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As three decades of AIDS were marked in 2011, it was startling to see the degree to which Americans’ notoriously short memories had already begun to airbrush away the experience of their gay countrymen’s devastation and defiance in the plague years. Accustomed by now to thinking of the “face” of AIDS as that of an impoverished, dark-skinned African woman or baby, even the nation’s best-educated young people seem not to be aware of the plague’s impact here in their own homeland, beginning in the very decade when many of them were born.

“The de-gaying thing really worked,” said author and Dartmouth College professor Michael Bronski. “For better or worse, we did our jobs.” As evidence, Bronski described a class he taught about AIDS, called “Plagues and Politics.” He said his students couldn’t understand why he spoke of AIDS as a “gay disease.” Even a lesbian student told him, “I thought it was a little weird you were talking so much about ‘gay.’” She believed AIDS “was Africa and inner-city drug users, but mostly Africa.” Another student said, “I was wondering how you were going to bring in the U.S. part.”

Young gay men can be forgiven for not knowing the details of their community’s recent travails. They didn’t live through the nightmare, after all. At the start of the millennium, The New York Times noted that a generation of young gay men had by then already come of age without seeing their peers suffer and die from the horrific and disfiguring effects of HIV before HAART brought such dramatic change for many of those living with the virus.

Older gay men, many having lost lovers and friends and possibly living with HIV themselves, seem to prefer pleasanter subjects than the horrors we lived through. It’s understandable, to an extent. As with returning war vets, the grief and shock sustained by our wounded warriors keep so many of us silent.

December 15 2011 4:00 AM

When Ronnie came out as gay, his mother told him, "you better never come home with AIDS." In a new online video, he's finally coming out as HIV-positive.

"I begged with God," Ronnie remembers spending time at a hospital chapel before getting his test result. "I'll do this, I'll do that. Just don't let it happen."

The video was shot as part of Cuentame, a new online campaign that's trying to generate conversation among the Latino community about being LGBT.

December 12 2011 11:48 AM

 Ashamed to Die: Silence, Denial, and the AIDS Epidemic in the South
Andrew J. Skerritt writes that the United States has failed to adequately address the threat of HIV in communities of color, and that taboos about race, sex, and love — along with Southern conservatism and a legacy of racism — continue to create an unacceptable death toll. (Lawrence Hill Books, $24.95)

Delicate Courage: An Exquisite Journey of Love, Death, and Eternal Communication

12:00 PM

It
was eight years ago, on October 13, 2003, that I was afraid I was going to die.
I remember the phone call from my doctor telling me to come to his office to
talk about my blood work. I remember sitting in his office and seeing his white
coat sway with the breeze of the door closing. I remember him telling me, “Tom
I’m really sorry to have to tell you, but your HIV test results came back
positive.” As long as I live I will never forget that moment.

December 06 2011 4:00 AM

Showcasing an innovative new healthcare model, the West 17th Street Clinic opened in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood on Thursday, World AIDS Day.

December 04 2011 7:35 PM

TheGrammy-winning jazz and R&B singer Patti Austin — known for her duets with Michael Jackson and James Ingram —recently released Sound Advice, an album of covers that reworks material from artists like Depeche Mode, Frank Sinatra, and the Rolling Stones. Austin has long been a philanthropist, contributing to numerous causes,
including HIV (she lent her voice to an AIDS anthem that raised tens of thousands for the cause). On

December 03 2011 6:20 PM

December 02 2011 11:35 AM
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