Pierre Le Rouz
1981 saw the emergence a disease that would change the gay community and later the world’s attitude towards our sexual behavior, lifestyle and prejudices. It was 1st described as the Gay Plague; a disease that only affected gay men and was 1st called GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency). During the 80’s the word GRID was replaced with AIDS and this filled people with a horrendous fear as images of dying emaciated gay men were plastered in the media. During this time it was uncertain how the disease was transmitted and it was viewed as a death sentence and was highly stigmatized. Having the Gay Plague was shameful and society alienated you due to fear and ignorance. Now, 28 years later I wonder how much have changed?
My 1st encounter with HIV and AIDS was with a friend of mine in 1996. He was diagnosed with HIV 8 years prior and during the winter of 1996 he fell ill and died of AIDS related complications. All his friends knew of his HIV status that’s why we found it shocking that his family at his funeral told people he had died of Cancer. Even after his death his illness was denied. The shame of having a gay son was soon superseded by having a gay son with HIV that died of the disease. They never approved of his lifestyle and had always blamed his homosexuality for his death, when as a matter of fact he contracted the illness through a blood transfusion after a car accident. His family has still not forgiven the gay community for what we evidently have done to their son; his death instead of enlightening his family to the plight of people with HIV has made them homophobic and left them angry. Whether their prejudice and anger has dissipated since is uncertain.
by Pierre Le Rouz on