In the age of PrEP, decades after the advent of the AIDS crisis, it's easy for millennials to shrug off the trauma our community endured as their world slowly fell apart. Despite shows like Pose recreating the fear and grief of watching your loved ones succumb to a disease the government won't even acknowledge, the younger generations of queer people can never really understand what it was like to live it.
America's Test Kitchen editor Tucker Shaw posted a thread on twitter after overhearing a young couple talking about AIDS "in a scholarly way," saying it had "galvanized the gay community" and "paved the way to make things better, in the long run."
"Maybe he's right. I don't know. It's not the first time I've heard the theory. He spoke with clarity and with confidence. Youthful, full of conviction. But," wrote Shaw. "Remember how terrible it was, not that long ago, during the worst times. How many beautiful friends died. One after the other. Brutally. Restlessly. Brittle and damp. In cold rooms with hot lights. Remember?"
"Some nights, you'd sneak in to that hospital downtown after visiting hours, just to see who was around. It wasn't hard," wrote Shaw. "You'd bring a boom box. Fresh gossip. Trashy magazines and cheap paperbacks. Hash brownies. Anything. Nothing. You'd get kicked out, but you'd sneak back in. Kicked out again. Back in again. Sometimes you'd recognize a friend. Sometimes you wouldn't."
"Other nights, you'd go out to dance and drink. A different distraction. You'd see a face in the dark, in the back of the bar. Is it you? Old friend! No. Not him. Just a ghost," Shaw continued. "One day you'd get lucky and meet someone lovely. You'd feel happy, optimistic. You'd make plans. Together, you'd keep a list of names in a notebook you bought for thirty cents in Chinatown so you could remember who was still here and who wasn't, because it was so easy to forget. But there were so many names to write down. Too many names. Names you didn't want to write down. When he finally had to go too, you got rid of the notebook. No more names."
"The long run," Shaw concludes. "Wasn't that long ago."
Read Shaw's thread in its entirety here.