Historical Context: Print -- Video -- Online
A Nation in Distress
 Throughout American history there have been thousands of diseases and breakouts that have affected not only the U.S. but also the world in general. The Ebola Virus struck Africa with a force of such strength that millions of people were wiped out, generations and generations completely destroyed. Americans looked on in awe but failed to take into consideration that such a deadly disease could ever invade the “land of the free.”
 Americans typically lead an isolated and ignorant lifestyle, focusing on their own lives and disregarding all that is going on beyond our naturally restricted boundaries. When the AIDS virus hit the U.S., people, doctors, bureaucrats, and politicians were at a loss in terms of identifying the deadly disease. Few facts were known: people who had such a disease had a very low t-cell count, meaning that their immune system was failing if it had not already, and the majority of people infected with the disease were gay men. Beyond those two very broad facts, there were gaps a mile wide leaving too much to be overlooked.
 Randy Shilts, an investigative reporter working for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote one of the first chronicles of the AIDS epidemic in 1987. Reporting and documenting since 1982, Shilts’ account entitled And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic is a written journal of all of his personal investigations and reporting he did since the outbreak of the originally unknown disease in the early 80’s. Finally six years later Roger Spottiswoode, a director for HBO Productions, dared to take on the project and turned what was a taboo topic into a nationally acclaimed docudrama with a cast filled with more than half of Hollywood. The film And the Band Played On hit audiences across America and for the first time attempted to accomplish the impossible, change the national stereotype that AIDS is a gay man’s disease. In addition, the film harps on the effect red tape had on the lengthy process in finding a cure.
 Before AIDS was even given a name a group of homosexual men were found in 1981 with the same cluster of symptoms, including loss of t-cells which is what coats the human immune system and protects the body against disease and infection. Homosexual men around the country were not only surfacing with the disease, but they were dying at an unusually rapid rate, a rate so fast that doctors were having difficulty in isolating the virus. Eventually in the late 80’s the Pasteur Institute in Paris was able to finally isolate the virus, enabling scientists to finally further test the virus to try and locate a specific reason how and why the disease exists in the first place.
 Due to the initial impact the AIDS virus had on the gay population across America, support and activist groups popped up nationally, marching and speaking out to the community asking for support and help. They received practically nothing. Homosexuality struck a personal chord with many people, bringing religious and moral ethics; the issue was preferably left untouched by the public. The politicians refused to touch the issue as well. With the politicians refusing to even discuss the newly discovered outbreak causing a death rate of 100% for whomever contracted it, medical care was practically impossible to receive. With the gay community calling the disease “Gay Cancer” or “Gay Pneumonia” and the straight press calling it nothing, the stereotypes grew heavier and more insulting to the gay people. For lack of a better name the press uniformly began calling the disease “GRID,” an acronym for Gay Related Immunodeficiency, which only supported the stereotypes rather than refuting them. In 1983 a motion was passed officially changing the name from GRID to AIDS, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Doctors fought the bureaucrats, the bureaucrats fought the politicians, and the infected people were left to fight the disease on their own with no support and no hope to find answers.
 The gay press tried as much as possible to stay on top of the issue, trying to give the community a voice. Randy Shilts was one of the most well-known and well-respected reporters during the early days of GRID. His investigative report And The Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic was the first of its nature to expose every aspect of the crisis. The politicians were revealed for cutting corners and the blatant lying they did to the American public. Dr. Robert Gallo, head of the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, was condemned and vilified for his pompous nature and desire for personal success and international acclaim. Small and otherwise unrecognized doctors such as Dr. Don Francis, working for the Center for Disease Control, were held up high on a pedestal, praised for their dedication and continual fight to do the right thing. Politicians were made to look foolish, as they were unwilling to even associate the word “homosexual” into any bill they planned on passing. Blood Bank bureaucrats were portrayed in a dark and damning light as they refused to begin blood testing due to money issues. And the patients were seen as fighters but unfortunately not as survivors. Shilts’ report was unmerciful, which it needed to be in order to illustrate the AIDS epidemic in the light that its victims were seeing it in.
 When Roger Spottiswoode took on the project for HBO Productions, the nation was still in a state of shock in terms of the AIDS epidemic. It was an issue that was beginning to hit very close to home for many people, although admitting it was a disease without a sexual preference was still not a uniformly accepted fact. The book had been in print for over six years before a production company would even consider touching it in its entirety. The issue was still too ripe and controversial for big motion picture studios like Paramount or Universal to take on such a project. It took a well-respected cable company to get Shilts’ report out to the general public.
 Even then, there was the challenge of finding a cast who was willing to act in this emotional drama. Richard Gere decided to sign on for a miniscule, no-recognition part of a choreographer. It was then that the rest of Hollywood came knocking down HBO’s doors ,and they did so in vast numbers. Names like Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Sir Ian McKellen, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, Phil Collins, Swoozie Kurtz, and Anjelica Huston all signed on for the small-budget, TV movie. Changing scenes in an unusually rapid sequence, the movie reports on the history, the emergence, the struggle and the final fight that the AIDS virus presented when it was discovered among American patients in 1981.
 Today the AIDS epidemic, although not obsolete, has become less of a death sentence then a life hindrance. It has been discovered that the AIDS virus has a predecessor now termed the HIV virus or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. With HIV as a precursor to the AIDS virus, it is now possible to live ten years before you even suffer full-blown AIDS. While the patients in the movie were depicted in a frail and pathetic manner, the videos that educate the public on the issue today illustrate the AIDS patients completely differently.
 It is fact now, not debatable speculation, that AIDS is a blood-born disease contracted through body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, and other body fluids containing blood. It is a virus that is no longer isolated among the gay male population nor the intravenous drug users. It is a virus that spreads when little to no caution or abstinence is taken into consideration. Today heterosexual females tend to be at highest risk, a great jump from previous stereotypes of the AIDS virus. Today’s patients are people that on the outside look healthy and feel relatively healthy, yet it is their insides that are gradually diminishing. Shilts and Spottiswoode, in a combined effort to document an epidemic of international status, successfully took on a controversial topic and heightened the public awareness of AIDS, its past, present and future.
“AIDS: Another Sad Year For the Sick, A Frightening Future for the Country.” Life Jan 1988: 42.
Struggling with a disease that was killing by the thousands and having little to no success in finding a vaccine, the medical field was grappling with any and every idea it had on hand. This article documenting a year in AIDS mentions the FDA approval of the new revolutionary drug known as AZT, as well as speaking about the President’s announcement of a new AIDS commission and how much criticism it immediately received for its “lack of expertise.” The article brings up news of the march on Washington in October. The march amounted to over 200,000 people, gathering to protest for gay rights as well as view the AIDS Names PROJECT quilt, assembled directly in front of the White House.
“AIDS Researcher Cleared of Charges.” Science News 4 Dec 1993 (v144 n23): 383.
The Pasteur Institute of Health in Paris brought charges against Dr. Robert Gallo and his associate, Dr. Mikulas Popovic, for their unethical behavior when announcing the discovery of the AIDS virus. While tensions were high among the medical profession to isolate the deadly disease, Gallo was one of the leading doctors in contact with the French to try to combine efforts. When the cause of AIDS was discovered, the French and Dr. Gallo worked together in agreeing to share the credit; Gallo dishonored that promise and instead took all the international acclaim. The French took him to court later on and in December of 1993 all charges were dropped against Gallo and the case was dismissed. Brought in front of the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Research Integrity (ORI), Gallo faced charges of scientific misconduct as did Popovic. Popovic was brought in front of the ORI first and was released. When it came to be Gallo’s turn, his charges were dropped as well due to “more stringent standard of proof to scientific misconduct cases.” Already extremely difficult to prove intent to deceive cases, this one in particular was already of such international standards that the rules and decisions were made that were much stricter.
Barnes, Deborah M. “Gallo Meeting A Mecca for AIDS Researchers.” Science 9 Sept 1988 (v24 n.4871): 1287.
Dr. Robert Gallo, one of the leading doctors in the AIDS fight, has been bringing together the top doctors around the world on an annual basis to discuss the most recent findings in AIDS research as well as to provide for the doctors an informal think tank environment. With the top doctors all congregating in one meeting spot once a year, one would assume that competition and egos would hinder the discussion and procedure of the meeting. In fact, as these doctors are more than used to commonly meeting at formal international conferences regarding AIDS, Gallo’s congregation of the minds is informal, well respected, and widely enjoyed. “This meeting is alive; it pulses” -- “It is the best meeting of the year” are two comments made by visiting doctors. With AIDS remaining to continually stump the medical world and with the political and bureaucratic sectors offering little to money and support, the doctors are left with their creativity to struggle to gain as much knowledge as possible. Offering any and all ideas, doctors like French Anderson suggesting that the same gene transfer procedure used for cancer treatment might one day be used for AIDS infected patient is what this type of conference is about. Admitting that while most controversy, especially when it is with regards to the cutthroat manner of the medical arena or the arrogance of the field, finds Gallo at the foreground, the AIDS virus is always at the top of the priority list. Asked why Gallo’s meeting is a mecca for the AIDS topic, a doctor answered: “[B]ecause most of the best people in the field are there and they are presenting the newest research—much of it unpublished. But most important are the discussions.”
Crewdson, John. “In Gallo Case, Truth Termed A Casualty: Science Subverted in AIDS Dispute.” Chicago Tribune 1 Jan 1995.
This article is doing more follow-up on the ongoing trial at hand dealing with Dr. Robert Gallo and Dr. Luc Montagnier and whether or not Gallo was ethical in his claiming the responsibility for the discovery of the AIDS virus. This article specifically deals with the discovery by Gerald Myers, a scientist, confirming the charges that the sample that Gallo used was identical to that of the French; in other words, the samples had come from the same patient. This discovery is not only debilitating to the credibility of Dr. Gallo as a doctor, but it is also damaging to his ego as a self-righteous man. Crewdson, one of the most notable and widely read reporters on the AIDS subject, has been directly related to Gallo as his personal target for shooting accusations. The relationship between Gallo and Crewdson is no doubt strained in that Crewdson was one of the first reporters to break the story about the fraudulent charges that the French were bringing against Gallo. While this article specifically focuses on the uncovering of information by Meyers, it is still hard to ignore the fact that Crewdson has been accused of having a personal vendetta against Dr. Gallo. While this is not to suggest that the information written by Crewdson is untrue or that Dr. Gallo is the victim of unfair publicity, it is still important to make note of the personal conflict between the two men.
Dawson, Jeff. Gay and Lesbian Online. Los Angeles/New York: Alyson Books, 1998.
This publication is possibly one of the most thorough and organized of the Lesbian and Gay print material. Dawson is precise in the information he provides, offering information beyond what he includes in the book. Giving background information of events and symbols within the gay community, Dawson gives brief synopses of web sites covering the history of the movement and its symbols such as the Rainbow Flag and the Pink Triangle. He offers site information about AIDS, the medical and more personal touch as well. Often times the internet can be overwhelming in its voluminous information accessibility and can confuse and frustrate surfers; even if a veteran with the web, it can still easily annoy its users. Dawson, familiar with this frustration and appreciative of the vast array of information available especially regarding AIDS and the gay and lesbian movements, helps narrow searches as well as guiding people to pertinent sites. It would be more useful if more people started to do what Dawson has done here. This book is a must for research and could be considered to be one’s Bible if doing a research paper of some sort on AIDS, the gay and lesbian community,or other related topics. If Dawson doesn’t have the web site listed or give you information of where to find it, then the bottom line is that it doesn’t exist. Just to give you an understanding of exactly how incredibly thorough this important book is!
Edwards, Diane D. “Politics, Science, People…and AIDS: Third International Conference on AIDS.” Science News 6 June 1987 (v131): 356.
This article focuses on the controversial comments and positions being taken by the politicians, most notably President Reagan and Vice President Bush. Claiming that “ultimately we must protect the healthy,” Bush gave justification to the administration's actions of testing immigrants, prisoners, and aliens seeking residency in the United States. Treating victims as outcasts and ultimately making innocent people feel like criminals, this policy didn’t seem to sit well with the AIDS activists. Regardless of how the activists felt, however, the important thing is the damage that this kind of publicity and treatment of the issue had on the nation’s public opinion and state of mind regarding the disease. Such negative publicity is what creates and further supports misunderstood facts and unfair treatment of those suffering from the deadly disease.
Goudsmit, Jaap. “Alternative View On AIDS.” The Lancet 23 May 1992 (v339 n8804): 1289.
An investigative report on the International Symposium “AIDS, a different view,” which was organized by the Foundation for Alternative AIDS Research, this article reports on the information discussed at the conference. The debate between the belief that HIV and AIDS are not related, offered by Dr. Peter Duesberg, and the conflicting view that indeed the two are not only related but HIV directly is the cause of AIDS, presented by Dr. Luc Montagnier, was at the forefront of the symposium. Duesberg argued that AIDS does not have the characteristics of a typical infectious disease. Duesberg’s findings were that HIV cannot possibly be the cause of the AIDS disease due to the failure of the disease to pass randomly between the sexes. AIDS continues to be a disease infecting the homosexual population and the drug users at a higher rate than any other definitive group; if the disease were infecting people randomly, then the likelihood of HIV and AIDS being related would be more plausible, argues Duesberg. Without much supporting evidence to back up Duesberg’s thesis, his comments and observations, while listened to with respect, were mainly shot down with hard facts and concrete discoveries.
Hilts, Philip J. “Federal Inquiry Finds Misconduct by a Discoverer of the AIDS Virus.” New York Times 31 Dec 1992 .
The Federal Office of Research Integrity finally reached a decision involving the Gallo/Montagnier case, releasing a statement charging Dr. Gallo of having “falsely reported” in the paper that he submitted claiming all of the credit in discovering the AIDS virus. The report included evidence that Gallo did indeed intentionally mislead his colleagues when he agreed to share the credit and published acknowledgment of having isolated and identifying the disease. The article covers not only the recent decision but also Dr. Gallo’s response to the decision, as well as the history behind the case and the international significance it had on the world of medicine -- AIDS being the primary epidemic travelling around the world. Gallo promised he would appeal the decision, maintaining his innocence and continuing to defend certain actions that were specifically brought into question. Due to the international impact that this case was having on the world, the presidents of the United States and France both tried to get involved and settle the dispute in 1987, agreeing to split the patent royalties of the AIDS work. Although the agreement was reached, conflict still persisted, and finally Federal investigations began in 1989, spurred by an article that John Crewdson wrote in the Chicago Tribune. This article illustrates the role money and personal credit played in a disease that was killing thousands on a daily basis.
Limbaugh III, Rush H. The Way Things Ought to Be. New York: Pocket Books.
Stigmatized as the inconsiderate, conservative political talk show host, Rush Limbaugh has been stunning audiences nationwide with his audacious comments and uninhibited opinions. The chapter in this book about the AIDS epidemic takes a typical insensitive approach here. Using Michael and Elizabeth Glaser as examples of the lack of feeling for justice that the disease has, he still manages to condemn them, especially Elizabeth, for their poor choices in publicity involvement. Elizabeth Glaser unknowingly received AIDS when getting a blood transfusion and through breast feeding later passed it to her two children. As one of the first AIDS activist for pediatric victims, Glaser fought for funding and research towards AIDS. In this article, Limbaugh rejects vehemently the unfair charges against the Reagan/Bush administration for their lack of caring and admitted responsibility towards this issue. Critiquing the political ambivalence when this disease first emerged, this article offers the “other” voice to the film And the Band Played On in its message of awareness, portraying the conservative and more straight-edged political tone. Limbaugh does not fail to madden and enrage readers in this article, a trait of his that he is in no rush to alter.
Liversidge, Anthony. “Interview Robert Gallo.” Spin February 1988.
This article is an in-depth interview with Dr. Robert Gallo in a time when the AIDS epidemic was continuing to wreak havoc among the medical, political, and social worlds. There was constant debate about the cause of the AIDS virus, where it came from, what kind of treatment it required, how to prevent it, and who was in danger of becoming infected with it. Doctors, able to isolate the virus, were later able to locate and identify a precursor to the virus, known as the HTLV-III retrovirus (also known as the HIV virus). There arose a long debate about whether or not HIV did indeed cause AIDS; some doctors argued that the two were not related. This interview is focused on this debate, with Gallo at the forefront of the belief that there is no question of the two being directly related. It is mentioned that Time called Gallo “brash, competitive, and vain.” Meanwhile Gallo, whenever asked about the debate, answers simply and harshly: “This virus (HIV) caused AIDS. There is no debate.” Also mentioned regarding Gallo’s character is the tension between him and a fellow colleague, Dr. Peter Duesberg, who started questioning the relationship between HIV and AIDS. When Duesberg was asked about his relationship with Gallo, he answered: “He used to think highly of me, until I criticized his science. You would think I was insulting his mother or something, the way he reacted. I must say, of all scientists I’ve known, Gallo’s reactions are the most unscientific.”
Marwick, Charles. “US Government Inquiry Bodies Dismiss Scientific Misconduct Charges Against AIDS Researchers.” JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association 8 Dec 1993 (v270 n22): 2665.
A case that has taken over 10 years to come to a conclusion finally comes to an end in 1993. This article released the information dismissing Dr. Robert Gallo from any medical misconduct charges brought against him. The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) dropped its charges against Gallo on the grounds that the case would simply have been too difficult to actually win in court. While Congress and the French government are considering opening up their own investigations, ORI stands by its decision to officially close the case. Not wanting to delay the research of AIDS and the HIV retrovirus any longer than it already has been, ORI decided to simply end all investigations and move on with the research and strive at a faster rate then before towards finding a cure. The article then continues on to list, in detail, the exact charges brought against Dr. Gallo. Dr. Gallo’s case is also associated and compared to the other longest scientific misconduct case, involving Dr. Mikulas Popovic, another doctor involved with Gallo on AIDS research. The ORI is “not required to prove that there is no possibility of honest error; it is only required to prove that the preponderance of the evidence supports a finding of no honest error.” Apparently the ORI was not convinced that these guidelines could be met in Dr. Gallo’s case.
Nadel, Alan. Flatlining on the Field of Dreams: Cultural Narratives in the Films of President Reagan’s America. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1997.
Another vocal representative for AIDS awareness and the lack of political action taken throughout the 80’s and into the 90’s, this article focuses mostly on the Reagan administration. When talking of the Reagan administration the issue of AIDS cannot be ignored, not the way that Reagan did when the nation was neck high in an outbreak of such high caliber that it was being compared by medical experts to the Ebola Virus. In a brief two-page mention of the epidemic and how the political arena handled it, this essay adds another needed voice to the truth behind the Reagan administration’s failure to show any sort of interest or effort towards AIDS. In this brief explanation of Reagan’s policy (or lack there of) dealing with AIDS, the film And the Band Played On is given specific mention. The movie is used to support the view that there was little to no support politically and the bureaucracy did everything within its power to make AIDS funding an even bigger problem. The country was in the middle of a medical crisis and it got spooked. Too afraid to be honest with its citizens the political, bureaucratic, and even medical fields did whatever was necessary to hide the power lurking within the virus.
“Pioneer in AIDS Criticized.” Washington Times 17 Sept 1991: A3.
Published as simply an update and synopsis, this article mentions the charges brought against Dr. Robert Gallo by the French. During one of the many preliminary interviews, a board decided that Gallo would receive “significant censure,” for the fraud he committed in his laboratory. Gallo was accused by the French for stealing samples that had isolated the AIDS virus and then taking all the credit and recognition. Taking Gallo to court, at this point in time, the only decision that had been issued was this preliminary charge. The French claimed that Gallo “ ‘created and fostered’ an environment that permitted the fraud.” A final decision at this point had not yet been released.
Shilts, Randy. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987.
At the center of this project, this is the novel that started it all. Randy Shilts, a gay man living and reporting in San Francisco, began to pay close attention to what was later to be identified as the AIDS virus when many of his friends began falling ill. Carefully keeping close track of names and dates and following the emergence and life of the epidemic closely, he eventually in 1987 published his written documentary. Gaining his information through the Freedom of Information Act, Shilts presents a side of the story that was not only untold but was intentionally hidden from the citizens, the patients, and their families, and friends. Even involved doctors were held at bay by the government and its other agents. He focuses on the little people, recognizing the more obscure doctors, activists, few politicians, and private organizations that worked hard, day and night, for years on end to make sense out of a senseless disease. This is the story of the heroes, villains, back-stabbers, and red-tape gophers. From this dynamic and unique personal account of the AIDS epidemic, stemmed one of film industry’s still most remarkable and touching story of the emergence of a deadly disease that took a nation, a world by storm.
“The True Virus.” The Economist 8 June 1991 (v319 n7710): 83.
Another article deeply focused on the dispute between Dr. Gallo and Dr. Montagnier is careful in presenting both sides to the story. Giving background information, how Dr. Gallo announced in 1984 that he had without a doubt solely discovered the cause of the AIDS virus, this article traces the start of the debate and continued heated conflict between the two doctors. Unlike other articles, however, this one offers reasons why such a mix-up and confusion in rightfully earned credit could have occurred. Although it was discovered that Gallo used the same sample the French had sent him to take the credit for identifying the virus, the virus is of such a variable nature such a mix-up could have easily happened because of either poor laboratory technique or accidental contamination. Using John Crewdson’s report in the Chicago Tribune as an example of indisputable discovery that Gallo was unethical in his findings, such a theory admittedly does not have much hope in standing up in court. Explaining the realization of the French that indeed Gallo was unfairly claiming full responsibility for the discovery of the virus, the article illustrates the careful investigation the French conducted before wrongfully charging Gallo.
Wallis, Claudia. “Battling AIDS; More Misery, Less Mystery.” Time 29 April 1985: 68.
One of the first articles in a mainstream magazine involving reported information of the AIDS virus, it seems almost pathetic looking back on this article, knowing all that we do about the virus, and realizing how naive and puzzled everyone was about the AIDS virus. Trying to appease the American public, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Margaret Heckler, came out and stated: “Never before in the history of medicine has so much been learned about an entirely new disease in so short a time.” And yet over one million people had become victims of the disease by 1985. While at first struggling to find who was especially at risk, Haitians were thought to be a high risk population, but later, as this article explains, they were said to no longer be at risk. Still under the wide belief that AIDS was a homosexual disease, the stigmas behind how the disease was transmitted was at its worst. People thought that contact with an AIDS patient for an extended period of time would eventually lead to their own infection. Although this article points out that casual contact with AIDS patients was considered to be safe, such a belief had already been planted in the minds of the public, creating more damage than good. The severity of the disease and the feeling of helplessness in the medical field is noted and talked about, yet the article is very careful about the language used in that the writer does not want to lead anyone to any unruly conclusions. This article is a valid illustration of the state of mind that the press was exerting and the public was consuming at this time.
Werth, Barry. “By AIDS Obsessed.” GQ Aug 1991.
GQ dissects the on-going fight between Gallo and the Pasteaur Institute regarding who rightfully deserved to receive credit for the discovery of the AIDS virus. Gallo, fighting the battle to the very end, is relentless in his struggle and unwilling to admit any fraudulent activity. Giving specific personal information as well as delving into his personal character, GQ is thorough in this articulate article. Even more specific is GQ’s concentration between the struggle between Dr. Gallo having to deal with the damaging article that John Crewdson, investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune, published. This article unleashed the accusations about the possible unethical activity on Gallo’s part regarding the discovery of the AIDS virus. Crewdson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, is recognized for his personal relentless nature and commended as one of the leading reporters covering the AIDS epidemic. His charges were not only highly respected, but they were taken seriously and dealt with as quickly as possible. The relationship between the men, both at the peak of their careers and each possessing ego larger than most, conflict arose and both refused to back down. This article is meticulous in it research and is an excellent character sketch of both men and the struggle that these two underwent.
Some articles on the AIDS quilt:
Hawkins, Peter S. "Naming Names: Art of Memory and the NAMES Project AIDS Quilt." Critical Inquiry 19 (1993): 752-779.
Howe, Lawrence. "A Text of the Times: The NAMES Project." Uncoverings 1991 (1992): 11-31.
Langellier, Kristin M. "Contemporary Quiltmaking in Maine: Re- Fashioning Femininity." Uncoverings 1990 (1991): 29-55.
Pershing, Linda. "'She Really Wanted To Be Her Own Woman': Scandalous Sunbonnet Sue." Feminist Messages: Coding in Women's Folk Culture. Ed. Joan N. Radner. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1993. 98-125.
Sturken, Marita. "Conversations With the Dead: Bearing Witness in the AIDS Quilt." Socialist Review 92 (1993): 67-95.
Trechsel, Gail A. "Mourning Quilts in America." Uncoverings 1989 (1990): 139-158.
Williams, Mary Rose. "A Reconceptualization of Protest Rhetoric: Women's Quilts as Rhetorical Forms." Women's Studies in Communication 17.2 (1994): 20-44.
Absolutely Positive. Dir. Peter Adair. KQED Productions, San Francisco, 1991.
This is collection of personal accounts of individual people living with the AIDS virus. Peter Adair, tends to make movies dealing directly with his life, whether it is the issue of war, his homosexuality, or in this case discovering that he is infected with the HIV virus. Being HIV-positive immediately changed his life, and struggling with the reality of the disease he decided to search for others who were feeling the same feelings and would be willing to share their stories with him. Being willing to share their stories in front of the camera was the biggest feat, and 11 men and women, straight and gay, chose to do and did so with strength, poise, and honesty. As one man put it, “It’s my right to be less than perfect. It’s my right to be HIV- positive.” Adair, after having interviewed over 120 individuals, chose to narrow his focus to 11 individuals coping with the reality of being infected -- investigating their feelings, thoughts, and how learning they have the virus has changed their lives. The focus of this documentary is that people can live with AIDS and not necessarily look debilitated and decrepit. A striking movie with a true open approach, the viewers are allowed into these 11 people’s personal lives, thoughts and feelings -- a rare and valuable experience.
Living Proof: HIV and the Pursuit of Happiness. Dir. Kermit Cole. Cinemax, 1993.
A flyer was put up around New York City asking anyone infected with the HIV virus and willing to change the face of AIDS to come and do a photo shoot in a certain gallery. What started as a photo shoot turned into a documentary on Cinemax and was a successful and emotional one at that. Dealing directly with the misconception that the media has portrayed AIDS patients as pale, white males, lying helpless and covered with lesions in a hospital bed, this video fights against such stereotypes. The women, men, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who were all depicted in this video all had a face and had a story. A story that was close to their personal being, an experience that in a single moment changed their lives forever. Determined not to die of the disease, adamant about not letting the disease take control over them, these people have been active in staking a personal and well-deserved claim in their own lives. While the media is constantly promising that AIDS has not yet touched the “general population,” such a concern should be disregarded. It is not only absurd and ludicrous, it discriminates against those who do have the disease, who by no means asked to be stricken with it. The point of this documentary is to portray those who are concentrated on living positively, facing the reality of the seriousness of their disease but also how they can help others who will eventually be diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. This is a phenomenal and poignant documentary, about real people living with a real disease.
Video Against AIDS. Vol 1-3. Curated by John Greyson and Bill Horrigan. The Video Data Bank with V Tape/Canada, 1988.
A collection of documentaries on the AIDS epidemic, taking social, political, and individual interpretive approaches, these three videos offer an alternative view of the counter-culture involving AIDS victims at this time. The first video split into PWA Power, Discrimination, and AIDS and Women divisions, is an in-depth investigation of the impact the AIDS virus has had on minorities. This division also concentrates on the fact that by simply having the disease, one is automatically considered to be a minority and treated as such. The second video is subdivided into Resistance, Mourning, and Community Education, taking an approach geared towards coping with the disease and then reclaiming control and becoming an activist. The AIDS epidemic has not only claimed the lives of those who have died from the disease but the lives of friends and relatives of those who have died have also been forever altered. Unable to view the disease and every aspect involving the epidemic in the same light, this video is dedicated to personal affiliation and eventual understanding with the disease. The third and final video is broken down into Loss, Analysis, and Activism, another approach to helping those involved with the disease in any shape or form deal with it correctly, if there is even such a thing. This collection of informative and educational videos is an ideal teaching tool for students just being introduced to AIDS awareness.
Voices From the Front. Dir. Robyn Hutt, David Meieran and Sandra Elgear. Cinemax/Vanguard Cinema, 1991.
This video opens with gay activist Max Nevar saying: “I am not an AIDS victim. I am not an AIDS sufferer. I am not an AIDS case. I am not an AIDS patient. I am a person living with AIDS.” This moving beginning is indicative of the moving video that is to continue. Focusing on certain vocal spirits, this video guides its viewers through the switch that occurred when people finally began taking an active roll in their illness rather than a passive one. Instead of accepting being HIV-positive as an immediate death sentence people began to see it as a challenge, and many took that challenge straight on without shying away. National polls in December ’85 stated public opinion to be that 50% of Americans wanted AIDS patients to be quarantined, 48% thought they should carry special identification, while 15% thought those who were ill should be tattooed. With statistics reading such negative beliefs and opinions, the odds that gay and straight men and women were faced with were not in their favor at all. Refusing to give up, activists fought the stigma that as long as AIDS patients were dying in a hospital bed, they were accepted, but the minute that they chose to live and fight the disease, they were immediately subjected to ridicule and discrimination. This remarkable video is a personal touch to a personal disease and an excellent educational tool for all audiences.
Brink, Anthony. “The Pope of AIDS.” Jan 1999
Unlike any other article, Brink takes a somewhat violent and heated approach to the issue of AIDS and the stuffy doctors involved in fighting this disease. Although published in 1999, this article has the opinionated passion that can be compared to articles published in the early 80’s during the brink of this epidemic. He focuses on the influence and pompous involvement of Dr. Robert Gallo during the outbreak of the AIDS virus. Brink condemns Gallo for too quickly announcing that he and he alone had discovered the AIDS virus that was mysteriously wiping out the gay community in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. Quite clearly not a fan of Gallo, this article gives the run- down of the court case involving Gallo and Dr. Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute in France. Montagnier insists that Gallo blatantly stole the credit and the recognition that rightly belonged to Montagnier and his staff of doctors for discovering the AIDS virus. While there are some articles that are less one-sided, this is an article that gives justice to the point of view taken in the movie And the Band Played On. The movie does not hide behind the facts and is obvious in its evil depiction of Dr. Gallo; this article supports the movie’s approach and opinion.
For annotations on the following sites, see Dawson above:
The sites listed below include an array of web locations that offer support, group counseling, and general information regarding the AIDS virus, and those living with it in one way or another. These sites vary from basic information sites about AIDS and HIV, to information providing updates on the most recent treatment being offered, to sites offering support. While this list is only a start, the following sites are still helpful in the beginning stages of research.
The following sites are just a tip of the iceberg in the vast collection of web sites about the history behind AIDS, homosexuality, and the people involved in both. These sites include one giving a list and history behind important homosexual males and females during the gay revolution, as well as one detailing gays in the movies and the different roles they have been given. While Dawson provides a more detailed description of each site, this is a list to get you started. The web is filled with pertinent sites that will be useful and educational.
Copyright (c) 1999 by Victoria Douglass Hatch, Undergraduate at Lehigh University.
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