Movie Trailer of the Day: How To Survive A Plague is the story of the activists who stopped AIDS from becoming a death sentence:
This improbable group of activists bucked oppression and, with no scientific training, infiltrated government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, helping to identify promising new medication and treatments and move them through trials and into drugstores in record time. In the process, they saved their own lives and ended the darkest days of a veritable plague, while virtually emptying AIDS wards in American hospitals in the process.
The documentary is in theaters September 21.
This looks astounding and is important, and if I wasn’t supposed to be doing research write now I would write a couple sentences about how vital and necessary this is because among the many many horrible things about the AIDS epidemic, one of them is that it deprived the queer movement of the voices of the past, and severed potential connections to ‘our’ history. A sense of historical continuity in queer communities is and was always going to be difficult, by virtue of the fact that that continuity isn’t biological or reproductive, but to think that in the past fifteen or twenty years we’ve gone from a state of existential terror to a very different sort of political engagement (at least those queer folks who are UMC white men) is a testament to the successes of the activists captured in this documentary, but also the reason why it’s *so* incredibly important for us to see films like this.
I’m really really looking forward to seeing this.
ETA: Because I just wrote a big paper on federal AIDS strategy and not making this explicit borders on criminal. Also incredibly important because there are lots of ways in which AIDS is still invisibilized and PLHAs aren marginalized and not given access to what they need to survive. Canada’s slightly better than the US in terms of catastrophic drug coverage (I think) but our current government’s total failure to follow the most reason Federal Initiative has led to a complete lack of integration of AIDS strategy with other parts of gov’t policy that have significant impacts on the lives of PLHAs. So. Yeah. More advocacy now also, plz.
AIDS also shapes the overriding historical narratives, with which I admit I am only really familiar in relation to histories of disco, e.g. the ongoing conversation of Tim Lawrence, Alice Echols, et al. But, like, ideas of hedonism, utopia, race, etc. in the gay community—in New York City in particular but also in general—are all wound up in the outbreak of AIDS as “historical” moment but also as “moral” moment, and complicated by the “narrative” impulse.
Obviously this is a mess of ideas that I haven’t really successfully parsed yet, but it merits a lot more thought and analysis.