Skip to main content

If you were born after 1975, your memories of Ryan White, what he faced, did, and represented may be hazy at best. Since his name has come up lately in regards to the rules of the ACA it seemed a good time to look back and see how far we have come since Ryan was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984.

In December, 1984, few people were familiar with AIDS as anything other than a disease of gay men. Ryan White, a fourteen year-old patient with Hemophilia A, was diagnosed with AIDS in December of 1984, when he was hospitalized for lung surgery. Although it is unknown exactly when he contracted the virus, it is likely that the source of his infection was through a transfusion of Factor VIII, a blood product created from the pooled plasma of non-hemophiliacs and, in those days, commonly used to treat patients with Hemophilia A.

After he started feeling better, Ryan wanted to return to school in Kokomo, Indiana, but was not allowed to do so, after some parents and, shamefully, some teachers, protested his presence. The family sued, the court ruled in Ryan's favor and ordered the school to re-admit him. Although admitted back into the school, the cruelty and ostracism continued, culminating in a bullet being fired into the Whites' home. The family moved to Cicero, Indiana, where an educational program led by one of the students, Jill Stuart, made Ryan feel welcome. He attended high school, made friends, got a part time job, and even had a date for his senior prom.

Beginning with the trial, Ryan reluctantly became a media figure, often saying he would trade the fame gladly to be rid of the disease. By his mere existence and willingness to fight for his education and the right to be treated as a normal human being, he forced the American people to examine their attitudes about HIV/AIDS. He disliked being referred to as an "innocent victim" because he felt that suggested that others were somehow "guilty victims."

White participated in numerous public benefits for children with AIDS. Many celebrities appeared with White, starting during his trial and continuing for the rest of his life, to help publicly destigmatize socializing with people with AIDS. Singers John Cougar Mellencamp, Elton John and Michael Jackson, actor Matt Frewer, diver Greg Louganis, President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan, Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop, Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight and basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar all befriended White. 


In a 1993 interview, prominent gay rights and AIDS activist Larry Kramer said, "I think little Ryan White probably did more to change the face of this illness and to move people than anyone. And he continues to be a presence through his mom, Jeanne White."


He passed away on April 8, 1990 at the age of 18.

His impact did not end with his death and the federal program, created as a payor of last resort for HIV/AIDS patients, was named in his honor. The Ryan White CARE (Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency) Act, now known as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, is not a charity. It is a federal program created during a time in which we believed that government could act as a force for good. Yes, boys and girls, there was such a time. Follow me below the fold for a glimpse of that bygone era.

Not all things in that era were good and there was quite a bit that we were glad to see go. There was no widespread access to the internet in those days, there was no Fox News, so truth actually had a chance to be heard.

Early in 1986, I had to research the AIDS virus the old fashioned way: in a library with books (not much info there at that point), magazines, newspapers and microfilm. But it was not hard to learn enough to know that the fears of the the folks in Kokomo were completely unfounded. And to suspect the motives of those who called for a quarantine of AIDS patients.

There were people who seriously called for such a quarantine. Easy to forget today, but it was a big deal at the time. The LaRouche crazies got it on the ballot in California, twice (defeated both times, showing that even in California we occasionally surrender to reason). Mike Huckabee was also in favor of locking them all up:

"It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."

Mike Huckabee 1992

A 1985 poll by the Los Angeles Times revealed that over half of those surveyed, 51%, wanted a quarantine for those found to have AIDS. Just under half, 48% wanted ID cards for those who carried the antibodies. The fringe, at 15%, wanted tattoos. (I am not going to go Godwin here, but you can see how easy it would be.)

A whopping 77% wanted to criminalize blood donations by homosexuals or others at "high risk for AIDS." For that matter, 51% wanted to make sex a crime if engaged in by someone with AIDS.

(If my memory serves me correctly, it seems that the folks who were cheering a concentration camp for gays are the same ones who swore that FEMA was setting up camps for their followers after 2009. Little projection there, ya' think?.)

It was a heartbreakingly bad time to be gay. Too many men were dying. With little to no legal protection against job or housing discrimination, and an administration determined to ignore the disease that was ravaging the community, ACT UP sprang into being in March of 1987. It changed everything.  

That was 25 years ago this month, and so much has happened since then, all of it stemming from that one electric moment. ACT UP revolutionized everything from the way drugs are researched to the way doctors interact with patients. Ultimately it played a key role in catalyzing the development of the drugs that since 1996 have helped keep patients alive for a near-normal life span. Act Up also redrew the blueprint for activism in a media-saturated world, providing inspiration for actions like Occupy Wall Street.

David France
New York Magazine
March 25, 2012
ACT UP was radical. Its actions were shocking. And effective. Unlike right-wing terrorists who assembled at a ranch in Nevada with their pop guns, these men and women acted in defiance of authority without so much as a pocket knife. That is a demonstration of courage that the gun-toters can only dream of.

But I don't really want to get side-tracked (although it is hard not to, I mean, once they even closed down the FDA! Just an amazing group of activists). The main point is that in the 1980s, as a nation, we were ill-informed and we treated AIDS patients with unbelievable cruelty. That has changed in a big way. Not only are there now therapies that can extend a patient's lifetime to near normal lengths, but we no longer see it as the act of a wrathful God against those people who would dare to love, with the possible exception, since Fred Phelps is dead, of Pat Robertson. And we have a federal program in place to ensure that they get the medical care and assistance that they need.

How that legislation came into being is another example of how different our world has become.

Support for passage was broad, but it did not come without a struggle, especially when the bills came to the floor. A few members opposed increasing the Federal investment in HIV/AIDS, arguing that other diseases affected more people and at greater cost to the Nation. Most of the debate, however, focused on hot-button topics—-partner notification, blood donation, and providing bleach to drug users to clean their needles. The final amendments passed were largely compromises written or supported by the bills’ authors.
A Living History, HRSA
Notice that none of the opposition was based on a refusal to allow the majority party its right to govern. The objections were reasonable, meaning that reasonable people could reach a compromise. They did. Even Jesse Helms, who adamantly opposed the bill, knew that it would pass. No filibuster was even hinted at, nor did any delaying tactics occur.

The Senate Bill, S. 2240 was brought to the floor on May 11, 1990. After two days of debate and amendments, the bill was passed on May 16th with 95 Senators voting Aye and 4 voting Nay.

A month later, on June 13, 1990, the House passed their bill, H.R. 4785 with 408 Ayes to 14 Nays.

You may want to take a moment and read those last two sentences again. Savor them this time. I will wait.

Congress acted on behalf of the American people. They debated, amended and passed a bill. Just like the founders envisioned. Yes, boys and girls, we once had a democracy that worked.

Really, we did.

From the Health & Human Services website:

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is the largest Federal program focused exclusively on HIV/AIDS care. The program is for individuals living with HIV/AIDS who have no health insurance (public or private), have insufficient health care coverage, or lack financial resources to get the care they need for their HIV disease. As such, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program fills gaps in care not covered by other funding sources.

The legislation is called the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-87, October 30, 2009). The legislation was first enacted in 1990 as the Ryan White CARE (Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency) Act. It has been amended and reauthorized four times: in 1996, 2000, 2006, and 2009. The Ryan White legislation has been adjusted with each reauthorization to accommodate new and emerging needs, such as an increased emphasis on funding of core medical services and changes in funding formulas.

It was a time when ignorance was not a vocation and could be cured with the simple application of knowledge. When facts were objective things that all agreed were real. When the business of television was informing the public instead of persuading it. It was a time when our government functioned, when well meaning men and women served the interests of the nation and not the politics of the super wealthy.

It was such a time.

Since then, we have come a very long way. We now recognize that HIV/AIDS is a medical, not a moral, issue. We have come so far from those days of the 1980s, that today, half of all Americans believe that marriage equality is guaranteed by the Constitution.

Politically, we have also travelled a great distance. Sadly, it has been in the wrong direction. There was a time when we had leaders who fought for ideals that weren't just progressive, they were American. Today we have too many office holders who fight for camera time instead. Who are not interested in winning a legislative victory, but only in insuring a loss for the other side. Because they don't believe in government, they have done all they can to destroy it.


Time it was,
And what a time it was
It was . . .
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago . . . it must be . . .
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you

Simon & Garfunkel

While googling all of this stuff, I came across the news that HBO will broadcast Normal Heart starring Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Julia Roberts. Believing that there is no such thing as coincidence I have included the information and the trailer.
Directed by Emmy® winner Ryan Murphy and written by Academy Award® nominee Larry Kramer, adapting his groundbreaking Tony Award-winning play of the same name, the drama tells the story of the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s, taking an unflinching look at the nation’s sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fight to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city and nation in denial. THE NORMAL HEART will debut on HBO on May 25 at 9 p.m.

Ruffalo portrays Ned Weeks, who witnesses first-hand a mysterious disease that has begun to claim the lives of many in his gay community and starts to seek answers. Matt Bomer plays Felix Turner, a reporter who becomes Ned’s lover. Taylor Kitsch plays Bruce Niles, a closeted investment banker who becomes a prominent AIDS activist. Jim Parsons plays gay activist Tommy Boatwright, reprising his role from the 2011 Broadway revival. Roberts plays physician Dr. Emma Brookner, a survivor of childhood polio who treats several of the earliest victims of HIV-AIDS.

Kramer’s play debuted at New York’s Public Theatre in 1985 and was revived in Los Angeles and London, and off-Broadway. The 2011 Broadway revival garnered five Tony nominations, winning for Best Revival, Best Featured Actor and Best Featured Actress.



Originally posted to Susan Grigsby on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 11:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by HIV AIDS Action.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent diary (18+ / 0-)

    I  wrote my article for  my law  school law review on "AIDS and the Quarantine Statutes"  and it was published in 1986, but in order to publish it I had to present my work and research to a special panel of judges who oversaw  the work of the law review.

    I convinced them that we needed to deal with AIDS and the  quarantine statutes since it was much in the news at the time. They never were used because all the fear mongerers were wrong about its ease of communication. It was not like polio and 19th century techniques would not contain it. The research thankfully was coming fast and furious  - not just from the US but France and all over the world.

    People do not remember how bad it  was  - great diary. One of our very own kossacks was a major mover in ACT Up, but unless he speaks up himself I  am hesitant to name him.

    Thanks for the diary. Poor Ryan White...

    Blessed are the hearts that can bend; for they can never be broken Albert Camus

    by vcmvo2 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 12:44:02 PM PDT

  •  Ryan White wasn't all good. (16+ / 0-)

    One of the things we tend to forget is that it was the original Ryan White legislation that spawned the criminalization of nondisclosure of HIV status.  To comply with the law's requirements, states enacted punitive criminal laws to punish people with HIV who failed to disclose their status to their partners.  In many, if not most, states, mitigating factors such as lack of transmission, condom use, and viral load suppression are irrelevant to liability.

    As a person with HIV, I greatly appreciate the Ryan White programs.  I have friends who are alive today only because of them.  But I think we need to remember that the original legislation did a lot of harm in terms of creating HIV panic and stigma.

    The passage of the law is a testament to Ted Kennedy's legislative skills.  It wouldn't have been possible without his carefully cultivated relationship with Orrin Hatch or his clever tactical decision to make a teenage hemophiliac from Indiana the face of AIDS.  (Apparently, this is what persuaded Dan Coates to support the law.)  

    As a gay man, I think it'd have been nice if such maneuvers hadn't been necessary.  It'd have been wonderful to see Congress acting because they thought the lives of gay men actually mattered.  But in politics, you do what you have to do to accomplish the desired result.  If it took putting the face of an "innocent" victim of AIDS on the legislation to get it to pass, I guess I can't complain too much.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 12:47:46 PM PDT

    •  I don't think any legislation is 100% good, altho' (10+ / 0-)

      it can be 100% bad. I had forgotten about the disclosure requirements. Of course, the public opinion in those days wanted even more punitive actions.

      Ted Kennedy was a master at legislating things like this. He is sorely missed. Henry Waxman fought hard to expand Medicaid to cover HIV treatment before the onset of AIDS, unsuccessfully. Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer (both in the House at the time) also fought hard for the Bill's passage.

      What is amazing, in retrospect, was that we had a functioning legislative body at all. Can you imagine what the results would have been had the epidemic occurred during today's political climate?

      •  While this is certainly true: (11+ / 0-)
        Of course, the public opinion in those days wanted even more punitive actions.
        The problem is that those of us with HIV are still living with the consequences of such AIDS paranoia today.  This is true despite the mounting scientific evidence that, at least for those HIV+ people who are on effective ARV treatment, transmission is almost impossible even when sex is unprotected.  

        Beyond that, such laws actually discourage people from knowing their status, because a person who is undiagnosed incurs no liability.  From the perspective of these statutes, ignorance of HIV status is bliss, or at least a get-out-of-jail-free card.  Which is obviously not a good thing from the perspective of public health.

        I bring all of this up because we need to keep in mind just how much homophobia and our Victorian attitudes about sex have impeded our public health response to this epidemic.  Federal law still prohibits the use of federal funds for any HIV prevention education that might be construed as promoting sexual activity (a prohibition successfully included by Jesse Helms).  Of couse, homophobia isn't all that's at work.  Our contempt for science plays a role too.  For example, despite their demonstrable success, after a brief reprieve, federal law again prohibits funding for needle exchange programs.

        The aforementioned restrictions were all passed by that same "functional legislative body" you're talking about.  So while I'm quite happy with many aspects of Ryan White, we need to be very careful not to ignore some of the harm it and other federal laws regarding HIV have done.

        "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

        by FogCityJohn on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 01:51:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My nephew Carl (20+ / 0-)

    My nephew Carl was born in March 1976.  At about 6 months he was diagnosed with Hemophilia just as Ryan was.  He also needed transfusions.  In the fall of 1981 Carl ran into a wall and after several days of headaches my sister took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a blood clot on his brain and immediately had emergency surgery.  A few months before that he had also been hospitalized for bleeding in his lungs.  In 1987 he was diagnosed with HIV/Aids.

    We don't know which of these incidents caused him to get HIV/Aids but it really doesn't matter.  In October 1988 8 months after his beloved grandfather passed away, Carl became very ill.  My sister had moved to  Los Angels where he was supposed to enter a program for expermental treatments of HIV/Aids, but he became too ill to do so.  Knowing that he didn't have long, they moved back to Brooklyn to be close to family and friends.  He wouldn't go to school and had a tutor, this was his decision, not the schools but his friends still visited him and we didn't see much change in the attitudes of people with the exception of my other sister's husband who at first didn't want his kids in the same room as Carl but eventually backed off on that when my sister told him F.U.  

    Carl passed away in May 1989, the Church was packed with his classmates, their families, our family and friends the "Wind Beneath My Wings" was sung by his fellow students.  The Catholic School he went to graduated him and we set up a yearly graduation award in his memory.  Carl loved his family, computers (which were just taking off), his friends and baseball (The NY Mets).

    I can go on and on about my Godchild/Nephew, and have beautiful memories of him.  I wish his life hadn't been cut short at the age of 13, he had so much to offer the world, as they all did.

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011) Voting is a louder voice than a bullhorn but sometimes you need that bullhorn to retain your vote.

    by Rosalie907 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 12:54:01 PM PDT

  •  Wonderful, wonderful diary. (7+ / 0-)

    Thank you for writing it.

    I would only advise caution in that it's easy to halcyonize those times - and not totally without reason, as the passage of S.2240 and H.R.4785 illustrate - but there was definitely still a lot of insane hatred and ostracism.

    I'm not sure any good time is ever as good as we remember it.

    Still, overall, wonderful piece and my viewpoint is trivial in comparison to the overall good.

    Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

    by Jon Sitzman on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 12:58:33 PM PDT

    •  It was the dichotomy of the era, in retrospect, (7+ / 0-)

      that interested me. On the one hand we had this rampant fear and hate based on very little accurate scientific knowledge and on the other, we had a Congress that could and did function, when pressured to do so.

      It seems that today we still have hatred and fear, but we have no government willing to stand between those who hate and those who are hated.

      •  We still have the same base society these (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Susan from 29

        days on many topics.  But the Congress has become base as well.  We no longer have a functioning Congress.  

        That is by design of the funders of the Tea Party, mainly.  

        Meaning that a very few, very wealthy men have decided that we are not to have a Congress which can address any issue of our day.  They literally have ground the country to a halt.

        In some ways that is actually a very good thing.  The president's desire to use chained CPI would have been implemented by now, as well as other means of "shared sacrifice."  Sacrifice by the poor. That's a good one.

        In other ways, it is a horrible thing. Climate Change is going to hit everyone. And as the NY Times warns us, we've got years, not decades, to act decisively.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 01:45:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Heh. (13+ / 0-)

    Okay, full disclosure: I'm with ACT UP New York. That site you're linking to is, how do I phrase this, our historical legacy site. The man who runs it, James, is a lovely human being, I cherish him, but HTML is not his strongest suit. Killer photographer, amazing videography, but we all have areas of less mastery.

    So ACT UP is building a new site. Give me two months or so, it'll be amazeballs :-)

    Larry Kramer by the way – just saw him two weeks ago – is doing rather nicely, currently recovering from something or other, surrounded by the people he loves and still filled with as much Larry-Kramerness as one would imagine.

    And I'll see to it that he reads this, he'll be tickled pink :-)

    Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

    by MBNYC on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 01:21:07 PM PDT

  •  I manage Ryan White funded programs (8+ / 0-)

    The good this program does is immeasurable.

    Thanks for this diary!

    Imagine the most profound idea ever conceptualized occupying this space. Now expect exactly the opposite. You'll never be disappointed.

    by Gurnt on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 01:29:32 PM PDT

  •  tipped and recommended... (5+ / 0-)

    thanks for a diary that covers an important part of my life.

  •  fear & ignorance is a lethal combination (8+ / 0-)

    I remember Ryan White and what a brave young man he was....

    The word 'politics' is derived from the word 'poly', meaning 'many', and the word 'ticks', meaning 'blood sucking parasites'. ~ Larry Hardiman

    by shel3364 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 01:39:23 PM PDT

  •  Ryan White's story caught my heart (5+ / 0-)

    I saw his photo in Time magazine in 1984. He looked like my own sons. I wrote to his family from time to time, sending money and relaying little snippets of news about my boys and our puppy. Mrs. White answered my letters with postcards, so nice of her when she was likely overwhelmed by receiving mail from all over the world.

    I also wrote to the principal of the high school that banned Ryan White from attending. I pointed out that Ryan would never know what it was like to pack up his car on a September afternoon and drive off to college; that he would never know the joy of a wedding day or the birth of a son or daughter.

    Well, I hardly suppose my letter was the turning point, but shortly after that the principal changed his mind about Ryan's attending the high school, saying, "I never saw a boy so anxious to go to school before."

    I've never forgotten Ryan White nor his mother Jeanne. Thank you for this poignant diary, Susan from 29. I'm glad Ryan and his struggle are still remembered.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 01:52:11 PM PDT

  •  I'm old enough to remember Ryan White (4+ / 0-)

    What a remarkable young man he was. I once met his mother, quite briefly.

    Thank you for this diary Susan. I appreciate how you took the chronology of the passage of the Ryan White CARE Act and used it to remind us that there was a time when Congress was capable of (mostly) constructive action.

    I turned 30 in 1981, the year in which "The Normal Heart" begins. I suppose you could say I've been around for it all. I don't know if I will ever completely get past the pain and the anger that surrounded the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

    •  I lived in San Francisco until the fall of 1979 (4+ / 0-)

      and still remember the friends that later lost their lives in the early days of the epidemic. It seemed that so many men just disappeared. I left before the disease manifested itself and missed seeing them as they became sicker, only holding onto the memories of them in healthier days. Memories of dinner parties, of trips to the wine country or Stinson Beach. And then so many of them were just gone.

      But they came to mind every time I heard the ignorant hate speech. My husband had an aunt who once asked me if I wasn't afraid to use the laundry machines at an RV park because of AIDS. Admittedly, we were in Oklahoma where ignorance was a virtue, but I thought about how that very ignorance was hurting the search for a cure, or at least for a treatment. I told her I thought that it would be a very uncomfortable place to contract the virus. She was 75 at the time and I am not sure that she even understood my point.

      The hate and fear are not all gone, but once we were able to push all of that aside for long enough to take some federal action to help.

      •  I didn't move here until 1986 (4+ / 0-)

        Just prior to the "official start" of the AIDS epidemic I moved from New York to DC. My life changed a great deal in the course of that move. I was somewhat isolated in New York; by contrast, after moving I soon developed a fairly healthy social life. Perhaps 90% of the people I knew when I lived in DC died from AIDS (including the partner I was with during most of my six years there). The same can be said of my early years in San Francisco. I see so many ghosts. The only way to deal with that is to continue to form new friendships.

        On or topic...I'm not sure of my DC friends was both gay and hemophiliac. Needless to say he did not survive. Back in 1996 I was a volunteer at the AIDS Quilt display on the National Mall. I found a panel with his name on it along with a panel for one of my New York friends and one for the person I had assumed...apparently mistakenly it now seems...had infected me. It is interesting; I bear absolutely no malice towards the people from whom I may or may not have contracted HIV. The only malice I carry is towards those who used the AIDS epidemic as an excuse to demonize the gay community.

  •  Ryan (3+ / 0-)

    his name still tears my guts out

    It was seeing cases like his, and hearing about so many others who got turned out, turned away.... that's why the 2 things I raise money for are the local AIDS Walk and AIDS Ride. They don't raise money for research. They raise money for help, for people, right now. Food. Rides to appointments. Housing vouchers. Dental care. And home cooked meals for hospice patients.

    I'm glad that no one gets as publicly pushed away as Ryan White did. But too many aren't getting the help they need.

  •  Thanks for this diary (3+ / 0-)

    recognizing Ryan White as other than some media-constructed passive victim "we could all identify with." Early in the AIDS crisis, he emphasized that all sufferers of the disease were "innocent."

    Those, even today, are some pretty big words.

    Tipped and recommended.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:03:11 PM PDT

  •  I went to a funeral (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susan from 29, FogCityJohn

    in about 1982 or '83 for someone who had died of a mysterious illness. No one quite knew what it was, only that someone who was clever and talented and brought joy into people's lives had suddenly and inexplicably sickened and died.

    He was the first of perhaps half a dozen or so I knew who died in New York in that decade, and several more in the '90s.

    And then there were all the public names, too. Oh, it was a time.

    Great Questions of Western Philosophy: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

    by Mnemosyne on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:16:37 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site