"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.An earlier thread on the same subject is also worth browsing, especially on the politics that shaped the epidemic in the US:
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.
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. "
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