Here To Inspire

30 Voices From the Past 30 Years



 Whether it’s the eight cases of Karposi’s sarcoma noted among gay men in New York City in March 1981 or the five cases of Pneumocystis pneumonia among gay men in Los Angeles in June that same year, it’s been three decades since AIDS began ravaging our readers’ lives, decimating this magazine’s staff, and teaching all of us to live more carefully, love more fervently, and lead by example. These 30 quotes—all taken from Advocate archives—are just a small sampling of the fear, fight, and feats that got us to where we are today.

“We are seeing the beginning of a major epidemic of cancer. The disease happens to be occurring in the gay community, but what is really relevant is whatever conditions are causing Kaposi’s [sarcoma]. We are very concerned to head off a panic.”
Alvin Friedman-Kien, MD, of the New York University Medical Center. August 20, 1981

“So far, no one knows with certainty what causes the fatal ‘new’ diseases. Heterosexuals, one person in a monogamous relationship and not the other, even infants have succumbed. Yet many cases are centered in the gay men’s community, especially in New York City. Most of us who know a lot of gay men also know one or more who have died. Living with this situation feels a bit like it must have felt to be alive when the plague was decimating the population of Europe.”
David Goodstein, president of Liberation Publications, publisher of The Advocate, in a letter to readers. January 20, 1983

“Two and a half years ago, my friends wondered why I was doing this.”
Lynn Paleo, who worked with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, in a feature about lesbians’ involvement in AIDS activism. October 14, 1986

“My volunteer life at this point is limited exclusively to health education against contracting AIDS. We’ve been deluged with threats and the worst possible hype—media hype—about the dangers of AIDS. Yet there have been very few sound voices coming through saying, ‘Yes, times are tough and they may get worse, but we can do something about it.’ That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Actress Zelda Rubinstein on her involvement in an early AIDS awareness ad campaign. June 10, 1986

“When confronted with our own mortality, it has become common in our community to have our bodies cremated and our ashes thrown to the four winds. But with the wind goes an important part of our history. And also an important part of our future. I ask you to consider the ramifications of this action on tomorrow’s generation of lesbians and gays as they search for self-esteem. As a person with AIDS, I have thought about this a great deal. I believe that we must be the same activists in our deaths that we were in our lives. I urge those of you who are facing death to find a method of leaving a lasting record of our accomplishments—including the acknowledgmet that you were lesbian or gay.”
Activist and former Air Force sergeant Leonard Matlovich. June 23, 1987