Sunday, June 5th, marks the 30th anniversary of the CDC first reporting the illness that would be later named AIDS. I moved to SF in the early 90’s when the epidemic still had a very obvious face here. Every week the Bay Area Reporter had pages of obituaries for those who had died the week before, mostly of AIDS. Those who were here before me report of a terrible time of loss and confusion. SF was an epi-center of the disease and those who were in one of the centers report losing numbers of friends that are just unimagineable.
In addition, there was a huge fight against a government that for years refused to say the disease’s name or allot resources towards finding a cure. The worst years of the epidemic were in a time when believing in gay marriage would have been thought to have been a sign of a hallucination. Gay people were even more routinely persecuted by the public and often times rejected by their families of origin. The community became central as it fulfulled the roles of family.
Times have changed in thirty years more then most of us could ever imagine. AIDS is becoming a chronic illness rather then a death sentence. For the first time ever polling is starting to show that the majority of Americans support marriage equality and most people know a LGBT person. However with progress can come complacency, far too many new infections of HIV happen ever year. Younger people don’t have the memories of the generation that passed away before them.
Those that were there and have survived hold the story that continues to need to be told. Because history forgotten, as we know, is doomed to repeat itself.
Please take the time today to remember all those that were lost and all those who still suffer from this illness.