And The Band Played On

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 01, 2008 7:15 PM GMT
    I just watched the movie And The Band Played On on the LOGO Network for what must have been at least the fifteenth time since it came out. For those of you that haven't seen it, it's a touching yet powerfully moving true story of the early years of AIDS and how it came about. The movie itself features an all-star cast with people like Matthew Modine, Lilly Tomlin, Steve Martin, Phil Collins, Ian McKellen and many others. The closing moments featuring a touching song by Elton John is all I need to shed a tear or two every time I view it. If you've never seen this movie for any reason, you need to do so very soon. Go rent it at Blockbuster this weekend if you need to.

    I am fortunate at nearly 42 years old in that I was tested for HIV recently and am negative. But I'll never forget what went on earlier in my life in early 1985. I was 19 at the time and rather clandestinely met a man in his late 20s. Older than my age certainly, but also certainly very attractive. At one point, this man introduced me to a friend of his, also in his late 20s, who claimed to have slept with at least 500 men. I was shocked and stunned. Needless to say, that friendship was very short lived; but I couldn't help but think about the AIDS epidemic, wondering if I was positive then. That's when I started reading and watching everything I could about AIDS, formerly known to me and the rest of the gay community as GRID, and HIV in general. I then learned that it was virtually impossible to contract AIDS based on what I did with my then-aquaintance. But I can't help but wonder, what ever happened to those two men now? It was so long ago and so short lived, I can't even tell you their names, but if one of those guys had HIV, it's virtually assured they both have it now, or HAD it anyhow. That was a very close call: unprotected sex with a randomly anonymous stranger. I was safe then and I still am now.

    I can't stress this enough: if you haven't seen this movie yet, go see it now!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 01, 2008 7:18 PM GMT
    Never saw the movie but the book I have read at least twice. Very depressing to say the least. There is a lot of blame to go around for letting AIDS take off the way it did. Arrogant scientists, so-called leaders who cared more about the "moral majority" then the health of their citizens, people in the gay community who put "sexual freedom" ahead of health, etc.. Makes me angry just thinking about it. icon_evil.gif
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Feb 01, 2008 10:38 PM GMT
    I was living in NY at the time...

    In HS and then college but trying to come to terms with being gay
    I think it was just luck that I was afraid to begin experimenting with sex because ... that could very easily have been me

    Some of the younger guys don't have the experience of living those very scary years .... where you didn't know what was going on and how many people were dying
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 01, 2008 10:59 PM GMT
    I was in college at the end of the 70s - on the San Francisco peninsula - so you know we all went into SF any chance we got. We hit all the hottest clubs. We took part in a lot of partying - without protection. I came out of it all unscathed.

    Do I feel lucky? Did I dodge the big bullet?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 01, 2008 11:10 PM GMT
    I had no awareness of HIV/AIDS until I went to West Point. The Army was surprisingly knowledgeable and frank with us (this was 1988 when I was a plebe) about how HIV is transmitted. When I left the Army and came out, my first partner had me read the book...and it scared the crap out of me. I had been tested as part of my admission process, but I was still a virgin then, and reading about it after I started to have sex with men was an eye-opener.

    I liked the movie (although I questioned some of the casting choices), but it doesn't do the book justice. I think it is one of those must-reads of gay men, ESPECIALLY younger guys who think its over or that the drug cocktails are a magic bullet. I've met guys 22 years old who are HIV+ because they didn't have enough knowledge available to them.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 01, 2008 11:17 PM GMT
    Funny, we just watched this in my AIDS in America class at school. Although it does provide a good frame of reference it has some glaring problems in the way it tends to place blame, spread the myth of "patient zero," and portray certain segments of the gay population as degenerate and not to be trusted.

    If you haven't read it, check out Douglas Crimp's essay, "Randy Shilt's Miserable Failure," in his book Melancholia and Moralism.

    It is available for free here
    http://books.google.com/books?id=FFwOGTzpIA0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=intitle:melancholia+intitle:and+intitle:moralism&lr=&as_brr=0&ei=1qejR_e4IYeQjgH3idHeDA&sig=FukZB91Sy5FuiBHpSn9ZHoelRfY#PPA117,M1

  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    Feb 01, 2008 11:57 PM GMT
    I came out in 1981 at seventeen. Also started having sex at that time, so I actually have rather vivid memories of the, uh, liberated behavior going on pre-AIDS. Those of us who bridged that time period and have lived to tell about it can feel like the lost generation sometimes. Most of us are dead, so meeting someone our own age is always a challenge.

    I recall the bathhouse/backroom wars, the threats of quarantine, Houston mayor Louie Welch (who recently went to Hell) saying the best way to stop the spread of AIDS would be to "shoot the queers". I was a bartender in college, so I was in a gay bar in Houston almost nightly for four years of the worst of the panic. Folks were literally dropping dead all around us, and no one could do anything to stop it. Truly I have never in my life been so frightened.

    The experience is difficult to describe to anyone that didn't live through it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 02, 2008 12:05 AM GMT
    Yes Jarhead, I remember it as well. But you cannot blame anyone for becoming infected, or anyone's liberated behavior. NO ONE KNEW and information was scarce and changing almost daily. Blaming behaviors buys into the myth which denies that folks, gay and straight, need to routinely take precautions.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 02, 2008 1:09 AM GMT
    I read the book about 7 years ago when I was in college. Very raw, heartbreaking, and informative. It makes you look back at that generation with a hell of a lot of compassion, respect and sympathy. I also wanted to add I was astounded at the ingnorance of so many. I'm lost on the idea that anyone would ever assume that a disease would have a brain and pick it's victims based on sexuality. I was so freakin young, just a baby when all that was going on but had I been even a teenager I would have been dumbfounded at the comments or LACK of intelligents displayed. The ghastly way the gay community was treated. And yet they heald their heads up and endured.
  • liftordie

    Posts: 823

    Feb 02, 2008 1:17 AM GMT
    i must have seen the movie at least a dozen times. i still cry from beginning to end. it is not only a well made movie but it truly depicts a time line that at that point in history we did not even know WAS a time line. it was just current events. every gay man of every age should see the movie at least once in their lifetime. that way we never ever forget!!!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 02, 2008 1:21 AM GMT
    liftordie saidi must have seen the movie at least a dozen times. i still cry from beginning to end. it is not only a well made movie but it truly depicts a time line that at that point in history we did not even know WAS a time line. it was just current events. every gay man of every age should see the movie at least once in their lifetime. that way we never ever forget!!!


    I totally agree! If not the movie please read the book. I think my generation and this younger generation just now coming up owes it to themselves and to those that have sense passed to truly understand the journey of the gay community. Like I said it will break your heart but you will also find a sense of pride that is so much more than just dancing in the streets and waving rainbow flags.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 02, 2008 1:23 AM GMT
    I agree nudewoody that it is pointless to blame people. However, there was some suspicion that sex was one way of transferring the virus, if people had started using condoms in large numbers in 1982 or 83, then a lot of people would have lived. The Reagan administration though has to take a large amount of blame for the lack of urgency in its' approach to the disease. Ronald Reagan did not mention it in public until his actor friend Rock Hudson came out in public. By that time 25,000 people in the USA had died and heaven only knows how many were infected. One of the worse examples of abdication of leadership in the 20th century. I know Ronald Reagan is popular with many Americans, but as a "foreigner" I have never understood the attraction.

    As for "patient zero" (who was BTW an Air Canada male flight attendant) that was pure speculation. The individual was irresponsible in his actions (going to bathhouses and having unprotected sex while sick), but there is no way to prove he transferred the virus from Africa to North America. I read recently that the virus probably first infected people in Northern Cameroon in the late 1950's.

    Interestingly enough primates are not seriously impacted by HIV but are by a virus that humans have an immunity to. Supposedly you can have immunity to one of the viruses but not both, so either way something like HIV would have come along eventually. Makes one wonder what other virus is lurking in the isolated tropical forests of the world!
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Feb 02, 2008 1:16 PM GMT
    It really doesn't matter who was patient zero and the men who were sexually active at the time and not wearing condoms weren't doing anything that was viewed at risky at the time
    If you want to blame someone
    Talk to the Republicans who were running the gov't who had thousands of people dying of a illness that was incurable and we had a President who never mentioned the name of the disease
    No government money was spent on helping these people no research
    and THAT'S who you blame
  • farfle

    Posts: 105

    Feb 02, 2008 1:39 PM GMT
    Definitely a powerful movie and book. Most of my friends from that time are long dead now...it was a frightening time to live through, particularly because information was so hard to come by. With little research going on, rumors and speculation ruled the day. It saddens me to see that there are so many young guys now who don't have any idea what it was like and participate in the same behaviors that helped spread this epidemic so quickly. The treatments that are available now make it easier to live with AIDS and HIV, but certainly are no cure. Why don't they understand that it is better to play safe than risk infection with this deadly disease?

    As a side note, I would also strongly recommend seeing the film Longtime Companion. It is a moving portrait of the early days that always leaves me weeping. For anyone who lived through it, stop and think about where you were and what you were doing each time the film progresses to another time period. The film's ending is a bit sappy, but does not dtract from an otherwise powerful portrayal of what things were like then.
  • brokengaydar

    Posts: 2

    Feb 02, 2008 2:18 PM GMT
    Not to belittle the memories of those who were loved and lost but, farfle said "For anyone who lived through it, stop and think about where you were and what you were doing..."

    I had just left home and started attending college as well as some of you all and I was pissed! I hadn't explored my sexuality yet (read virgin) and was ready to let the fun begin! And then the bomb dropped...You mean to tell me I can die from having sex with other men?? Oh well, I'll just stay here in my closet with the door locked up tight!! icon_eek.gificon_evil.gificon_sad.gificon_cry.gif
    I felt like I had arrived at the party, but it ended just before I got there.
  • farfle

    Posts: 105

    Feb 02, 2008 7:57 PM GMT
    Wow, that really sucks, Broken...I guess I never thought about the people like you. Not sure which is worse, having lived that life and (slowly) realizing that you could never go there again orseeing it, almost reaching it, and having it snatched away!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 04, 2008 10:46 AM GMT
    I feel that way too.

    Being gay for me now isn't as liberating as I thought it would be. The HIV pandemic is now something I'll always have to look out for. With the percentage of available gay partners already a minority in the straight world, it narrows down your choices even further by having to be careful about HIV. Every guy you meet is a potential threat. It's like coming out of your closet only to find yourself locked in a very small room.

    You're afraid, and you're blamed, you feel for those who already have it, and there's nothing you can do.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 04, 2008 11:15 AM GMT
    I remember coming out to my brother and him telling me about a "Gay Cancer".

    A very good book and movie. This is a timely topic and it should remind us all during this election season to choose wisely, lest we find ourselves with another president that is insensitive to gay issues. How many people could have been saved if we reacted more quickly.

    There are gays who feel that gay issues are not as important as issues of economics when they cast their votes. I wonder how many gay americans voted for Reagan? I wonder how many gay americans did not vote at all?

    It really should make us all reflect on the impact of taking our right to vote lightly.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Dec 02, 2012 12:57 AM GMT
    If you've never seen it, watch it today...

  • hawkeye7

    Posts: 565

    Dec 02, 2012 1:29 AM GMT
    I am really glad the guy that stated this discussion had such a great, transformative experience. I had the same one....................but I came out.
    Almost 20 years ago you can't even show your face or name on a workout blog in 2012.
    dude grow up!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Dec 02, 2012 1:47 AM GMT
    hawkeye7 saidI am really glad the guy that stated this discussion had such a great, transformative experience. I had the same one....................but I came out.
    Almost 20 years ago you can't even show your face or name on a workout blog in 2012.
    dude grow up!


    This forum was started almost 4 years ago and was not posted to again until today. The original poster is likely not even a member of RJ anymore, hence no name or photo.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 03, 2014 6:20 AM GMT
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 03, 2014 7:13 AM GMT
    Jesus, the scene with Lawrence Monoson as the dying soldier looking out at the cemetery is almost too much to take. It's a movie where even the little cameo roles are perfectly played.

    This should be required viewing for anyone who's ever thought or said that gays had it coming to them.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 03, 2014 12:33 PM GMT
    And an amazing discovery years later in the US. An early teens boy died a mysterious death around 1969 in St Louis - so bizarre the hospital saved some tissue samples etc from him. Fast forward to 1987 and someone linked the two - yes, AIDS. Somewhere I read he was promiscious but who would think in the heartland in 1969 and at that age? I also recall reading Rep. Waxman's hearings compilation on the disease in Sept 1982 and realizing that night that if this was the transmission venue of the virus - there was nothing to prevent it from going hetero. And I knew then it was a time bomb - people not knowing they had it and spreading it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 03, 2014 5:10 PM GMT
    Radiolab podcast: "AIDS entered the United States around 1966"

    Radiolab podcast: "1908, that is when it started in human beings."