy and committed to their partners, and their grand times, all gone the cowboys, the hippies, the intellectuals, the artists. Brothers in arms watch over this crazy quilt of a world, and come back to us.

P.S. I remember an article about a teenaged man in 1968 or 1969 whose infection, found from tissue samples made him patient zero.
posted by Oyéah at 4:35 PM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


P.S. I remember an article about a teenaged man in 1968 or 1969 whose infection, found from tissue samples made him patient zero.

Robert Rayford
posted by andoatnp at 5:27 PM on February 16, 2015


My late teenage years/early twenties coincided with that rare space in time, that short window in human history when it was relatively safe to have sex. The so called sex-revolution was in full swing, the birth control pill was available, VD was treatable with penicillin -- and it was the pre-AIDS era. Few of us had any idea what a magical safe little bubble we lived in.

Then you started hearing about this mystery disease that was killing gays. Before it was called GRID, it was called Gay Cancer.

I always had a lot of gay friends so I was very worried for them. There was no internet (or at least in any widespread use) so you depended on word of mouth or the ridiculously infrequent and feeble coverage in mainstream media. Stories got more and more frightening. Millions of questions, very few answers.

But somehow a year or so passed. It seemed like something that happened elsewhere, the big cities. It didn't really touch my life in any close way until I moved to Maine. I worked at an ad agency and we decided that our pro bono cause would be AIDS benefits. That was when I met Ed, the first person I knew who had AIDS. He was our liaison and a one-man educator, a sweet and loving guy. I remember going over to his house for planning one night and he had cooked dinner. I am embarrassed to say that I had a fair degree of anxiety for weeks after that dinner about potential contagion - had he washed his hands? Could you get AIDS that way? Ignorance and misinformation were rife at the time. But at that dinner, he put a copy of The Band Played On in my hands, and that educated me and opened my eyes.

Through fundraising work, I became close with a circle of friends. We put on Halloween masquerade balls, we held auctions, we brought the quilt to Maine. Everybody was so vibrant and fun. Yes, I knew that most of my new friends had AIDS and most had suffered personal losses, but I still was in a level of denial. But then the deaths and the funerals started. I probably went to a dozen funerals, three in one month. The worst was when it started claiming my closest friends. It was so unbearably painful - a whole generation of wonderful, vibrant, creative people, cut in their prime.

And really, I was on the periphery. I knew 12 or 15 who had died; each of them knew multiple dozens. I don't know how they bore it, I really don't. Only two or three of the people I knew then are still alive.

And for the entire time these fierce and fabulous people were dying in numbers too great to believe, fucking Ronald Reagan never said a goddamn word, unless it was some cruel and horrible joke. It's unfathomable from a pure public health standpoint alone that he could play so fast and loose with human life. I shed a bucket of tears for my friends and their friend and lovers but I had dry eyes for the Gipper and his later medical travails -- cry me a river, you phony Christian bastard. As someone noted, his humanity didn't even allow him to reach out to his friends in their time of need.

Kim Burch. Bob Keilt. Ed Wimert. I still miss you, my dear friends.

I later moved back to Massachusetts. I never got involved in AIDS work again. I donated money, I still do. But I did not have it in me to watch one more beautiful prime-of-life man die. I felt deeply guilty about that for years. You made me weep, ezust, when you said, "I'm ashamed to say that I only lasted 2 years." I kiss you, I honor you. Hearing you apologize like that, well, it just might be what I needed to hear to forgive myself.

I've been very angry through the Ebola reaction. The ignorance is deja vu. I loved the Maine nurse who stood up to Christie and LePage. Those health care workers and volunteers who put themselves in harm's way to help, heal and comfort the dying -- that's my idea of heroes - all the early AIDS workers and today's Ebola workers.

That thread and this one have been both painful and comforting for me. Thank you everyone who talked about this. I hug anyone who lived through that era, who suffered the losses, who survived it. I am so glad that you did.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:49 PM on February 16, 2015 [32 favorites]


I lived in San Francisco then, and still miss my best friend, gone 25 years now. It was an awful time, and if you think the Republicans didn't care--learn your history. I'll never forgive those bastards, and their loathsome St Ronald.
posted by Sassenach at 6:38 PM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wow. The past really is a foreign country.

Pretty much. As luck would have it, I just read And the Band Played On, after the nth recommendation on a Metafilter AIDS thread. It really did connect the dots on some of what I remember growing up. In the early nineties, I always thought that AIDS public spots were a bit on the nose. They'd use almost monosyllabic words to state that AIDS IS A VENEREAL DISEASE. YOU GET IT THROUGH SEX. YOU DO NOT GET IT BY SHARING MEALS. YOU DO NOT GET IT THROUGH KISSING. HAVE SAFE SEX OR DIE.

I just thought they had to dumb it down for ignorant people. Reading the book taught me that they were screaming in 20 pt font to get through a solid decade's worth of ignorance and misinformation about the disease. Also taught me how the actions of the Reagan administration could put the Republicans on the shit list of people for the last 3 decades. You might as well subtitle ATBPO how everyone screwed up and thousands upon thousands died.

Not that it was just Republicans, but the book explained some of the responses I've seen on Metafilter about their response to AIDS.
posted by zabuni at 6:39 PM on February 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


The ignorance is deja vu.

Ted Cruz, who probably will take a run for the GOP presidential nomination, even if a long shot, said the US could use another 100 Jesse Helms.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:27 PM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


"By then it was like, people used to think AIDS was a gay disease? That seems pretty bigoted. Obviously anybody can get AIDS. People sure are dumb."

Yes, this. I was also just too young to know what was going on during the 80s -- I was 3 when Rock Hudson died, 4 when Ryan White wasn't allowed to attend school, 9 when Magic Johnson announced he was HIV+, 12 when Pedro Zamora was on the Real World, and AIDS was, as far as I knew, always a thing. I remember watching the TV movie about Ryan White at the end of elementary school, couched in a health class unit where all we talked about was that you couldn't get AIDS from casual contact, that you should let a teacher or the nurse know if someone's bleeding on the playground, and you should never, ever play blood brothers. Middle school was when the ALWAYS WEAR A CONDOM OR YOU WILL CERTAINLY DIE messaging started in earnest for our age group.

The Reagan Administration's refusal to acknowledge the disease, GRID, the fact that it was such a plague in the gay community were never things that were even brought up, let alone taught. We didn't read And The Band Played On, we certainly weren't allowed to watch the movie. I lived in an upper-middle class religious suburban bubble where it generally wasn't an issue that touched your life practically in any way beyond seeing part of the quilt when it came through your town or whispers of someone having an uncle or a relative's friend who died of AIDS. Millennials, at least those of us on the leading edge, just hit things where we were too young to know, and then suddenly old enough that it seemed that the messaging had always been there.
posted by ThatSomething at 9:03 PM on February 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wow. The past really is a foreign country.

There were quite a few years when the obituaries in both national papers like the New York Times and the local paper were full, every week, of men dying from AIDS, usually with euphemisms like "long illness" or proximate causes like "pneumonia." (It was many years before I saw an obituary mention HIV.) It was horrifying and relentless but I can see how it is hard to communicate that to someone who didn't grow up with it.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:25 PM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


"AIDS is what homosexuals have. I have liver cancer"
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:35 PM on February 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think sometimes about all the books that weren't written, and the music, the dances, the mentorship, the paintings, the cultural connections unmade. One generation negated. but the ripples of unknown loss fan out over centuries. Did our Oscar Wilde die at 20?
posted by Scram at 12:25 AM on February 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Our culture is forever impoverished because of so many who died so young.

I always thought I'd write a book about this time, I'd call it, Leave a Message, based on a standard answering machine's outgoing message. So many young people didn't have a chance to leave their messages, they were only beginning to develop their talent when they got sick and died.

I often wonder how someone like me, just an ordinary person, nothing special, managed to live and contribute in my small way, when so many geniuses and talents and genuinely lovely people died.

I definitely have survivors guilt.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:09 AM on February 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Still here. Still working. Still angry.

So many dead I can't even start.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:57 AM on February 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Say what you will about the late Princess of Wales, in April of 1987 she was photographed at the bedside of an AIDS patient holding his hand, a gesture that helped to reassure public opinion throughout the UK. I've always appreciated that use of fame to do good.
posted by jokeefe at 7:10 AM on February 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


One of the things that comes up in The Eyes of Tammy Faye is that she interviewed Steve Pieters, a gay man living with AIDS on the PTL Club. In 1985.

Pieters is still alive, BTW.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:25 AM on February 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Still here. Still working. Still angry. So many dead I can't even start.

Yeah, exactly. Still here and still doing the fucking work and having a hard time with all the past tense conversation in this thread like the thing is over.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:55 AM on February 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Say what you will about the late Princess of Wales, in April of 1987 she was photographed at the bedside of an AIDS patient holding his hand, a gesture that helped to reassure public opinion throughout the UK.

Reportedly, that wasn't even supposed to be a photo op--she'd been doing that on the QT for some time.

Still here and still doing the fucking work and having a hard time with all the past tense conversation in this thread like the thing is over.

Seriously. That's kind of the problem with the younger kids now--they do think it's over. They bareback randomly, but they're neg because the other guy said he was, and maybe ever couple of years they'll actually go get tested. PREP is a fucking godsend, but costs about $800/month.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:22 AM on February 17, 2015


It may cost that much in Canada, but not in the U.S. - depending on insurance, it can be as low as $30 per month here.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:33 AM on February 17, 2015


I came out in the mid-80s and didn't really meet HIV positive people (other than one man who came to speak to a group I was in) until after moving to the Twin Cities after college. But then several people I met were HIV positive when I met them and were involved in activism, and many of them died (for instance, Keith Gann of Minnesota AIDS Project and Perry Tilleraas, author of The Color of Light: Daily Meditations For All Of Us Living With AIDS). And a few people I met after moving to San Francisco in 1992 ended up dying, such as my friend Steve Abbott, whose daughter Alysia Abbott wrote a memoir about him called Fairyland and has started a website with Whitney Joiner, The Recollectors: Remembering Parents Lost to AIDS.
posted by larrybob at 10:45 AM on February 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Not a lot of people in Canada have private insurance, compared to the USA, for obvious reasons. Many do with corporate-level benefits, and those account for basically everyone I know of who's on PREP. Health Canada is also sitting on their hands when it comes to approving Truvada for PREP, although some doctors will prescribe. I'm vaguely tempted (my prescriptions are covered), but I'm low risk within MSM anyway, and it's not like my sex life is that active dammit.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:50 AM on February 17, 2015


How has And the Band Played On aged? It's almost thirty years old now; has anyone published a sort of companion piece to it yet to cover the years since?

For a lot of kids growing up at the time, this was all filtered through what the grown-ups told us. And that was maybe some abstinence-only D.A.R.E. and sex ed lessons.

I was born in the Midwest in 1972, so like many others up-thread I only heard the "SEX=DEATH" message and saw the "SILENCE=DEATH" bumper stickers. I didn't even know anyone who died of AIDS for years, until I heard that a guy (who I still only ever knew as Mister Eric) had died, quite some time after he'd been a teacher's aid (or student teacher?) in my grade school in 1985-ish -- so call it the later 1990s? I should ask my friends from back then and find out for sure: this is a time where I was kind of oblivious to history, and it's worth learning what was going on around me.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:38 PM on February 17, 2015


One big problem with And The Band Played On is the demonization of Gaetan Dugas as Patient Zero. (Previously)
posted by larrybob at 1:58 PM on February 17, 2015


Don't get me started on the problems with And The Band Played On. I realize that there aren't a lot of other books in that space, but Randy Shilts was not exactly an objective narrator and a lot of stuff got misrepresented in there. Gaetan Dugas being an excellent example.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:08 PM on February 17, 2015


John Greyson took a run at this in Zero Patience. I personally don't think it's that great as art but YMMV. It did, however, attempt to skewer the patient zero hypothesis in song. So, that's worth something.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:21 PM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was a queer woman in the construction trades for much of the 1980's, apprenticing and then working with a gay man, and our clientele was heavily weighted towards the gay community, particularly the gay men's community. I helped with the wiring in the first hospice house for AIDS patients in Boston that the AIDS Action Committee set up. This is also how I ended up probably being one of the few women to set foot in the gay bathhouse on Franklin St in downtown Boston, although I think they got our name from the owners of the lesbian bar on the first and second floors rather than directly from the gay men's community. I was cleaning out some old boxes recently and found some 1980's Act Up/Queer Nation stickers.

I really don't miss that special intonation of the word "sick" when talking about people. Like, finding out someone had stopped working with a particular organization, and saying "Oh, is he ... sick?" I don't miss that at all.

I remember a t-shirt in the late 80's... "All I want is a cure and my friends back." I'm glad that treatments available have progressed as far as they have, but I can only think that if the federal government hadn't waited so long, that all might've come in time to save some people I was very close to.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:07 PM on February 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


This thread is making me miss people and it's horrible.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:26 PM on February 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


This thread is making me miss people and it's horrible.

It's still horrible, just usually slower. Someone important in my wife's life just died last month from factors related to complications from HIV drugs (especially the early ones, I think) as well as HIV itself. So it's great that he lived for a decade or two after his diagnosis, but he still died long before he should have.

Like others have said, I will never forgive the Republicans (and quite a few Democrats) of that era who ignored or blocked HIV and AIDS funding, research, and outreach. I hope they burn in hell, given their stated religious reasons.

Appropriately, this has been a very US-focused discussion, but it is not a US-centered epidemic. I still worry and grieve for people I worked with overseas whom I am sure have died from this but without a diagnosis, much less access to modern medications -- this is not a solved epidemic at all.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:46 PM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really don't miss that special intonation of the word "sick" when talking about people. Like, finding out someone had stopped working with a particular organization, and saying "Oh, is he ... sick?" I don't miss that at all.

For guys over 30ish, that intonation is still there in some conversations. Not as much as it used to be of course, but it's still there.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:37 AM on February 18, 2015


After this thread, I went back to watch some documentaries on the topic and found this one hour of news clips from 1982 - 1992 HIV/AIDS, reportage from the first 10 years. It's a fascinating if depressing time capsule.

Of the many remarkable things, these stood out for me : how dramatically society's attitudes about gays has changed, but in contrast how consistently terrible republicans were/are. (Talk of camps, mandatory testing, punishments -- you know, the typical "small government" party line.) Ronald Reagan was even more callous and more irresponsible than I remembered.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:43 PM on February 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


« Older The Secret Language of Tennis Champions   |   somewhere between Las Vegas and Pyongyang Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments