Archive for June, 2012
I just saw the most heart wrenching documentary on the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco from the beginnings through to today, told by people who survived the times. It was so well put together and told the story of the discovery of the virus and the unknown entity it was through to discovering how it spread and what could be done about it.
I have always known a lot about it as I have had a partner who had HIV and was involved within the community during the tail end of the epidemic. Although it still continues today, it does not seem to be in the mainstream media as it once was. When I was growing up I remember seeing the AIDS ads on tv, with the grim reaper and needles on beds. There was a lot of fear back in the 80’s when this was all coming to a head and no one really know how it was happening. There were many theories and not a lot of evidence. Gay men were targeted in homophobic rallies and the community was under fire from governments and religious groups. We may seem like we have progressed from there to a state of more acceptance and in many ways we have. Things are certainly not as bad as they use to be but there is certainly a long way to go.
Looking at these men and women talk about their experiences during these times made me feel a sense of pride for my community. To come together and support one another as they did, despite the persecution that was occurring at the time, took courage and guts. To fight to get help and to stay alive, while so many of your friends and loved ones dropped like flies around you would have been like ripping your heart out a thousand time over. I have only lost one friend to AIDS, and although I am no longer with the partner who is HIV+, he is thankfully still alive.
A few years ago, Alex and I went to Thailand and paid tribute to the men who had died in the war at a war memorial. We walked around that memorial with his mother and read the plaques. They were so young and fought to save our lives. An overwhelming feeling of sorrow lead to me having to spend a moment away from everyone else. Remembering my friends who have been effected by HIV and AIDS brought back these same sentiments and I agree with those interviewed that this has been a war. Thousands of men have died to save the lives of others. They donated their bodies to science in the hope that they would be able to save others and I for one salute their bravery.
We Were Here was the documentary and it was on ABC2. If you get the chance, you should see it. You should show it to friends and family and you should share it with everyone so that there is more understanding of how a community has been affected by such a ravaging epidemic. It puts a human face to any homophobic thought and comment that may have been thought and will change your perception. Amazing.