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A Moving Post on the Impact of 1980s AIDS Epidemic on LGBTQ Community is Breaking the Internet's Heart

A depressing story of living as a gay man in the times of the AIDS epidemic.

Parth Sharma | News18.com

Updated:September 20, 2018, 5:15 PM IST
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A Moving Post on the Impact of 1980s AIDS Epidemic on LGBTQ Community is Breaking the Internet's Heart
A student displays his hands painted with messages on HIV (Photo: Reuters)

There exists a widely accepted theory that HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) originated in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1920s. But it wasn't until September 1982 that the term AIDS was officially used to describe the disease. It is believed, however, that the epidemic had begun in mid-1970s itself, with the virus spreading out to North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Australia by 1980 and infecting an estimated 1,00,000-3,00,000 people.

Until June 1982, AIDS was referred to as GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) and it wasn't until January 1983 that proof of the disease spreading through heterosexual intercourse was established. Regardless of it all, AIDS has been interpreted as a 'gay disease' for decades, with several homophobic men and women using the disease as an excuse to intimidate the society against the LGBTQ community.

Waging a war against the homophobia or AIDS has not been easy or the LGBTQ community. Living in a society that considers them as 'unnatural', the community often finds it difficult to fully access medical facilities. And while the 'woke' millennials of 2018 sip on their latte and post every nonsensical update on social media, there continues to exist an unspoken fear of AIDS.

However, recent years have seen a growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community in society and mainstream media and discussion in terms of their rights and needs. And it has taken a an epidemic and a long, long ladder to get here.

Though there has been progress, the history of the LGBTQ movement has been riddled with many struggles. In order to acknowledge current progress,  it is important to remember the tough past which the LGBTQ community endured during the primary years of the AIDS epidemic.

Highlighting the story of this troubled time is Twitter user, Tucker Shaw, whose Twitter thread on the painful history of the disease especially among the LGBTQ community is giving the internet heartache.

In the thread, Shaw starts off with a story about overhearing a conversation about AIDS between two college-going students. they were saying how the AIDS epidemic awakened a morning of change in the gay community, paving to make things better in the long run.

But Shaw remains dubious about the 'long run', and the cost of the awakening. In the post, he writes that while the AIDS epidemic may helped galvanise the LGBTQ rights movement, the community has had to face the worst form of the disease, with many of them dying cruel deaths in hospital beds.

Shaw talks about the days when he snuck into hospital ward rooms to meet his friends with a boom box, trashy magazines and gossip, sometimes even nothing. Shaw recalls going to dance clubs and thinking he saw a friendly face only to realise later on that the friend had already passed away.

Shaw talks about him and his partner keeping a diary where they would jot down the names of friends who were still alive and those who were not, but often realising that it was too painful to write down the names. When Shaw's partner died from AIDS, he stopped writing down the names. There seemed no point to anything after his partner's death.

Shaw talks about coping up with his partner's death and moving on in life only to find himself at the receiving end of news of more friends dying from AIDS. He ends his thread with, "The long run. Wasn’t that long ago."

Read the heartbreaking thread here:

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