A Topic for those of us who knew life before AIDS, and who survived the 70s, 80s, 90s, and soon the 00s. What were you doing when the shit hit the fan in the 80s?

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    Oct 27, 2009 11:03 PM GMT
    In the early 80s I was still working the land as a Farmer, but due to drought I was forced to move to the city for work, just before I turned 21. My first job for the next 5 years was to work in a Bathhouse.

    This was an eye opener for a kid off a farm. I got to see the gay community with the lights on. What could of taken me a few years to learn, I was to learn in a few months. I embraced this community 110%. I stared to become proactive in the fight for the advancement of the gays of my State, because then it was still a criminal offence to have homosexual relations, and you could be kicked out of the police force or military for haveing a mental illness; being gay. We were able to have homosexuality decriminalised, and taken off the mental health list. But with AIDs it set the wheels of advanment, into reverce.

    Now in my City there was a few gay clubs, and us guys who worked in them were seen as celebrity's in the gay community; we also had to endure the police raids.

    Then one day the Head of the VD Clinic, who is also gay. Come in one day and told us, something was going down in the US of A, but no-one was talking about it. ( I feel the move: "And the band Played on." covers this time well.) Then one day it hit the paper, the "Gay Plague", and fear and histeria was all around me. Before this the Bathhouse I worked at would have thousands pass it's doors on a weekend,and that dropped to only a few people over a whole weekend.

    With my job, it was assumed I was infected, and I was treated as if I was. But I endured all of this, I did not go into hiding, or flee. I stood stead fast by the Gay Community, when so many did not. I stood by it in it's darkest years, when so many fled out of fear.

    Then when so much of the fear died down, and people started to go out again. I was to come to know many who did not come out of it uninfected, as I had. But I also seen them go on as nothing had happened, infecting people along the way, not wanting to miss out on the party, or deprive their dick of young flesh.

    Witnessing all this first hand has had an ever lasting effect on me. To this day I am still HIV-. But I've had people deliberately try to infect me, out of their own bitterness, and many had a right too feel bitter, but not to go out of their way to infect others.

    Now I must concede my City and country was not put on it's knees as the US of A was, but we still suffered, and were affected.

    So I walked away from a community I fort for. A community I stood by, when so many others did not, as they fled, and hid out of fear.

    So this was my life when AIDS hit the Media, and hysteria was all around us. This is what I was doing.

    So how did you react?

    What did you do?

    What were you doing.

    If you hid, please don't feel shame, you would of been young like I. But even though I was never infected, this time has had an ever lasting effect on me, and my life. I lost lots of my friends, and I lost a community I loved and stood by in it's darkest years.
  • jarhead5536

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    Oct 28, 2009 2:35 AM GMT
    When the dying started, I was a college senior living in Houston and tending bar in a big gay disco to pay the bills. I stopped having sex altogether as my friends started dropping one by one. I don't have a single friend left alive that I knew before 1990, which was the year I couldn't take anymore death and ran off to join the Marines after grad school. I didn't care if I never saw another gay man again at that point...
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    Oct 28, 2009 2:43 AM GMT
    Ya know. Your posts are pretty good when you're not pretending to be illiterate and crazier than you actually are. icon_smile.gif

    I was in junior high when I first started hearing about aids. By the time I got out of college I had made many older friends that took me under their wing, helped me come out and gave me somewhere to run to and someone to cry to through those growing pains. Then they began dying. Sometimes it was long and horribly drawn out. Other times I would see one one week, only to be told he had become suddenly ill and passed away before the next. By the mid 90's all of them were dead except one. He was a performer and had a couple weekly drag/cabaret shows. His counts started to bottom out and he was essentially told to settle his affairs because he wouldn't be around much longer. He made the decision to have one farewell performance and move to the Oregon coast to spend his last days with friends that lived there. He became progressively sicker and we all began to face the reality that someone everyone loved and cared about was about to leave us forever. Then miraculously and unexpectedly the PI's hit the scene. He got a second chance and I'm still fortunate enough to have one of those men who inspired, encouraged and protected me during a very difficult part of my life still alive today.
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    Oct 28, 2009 2:56 AM GMT
    jarhead5536 saidWhen the dying started, I was a college senior living in Houston and tending bar in a big gay disco to pay the bills. I stopped having sex altogether as my friends started dropping one by one. I don't have a single friend left alive that I knew before 1990, which was the year I couldn't take anymore death and ran off to join the Marines after grad school. I didn't care if I never saw another gay man again at that point...


    You know in many ways this gives us so much in commion. I too do not have one friend left before the 90s, not one. All the life long friends I would of had, all gone.

    But When I could not deal with the death anymore, I ran off to the bush and worked as a lumberjack, and I don't care. I looked at those guys I worked with sometimes, and wondered what they would think, if they only knew what I had not long been though. Those big butch men most likely would of ran off like big girls, fearing I had AIDS.
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    Oct 28, 2009 3:12 AM GMT
    Pattison said
    jarhead5536 saidWhen the dying started, I was a college senior living in Houston and tending bar in a big gay disco to pay the bills. I stopped having sex altogether as my friends started dropping one by one. I don't have a single friend left alive that I knew before 1990, which was the year I couldn't take anymore death and ran off to join the Marines after grad school. I didn't care if I never saw another gay man again at that point...
    You know in many ways this gives us so much in commion. I too do not have one friend left before the 90s, not one. All the life long friends I would of had, all gone.
    But When I could not deal with the death anymore, I ran off to the bush and worked as a lumberjack, and I don't care. I looked at those guys I worked with sometimes, and wondered what they would think, if they only knew what I had not long been though. Those big butch men most likely would of ran off like big girls, fearing I had AIDS.

    Your posts literally made my eyes tear up... I'm so sorry you had to see so much death and inhumanity.
    I was in junior high & high school when my uncle was diagnosed with AIDS and was on his death bed twice from 1982-1986. that's when I started volunteering at the university as an HIV counselor for students who would come in to get tested. How my uncle survived is nothing short of a miracle. The priest came both times and did last rights... he remembers both times.
    I'm sorry for the loss of your friends... I can't imagine what that was like. I know it doesn't amount to much, but if you were my friend I would hug you both every time I saw you and remind you that you aren't alone, and to try to make up for the horrible losses you've had. I hate what this disease has done... I hate what it has done to you and so many others.
  • bradsmith

    Posts: 175

    Oct 28, 2009 3:19 AM GMT
    We started using condoms....but we used sheepskin ones...which, it turns out later, provided no protection against HIV...and so it goes...

    And since then, I've volunteered for many organizations trying to help my community survive the devastation of so much death...
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    Oct 28, 2009 3:28 AM GMT
    bradsmith saidWe started using condoms....but we used sheepskin ones...which, it turns out later, provided no protection against HIV...and so it goes...

    And since then, I've volunteered for many organizations trying to help my community survive the devastation of so much death...


    This is something I don't talk about much, as I feel no need to. But I have gone into the homes of people with HIV, and helped them in their homes. May it be cleaning, cooking, shopping, banking you name it, to help them stay in their homes.

    Funny I don't tell them I'm a homosexual, as it's not relevant, yet many have felt safe and secure with me, and pick up on me not being there to judge, as I'm not. I'm there to give a service.
  • jgymnast733

    Posts: 1783

    Oct 28, 2009 3:29 AM GMT
    At that time the focus was on gay white males who were dying from something we knew nothing about..I can remember friends of the family going to france for the only chance at a cure but to no avail....
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    Oct 28, 2009 3:30 AM GMT
    I think a lot of people in the 30-somes might have been given the better end of the deal. They learned from the friends they lost. When the new drugs rolled out and people stopped dying at the rapid rate of the late 80s, kids decided it was something they could deal with. Guys my age have decided its a risk worth taking. What they all go through after with the drugs seems like its a hell enough for me to try to avoid it.... My guess is another mutation before the vaccinations start... And it will start over...
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    Oct 28, 2009 4:12 AM GMT
    I turned 21 in the early 80s and going to UCLA with its proximity to West Hollywood (Revolver, Rage and Studio One were my regular haunts) meant sex was pretty easy to get. Though I was considered "very handsome" at the time I didn't think I was hot enough to get the guys I really wanted, so I never tried. I have a nice build, but was not considered a "hottie" by today's standards. Older guys used to buy me drinks, but I never had sex with them. So, based on my lack of self confidence, attracting guys I wasn't attracted to, vanilla sex, and thankfully, meeting my boyfriend at age 23, at which point we became monogamous, I avoided getting infected. But, I knew those who were not so lucky. I think my lack of self confidence probably saved my life.
  • Sparkycat

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    Oct 28, 2009 4:25 AM GMT
    In the early 80's I was living in Morgantown, WV, a small town, and there had been no reported cases in the state. I was in school part time working on a BFA and working full time for Univ of WV as a theatre technician. The only places in town for gay men to hookup were two adult book stores with plenty of glory holes and staff who really didn't care what anyone did as long as they spent quarters playing the 8mm videos. I spent lots of time cruising there, I mean LOTS of time. I was practically obsessed with it. I must have spent a fortune in quarters. I thought it was fun. I loved the anonymous sex. It was almost entirely oral, which is probably what saved me. The bookstores were always packed with guys, and everyone was having sex with everyone. Then, seemingly overnight, it all stopped. I'd go into the bookstores, and there would be no guys there. The party was over, as they say. That was it. End of cruising. I didn't know anyone who had AIDS or who died from it. I know that sounds odd, but I never got to know any of the hundreds of guys I had contact with. It was all anonymous. I know guys now who are HIV+ and thankfully are doing great on the meds. I'm very lucky I was never infected because I was very promiscuous.
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    Oct 28, 2009 4:39 AM GMT
    Early 80's, just graduated from high school and was a freshman in college. I came out fully to family and friends; and they warned me to be careful. During the next 14 years, many of my friends passed away. Then it hit me and I was stunned and bewildered. I was careful, but a friend hid his secret and the fact that the rubber ripped. My life changed and I felt alone. My friends rallied around me, my family showered me with more love, and I took the steps to fight this disease.
    It has been 14 years, I am undetectable and healthy. Working out helps me to keep my body strong and the meds (once a day) keep me going. I have a healthy outlook that things will get better. My niece, who is a nursing student, invited me to speak for one of her classes. It was the first time that I had ever stood in front of strangers and discussed what I went through. My partner (who is negative) was there and it was an experience that I will never forget. They listened and I received letters thanking me for telling my story.
    I am living with this disease and showing others that this is not a death sentence. I have met others who have had this for 20+ years and they are healthy. A cure will be found and I will keep fighting.
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    Oct 28, 2009 5:05 AM GMT
    Paxton saidEarly 80's, just graduated from high school and was a freshman in college. I came out fully to family and friends; and they warned me to be careful. During the next 14 years, many of my friends passed away. Then it hit me and I was stunned and bewildered. I was careful, but a friend hid his secret and the fact that the rubber ripped. My life changed and I felt alone. My friends rallied around me, my family showered me with more love, and I took the steps to fight this disease.
    It has been 14 years, I am undetectable and healthy. Working out helps me to keep my body strong and the meds (once a day) keep me going. I have a healthy outlook that things will get better. My niece, who is a nursing student, invited me to speak for one of her classes. It was the first time that I had ever stood in front of strangers and discussed what I went through. My partner (who is negative) was there and it was an experience that I will never forget. They listened and I received letters thanking me for telling my story.
    I am living with this disease and showing others that this is not a death sentence. I have met others who have had this for 20+ years and they are healthy. A cure will be found and I will keep fighting.


    Thanks for sharing> The thing that gets me, is before we know about AIDS, I know now I had sexual encounters with people why were infected at the time, but did not know.

    I too had a sexual relationship with a guy for two years, and a condom was not used more than was, as Don had let me belive he was negative like I. Man that sex was hard and hot too.

    But I'm still HIV-. Mind you I now take medication for an over active immune system, so slow it down, as my white blood cells were truing on me, and attacking healthy joints. Maybe this is why I'm still HIV-?
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    Oct 28, 2009 5:07 AM GMT
    i was having a great time, having unprotected sex.

    then i read an article..
    GASP

    i stopped going out, got tested, scary moment, but hiv- .

    i had a few guys after, but safe sex was then IN.
    still being closeted, i later shut the door even tighter and didn't see live dick for years.
    shame on me.
    but i survived. :
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    Oct 28, 2009 5:38 AM GMT
    . . . In 1981, I was in college in Illinois . . . I had come out to a few people and was introduced to the gay world by a history major I knew . . . I vividly remember a party at a history professor's house at which an orgy room had been created in the basement . . . I even helped carry the mattresses for the orgy room from a nearby english professor's house (I was a good, helpful lad) . . . but I didn't participate in the orgy . . . I was quite naive, scared, shy, and not really turned on by the egghead types even though I was one of them . . . I was content to sit in the living room, look pretty, drink wine spritzers, and smoke Sobranis . . . (and that was the same living room where I later saw my first gay porn video, The Boys of Venice, which was quite an eye opener) . . .

    . . . later that year, one guy in my small group of gay acquaintances started making jokes about how he was going on an all-chicken diet; he was apparently thinking that "virginal" young guys (as opposed to fat Haitian men) would not be infected with whatever new mysterious disease was being talked about in the big cities and the gay press. . .

    . . . I was lucky in a number of ways, and, looking back on those years, I can see that I had some close calls . . .

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    Oct 28, 2009 6:00 AM GMT
    [quote][cite]jprichva said[/cite]There are so many stories, and so many friends lost.

    I want to write something but I find I am at a lose of what to say or where to begin. I will be 60 in about 2 months 30 of those years living here in SF Bay area and feel extremely lucky to have made 5 full decades although it wasn't for the lack of trying on my part. It seems there was always some accident or doctors mistake just waiting around the next bent for me. Trying to take from me what I wanted to keep......my life.

    But it is the taking from me of so so many loved friends, boyfriends and cherished guys that is so profound in my life. For 4 decades I have held the hands cried tears and saw the smiles of so many amazing beautiful men end. They were 18, 19, 21, 26, 28, 30, 33 ( lover ) 35, 36 and on and just recently 50. I have albums of guys on snow and water ski trips, white water rafting trips and Stanford football games and it is easier to say who is alive as they are fewer.

    Before I met my lover in 84 he was friends with 11 guys from Seattle all within a year of each other and almost all came out during the same year. Each year they would meet and celebrate their friendship in Seattle usually during a hot summer day. They always partied at one to lakes and took tons of pictures doing swimcapdes stunts off the pier. It was fun they were young 25ish and everything ahead of them. They were all dead by 93 and just before each one died they sent the pics each took of the party to another in the group. Except for one I never met them but I hold all the pics taken by each one of their parties. I am the keeper of memories of a few days of their life.

    You are right JP there are so many many stories and so many tears.

    GuerillaSodo said : He got a second chance and I'm still fortunate enough to have one of those men who inspired, encouraged and protected me during a very difficult part of my life still alive today.

    That is very heart warming to hear and read. It is also heart warming to know that these men cared for you and showed you love. Equally nice to know you returned it.

    I am also very fortunate to have known and loved the guys I have lost. Equally fortunate to have and cherish my friends here that are left
  • Latenight30

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    Oct 28, 2009 2:13 PM GMT
    I have to say all these stories don't need to be on here. They need to be out in the schools and colleges. It's not gone away. Not by a long shot. Dead is dead.
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    Oct 28, 2009 2:41 PM GMT
    Thanks to all of your for sharing. Such...courage and fortitude. This thread is tough to read and brings up a lot of memories.

    My "cool gay uncle" John and his partner became positive in the mid 80s. It was a strange thing to be a secretly gay teen on a rural farm in the 80s and, before I'd even really formulated what 'gay' meant for me, have their situation unfolding before me.

    Rick died in 90, John in 92. He'd be 45 if he were still here.
  • zakariahzol

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    Oct 28, 2009 2:49 PM GMT
    I was a high school student in Malaysia reading a news article about a strange unknown disease killing homosexual in San Francisco. I already know that I am a gay and need to be careful . But San Francisco is on the other side of the world so , it not really matter to me. Later on I got a goverment scholarship to further study in USA , and I was very excited about it. Living in USA mean I am exposing myself to American men, and of cause AIDS. I was having sex with strangers, adult bookstores(just like somebody mention), public toilet and whatever chances I got.

    But thru it all, I never indulge in anal sex . I really think that what save me. I have this ideas that to do anal sex is dirty, sinful, and painful. But I sure suck all kind of dick , oral sex and all other least risky behaviour.

    Aids really became something we fear when Rock Hudson, was announce to be dying of it. I remember getting all afraid whevener I have a fever , thinking it might be AIDS. Its was constantly on my mind. There a big media coverage, on TV, Times magazine, newspaper, national enquirer, tabloid ...........everywhere.

    It was only , latter on we are told about condom and how to protect yourself again AIDS. It was really horrible back then.
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    Oct 28, 2009 3:03 PM GMT
    I was nearly 30 when AIDS became an issue and married with 2 children. Having been raised in the midwest well away from Population centers where AIDS start first rearing its ugly Head I was pretty well protected. But two of my best friends from our 1971 graduation class went to large cities and became very active in the gay world. One went to LA the other to Houston, My LA friend died of aides in 84' and the Houston friend who had become a very successful art dealer died in 86'. I became friends with a great guy who was also married whom I new played around on his buisness trips that fell to AIDS quite suddenly in 88', he virtually only lasted 3 months after getting sick. God was that a shock. Basicly what protected me was having been married while others were getting the desease, then after getting divorced being very careful with my sexual contacts. Had I done as my friends did I wouldn't be here either. I feel very fortunate.
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    Oct 29, 2009 2:20 AM GMT
    Latenight30 saidI have to say all these stories don't need to be on here. They need to be out in the schools and colleges. It's not gone away. Not by a long shot. Dead is dead.


    I have to say in many ways I agree with you, and it's why I keep talking about it, and bringing it up, as it's not gone away. But it should be here too, as the spead of HIV is rising in the gay community with our youth.
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    Oct 29, 2009 2:29 AM GMT
    RunintheCity saidThanks to all of your for sharing. Such...courage and fortitude. This thread is tough to read and brings up a lot of memories.

    My "cool gay uncle" John and his partner became positive in the mid 80s. It was a strange thing to be a secretly gay teen on a rural farm in the 80s and, before I'd even really formulated what 'gay' meant for me, have their situation unfolding before me.

    Rick died in 90, John in 92. He'd be 45 if he were still here.


    You know if drought had not hit, and I was forced off the land to get work. I would never of moved to the City when I did, thus not had the experiences I did, nor education. But since I was to learn form this, I have to ponder: if I was saved from these experiences, would I be alive today? Albeit I know if I had not experienced what I did back then, I would be a diffrent person today.
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    Oct 29, 2009 2:31 AM GMT
    I'm one of those guys who did not know more than a couple of guys who got sick and died. I feel so badly for those guys who didn't make it. I feel badly too - for those among you (like Jarhead) who lost so many friends. I'm amazed that I didn't lose more friends........especially since I lived in the shadow of San Francisco. I remember one particular friend who was so healthy - and then I saw him one day looking so thin - and so sad......this was in 1987. He would be 50 now. I stayed in close touch with his parents until they died a few years ago - - - trying in my own way to comfort them. I must have been very lucky not to have contracted HIV back then.
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    Oct 29, 2009 2:36 AM GMT
    In college and watching my best friend break out with KS and wither and then die.
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    Oct 29, 2009 4:09 AM GMT
    I'm now going to go and pray to the power that be, for those of us left behind.