For those of you 50 years and older. What were you doing during the Gay Plague Era and how did you react?

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    Dec 28, 2013 10:08 PM GMT
    I myself due to drought, and work drying up on the farm I worked, moved to Melbourne Australia. Oh I had lived in the city for a few years before, and had been to underground clubs and bars, and made the odd visit to the city during the year, to get a root.

    Being young, straight off a farm, with the body to show, stocky, with big chests arms, and calves to die for, and a big smile to match. A friend was to get me a job working in the cities larges newest bathhouse Steamworks. Now closed and sold to the Coptic Church.

    I in many ways look at my first year working in the bathhouse as an education, getting to see the gay scene with it's light on. It was very exciting and I was very popular, getting the pick of the house to play with most days.

    We had a doc Davis Bradford come in to do blood tests once a week. Herpes was the big deal then, as they had a shots for most other things.

    But then David was to come in one day and tell us something big was going down in America and no one was talking about it. Men in NY and SF going into hospital very sick and even dying.

    We the staff at work were to talk about this for sometime, as to what it was and what was causing it. Lord forbid if it was air born, because there would be another Holocaust, this time of homosexuals.

    Homosexuality in my state of Australia was making advancement for homosexuals during this time, and I had played a roll in helping this come to pass. Homosexuality was taken off the mental health act, as well decriminalised in law.

    But when the news of Grids hitting the worlds media, latter AIDS the gay world just turned upside down, and we went backwards in our advancement.

    The bathhouse I worked at, were you would get a few thousand pass though the door over a weekend, trickled down to maybe 3 people.

    All us gays who were out were seen as having AIDS, and lord forbid if we got a cold. Many gays and bis went back to their wives and mothers hiding under the bed. Many become drunks, going to the bars but afraid to touch, and only looking. Not to also mention all the bloody deaths.

    I was to stand blindly steadfast to a community that had become family, in hope a cure would be found, and things would start to turn around. Thirty years on we still wait for that cure.icon_sad.gif

    That was my experience. What was yours?
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    Dec 28, 2013 10:41 PM GMT
    I have survived this era to live to be in my 50s and to still be HIV-. This is not to say I have not been effected by this era. With the death of so many mates and loved ones who are not in my life today, but still live on within me, as I have not forgotten.

    But It was to also change the direction of my life, and I'm not sure where I would be today; albeit I'm blessed to be in a good place, with a man who has been by my side for over twenty years.

    Maybe I had to live though this, to get to the good place I am now?
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    Dec 28, 2013 11:33 PM GMT
    One of the things that sticks in my mind, is that I did get to become 50, and still be HIV-.

    How I do ponder. I stuck by the gay community, during our darkest years; albeit so many did flee, and go into hiding. Once blood test became available for HIV, I was to find out I had had many sexual experiences with people who found out they were in fact HIV+ You could read it on their faces. Yes I started to have sex when free love was the go, and many were unknowingly infected.

    After I gave back my Gay Card, and went back to the bush and worked as a lumber Jack. during this time I met a guy named Don, and we had a sexual relationship for two or more years. I did talk with him about Hiv/AIDS and he always lead me to believe he was HIV-.

    Sex with him was freaking great, and over time he promoted unsafe sex. it was not until I moved back to the city, that I found out he had dyed of AIDS, and I am still HIV-?
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    Dec 28, 2013 11:37 PM GMT
    I understand how many may not be proud of their response, reaction. But our stories must not be lost to time. So many gone, not able to tell their stories.
  • Sportsfan1

    Posts: 479

    Dec 29, 2013 12:09 AM GMT
    I am in my early 60's. I remember that era very well. I was busy with my career. I did not socialize or go to bars very much. I was certainly not celibate. The best thing I can say is I dodged a bullet. When people started to get sick I got busy taking care of them. Once we knew what we were up against I took all of the necessary precautions. I am happy to say that I always test HIV negative. I have had two long term partners that died of AIDS. We had healthy sex lives but as I mentioned I always took precautions.
    Not only am I waiting for a cure I am praying for one. This just proves to me how resilient LGBT people are. Keep fighting and keep charging!
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    Dec 29, 2013 12:17 AM GMT
    My nerdy lack of self-confidence and lack of self-knowledge got me through those years. I didn't come out and start exploring my gay identity until 1989 when I was 28. By that time people knew how to practice safer sex to guard against being infected by HIV. During the worst of the "plague years" I was busy focusing on my undergraduate and graduate studies and not having sex with anyone.
  • fitartistsf

    Posts: 638

    Dec 29, 2013 12:25 AM GMT
    Currently, I'm 51yo...
    For most of the 80s and early 90s, I was in the US Navy... Now this doesn't, or didn't, preclude the idea of hooking up, but with my not being out, or the fact that this was even pre-DADT, and the merest whisper would have you kicked out with a Dishonorable Discharge, or that AIDS was thought to be contracted from handshakes, kissing, toilet seats, water fountains, breathing on someone, or that I was a virgin, or that I had very bad body and self worth issues (which I still have) or that I wanted no taint on my eventual discharge to appear on my paperwork, I kept deep in the closet, even dated women to appear straight (no sex though)... it scared me to think that if and when I DID come out and be sexually active, I would stand no chance of survival... 3 months before my last enlistment was up, I did start dating a guy, had sex for the first time, numerous times. It ended when I left the Navy and moved away to start college... A week before I left, the guy told me he was Positive... I freaked out. 20/20 hindsight: he never did anything, or allow me to do anything, dangerous to my health, nice of him, I guess...
    To this day I am still afraid to date or have sex, or to even know anyone HIV positive... or even hope of trying to start a successful relationship, because of all the "nice" guys out there that lie about their status...
  • seafrontbloke

    Posts: 300

    Dec 29, 2013 12:40 AM GMT
    1981, I was a closeted gay virgin, scared of the response I'd get from my family or friends if I came out. Oddly, it had never occurred to me that I could be active and in the closet at the same time.

    Throughout the 80s I stayed exactly there, the "AIDS-don't die of ignorance" TV adverts in the UK made me even less likely to do anything.

    Then the internet arrived. I finally had the courage to do something, I hooked up aged 36 ...

    I'm certain that my personal mentality saved me from potential infection, but it gave me hang ups I'm still working through.
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    Dec 29, 2013 12:41 AM GMT
    Thank you for sharing guys. The thing that was to make me give back my Gay card, and walk away from a community I had looked at as family was, seeing men, well knowing they were HIV+, and living life as nothing had changed. Putting the enjoyment of their dick, before the health of the people they had infected, without a seemingly care in the world; so long as Freddie did not miss out.

    This had a devastating effect on me, and I'm not sure I have ever gotten over it, and the words that ring in my ears is. "well I was in denial at the time!"
  • hebrewman

    Posts: 1367

    Dec 29, 2013 12:42 AM GMT
    the height of it began as i was a freshman in college. since i was just a skinny band geek at the time, my sexual activity was next to nothing. it was not until i graduated that things filled out body wise and so did my sex life. (god i envy those days of non stop boners!!)the plague hit my industry hard (airlines in the early 1980's) and i lost several dozen friends. i remember getting hit hardest when my buddy derek pass peacefully from AIDS related complications in toronto in august of 1995. he was fun, full of life, cute and a scifi geek like me. when i got the call that he had died, i think i cried like i've never cried before. he was such a good and gentle soul. i met him in palm springs in 1991 and, while we were never fuck buds, we just hit it off. derek, if you're listening, i miss ya buddy. wish i had YOUR shoulder to cry on this time.

    so that kids, is what i remember from the height of the plague. it's still out there. lurking. be careful.
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    Dec 29, 2013 12:49 AM GMT
    Do you really believe that PR bullshit about a flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas who supposedly spread AIDS worldwide?
  • hebrewman

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    Dec 29, 2013 12:54 AM GMT
    turbobilly saidDo you really believe that PR bullshit about a flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas who supposedly spread AIDS worldwide?


    you mean patient zero? that's the myth. i'm not totally onboard with that. remember, according to the book, ''AND THE BAND PLAYED ON'', the theory is that it could have taken hold when the tall ships sailed into new york for operation sail 1976. ''FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD, THEY CAME TO NEW YORK.'' who knows. i do know that it did hit my industry hard, along with interior design, actors, dancers, hair stylists, and the like.

    ....THE MORE PRECISE QUOTE..... it's the preamble to the book. and, it's a good read too!!

    And the Band Played On

    By Randy Shilts

    Published in 1987

    "Tall sails scraped the deep purple night as rockets burst, flared, and flourished red, white, and blue over the stoic Statue of Liberty. The whole world was watching, it seemed; the whole world was there. Ships from fifty-five nations had poured sailors into Manhattan to join the throngs, counted in the millions, who watched the greatest pyrotechnic extravaganza ever mounted, all for America's 200th birthday party. Deep into the morning, bars all over the city were crammed with sailors. New York City had hosted the greatest party ever known, everybody agreed later. The guests had come from all over the world."

    "This was the part the epidemiologists would later note, when they stayed up late at night and the conversation drifted toward where it had started and when. They would remember that glorious night in New York Harbor, all those sailors, and recall: From all over the world they came to New York."
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    Dec 29, 2013 1:17 AM GMT
    turbobilly saidDo you really believe that PR bullshit about a flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas who supposedly spread AIDS worldwide?


    It is still believed down here in Oz, that he was the American that infected Australia with AIDS.
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    Dec 29, 2013 1:22 AM GMT
    I was in New York that summer, 1976. I wasn't living there yet, but I'd gone there to cover two stories for the paper: the Memorial Day rally of the Moonies at Yankee Stadium and the Democratic Convention. All told, I was there almost two months. And yes. we partied. The drinking age back then was 18, and I was 19.

    This thread made me dig up some old address books in a drawer to see if I could figure out how many friends and acquaintances of mine died of the plague. The answer was 58, more than some and less than many. Not all were close friends, some were just guys I met through other guys, or hung out with on the beach and we swapped phone numbers. The close friends, the ones I hoped to grow old with, were maybe 24 of them.

    This is part of why guys my age have a diminished dating pool. Too many of my potential partners are dead.
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    Dec 29, 2013 1:25 AM GMT
    derek, if you're listening, i miss ya buddy. wish i had YOUR shoulder to cry on this time.

    This alone could make me cry, for the loved ones I lost, and wish were still in my life today.
  • hebrewman

    Posts: 1367

    Dec 29, 2013 2:04 AM GMT
    tru_blu_ozzie said
    turbobilly saidDo you really believe that PR bullshit about a flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas who supposedly spread AIDS worldwide?


    It is still believed down here in Oz, that he was the American that infected Australia with AIDS.


    actually tru blu, he was a flight attendant with air canada. french canadian, based in montreal at the time.
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    Dec 29, 2013 2:05 AM GMT
    tru_blu_ozzie said
    turbobilly saidDo you really believe that PR bullshit about a flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas who supposedly spread AIDS worldwide?


    It is still believed down here in Oz, that he was the American that infected Australia with AIDS.

    The Gaeton story was total fiction (other than that he existed, and contracted AIDS). Randy Shilts made it up to sell books - sounded sensational.

    As far as the HIV virus itself, it has been found in preserved blood samples from africa, going back to the 1950's and earlier. Presumably spread from contact with other primates, where it was endemic.
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    Dec 29, 2013 2:08 AM GMT
    HEBREWMAN said
    tru_blu_ozzie said
    turbobilly saidDo you really believe that PR bullshit about a flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas who supposedly spread AIDS worldwide?


    It is still believed down here in Oz, that he was the American that infected Australia with AIDS.


    actually tru blu, he was a flight attendant with air canada. french canadian, based in montreal at the time.


    There is now plenty of information available(which I am not going to research for everyone) that shows that HIV spread across continents by multiple infected persons, and that it could not have thrived as a virus if only a single person carried it.
  • hebrewman

    Posts: 1367

    Dec 29, 2013 2:11 AM GMT
    tru_blu_ozzie saidderek, if you're listening, i miss ya buddy. wish i had YOUR shoulder to cry on this time.

    This alone could make me cry, for the loved ones I lost, and wish were still in my life today.


    dear god, i just did a mental note (while i still have cognitive ability---thanks chemo!!!) and i believe that i have lost 26 co workers in the early 1990's, one of which i looked over all night long while on a layover as he was feverish. finally i put him in a tub of cool water to cool his core temp until his 'hiv buddy' arrived to take him home. 10 from high school and college, and countless friends and acquaintances that i hung out with in dc at the lost and found, tracks, the exile, the eagle, bandlands, and rehoboth. man,this thread is even more depressing than the relationship give up thread. i feel sad. and old. very very old.
  • hebrewman

    Posts: 1367

    Dec 29, 2013 2:13 AM GMT
    HikerSkier said
    HEBREWMAN said
    tru_blu_ozzie said
    turbobilly saidDo you really believe that PR bullshit about a flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas who supposedly spread AIDS worldwide?


    It is still believed down here in Oz, that he was the American that infected Australia with AIDS.


    actually tru blu, he was a flight attendant with air canada. french canadian, based in montreal at the time.


    There is now plenty of information available(which I am not going to research for everyone) that shows that HIV spread across continents by multiple infected persons, and that it could not have thrived as a virus if only a single person carried it.


    good point. i motion that we table this one.
    second?
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    Dec 29, 2013 2:21 AM GMT
    Aristoshark saidI was in New York that summer, 1976. I wasn't living there yet, but I'd gone there to cover two stories for the paper: the Memorial Day rally of the Moonies at Yankee Stadium and the Democratic Convention. All told, I was there almost two months. And yes. we partied. The drinking age back then was 18, and I was 19.

    This thread made me dig up some old address books in a drawer to see if I could figure out how many friends and acquaintances of mine died of the plague. The answer was 58, more than some and less than many. Not all were close friends, some were just guys I met through other guys, or hung out with on the beach and we swapped phone numbers. The close friends, the ones I hoped to grow old with, were maybe 24 of them.

    This is part of why guys my age have a diminished dating pool. Too many of my potential partners are dead.

    This does bring back sad memories. I survived a bullet. I had just come out, and had been having sex with lots of men in the couple years just before the disease became known. I guess I am still alive because I am lucky, I was never into drugs, I cut way back on the amount of sex at the right time, and I started using condoms as soon as it seemed it was sexually transmissible. Though I survived, most of my friends died. I have only a handful of friends from the beginning of the plague years (and a few who were also alive then, but I have subsequently met.) There were over 100 men I knew that died. Way too many funerals. I remember going on a great sailing vacation in the Carribean sometime in the mid-80's. A group of 12 of us. I am the only one of the group still alive.
  • metta

    Posts: 39144

    Dec 29, 2013 2:55 AM GMT
    What a difference a few years make. I'm just a few years younger than 50 and feel very fortunate. I knew about AIDS before I knew I was gay. In high school, I was not thinking about dating. I was trying to get into the university that I applied for (I only applied to one and I did get in) and I was trying to spend as much time with my family as I could because my father was dying of cancer at the time.

    Even today, I don't think that I have had any close friends that have died of AIDS. The closest that I have really gotten to it is knowing people that know people that have died of it and people like Pedro Zamora. I'm awful at dealing with the death of loved ones. I don't know that I would be able to cope with the loss that so many that many of you have had to endure. My heart goes out to you. LOVING HUGS TO ALL OF YOU!
















  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Dec 29, 2013 3:21 AM GMT
    HEBREWMAN said... i feel sad. and old. very very old.

    Being almost 20 years your senior, imagine how I feel, especially in relation to this topic.

    Although I identified as gay, I was in a monogamous hetero relationship when the AIDS epidemic began. I attribute this to why I'm still alive. In the beginning it was a time of chaos and confusion that eventually became organized and confrontational due to Act Up and other activist groups. I lost many, many friends, including a nephew six years younger than myself. The most recent loss was my ex who had been living with HIV for many years before we met. He died of HIV complications three years ago, age 52. Frankly, it isn't a time I like to think about.
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    Dec 29, 2013 4:01 AM GMT
    The "gay cancer" rumors we heard in Seattle were that it was in New York and SF, but that it would spread to the rest of the country.

    Thanks to pure fear, some very diligent work by Gay and Lesbian organizations (no thanks to the Reagan Administration), and local activists, my 1983, 18 year old self was educated about condom use right when I came out.

    I was super pissed off that we had to use them and that I couldn't participate in the unbridled, wanton sex I had read about all those years as a horny teenager in the closet. Because of my age, I didn't experience many people dying early on, but later in life, some of my older gay brothers turned up infected with HIV and some got very sick and died. Some of my friends just slipped up once, got sick, and died. It was terrifying. I slipped up twice, and dodged the bullet both times.

    One of my buddies, who is living with AIDS now, had sex with a guy on the beach, and when they were done, the guy said, "I just did to you what someone else did to me," then began to cry. Right then my buddy knew he was infected. Chilling, but true.

    I'm here because of luck, and because I was careful in my sexual practices. I have been a top my whole life, with the two instances of experimentation I mentioned previously. I had a lot of sex in my 20s and 30s, and it was awesome. No regrets whatsoever. I sowed my oats well, and am lucky that I never got anything worse than a case of crabs once.

    Yes, we still live with HIV and AIDS, and the treatments are so much better now, but it is still a full time job to live with this disease, so the younger guys who may read this, take heed. It is not cool to get HIV. You can live free of it by being careful and practicing safer sex. No guy is worth barebacking for, no matter how well you know him.

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    Dec 29, 2013 7:16 AM GMT
    I was pretty much celibate most of the aids early years. I was trying to stay straight which actually probably saved me. But boy was I miserable. When I saw people I knew dying it was a very sad time. Here in the LA area people just became very cautious but it didn't seem to stop the horniness. The first man that I loved died in 96. All but one guy told me they were positive in my experience with intimacy.