AIDS Activism in San Francisco 1989

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‘Wresting with AIDS in San Francisco’ displays AIDS activism and provides a visual of how the LGBT community had to fight for the government to make an effort to bring forth sufficient healthcare. Many of the individuals recorded mention how being ignored proved that AIDS was seen as an ‘active genocide’ to exterminate the LGBT community. People with starkly different views on the issue are interviewed, some feeling that the activism is taking away from the seriousness of the subject while others feel that it is vital to getting recognized.


Mina Meyer’s Story


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Co-founder of AIDS Hospice Committee and AIDS Hospice Foundation, Mina Meyer and her wife Sharon Raphael were both influencial LGBT activists in Los Angeles. She saw that many AIDS patients were in need of a place to take care of them to live out their dying days, leading to the creation of the AIDS Hospice Foundation. Because the AIDS situation was not getting the attention it deserved from the government, Meyers and many other activists had to fight in order for the cause to get noticed. “We had to get the county supervisors to pay attention [to AIDS]. We had to get the powers that be to pay attention, and all the governmental folks to pay attention to us. We didn’t have any money. We had to get all the people to pay attention to us to be able to show the needs for all the people who had AIDS.”

Freddie Mercury’s Story

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Private about both his sexuality and ailment, Freddie Mercury was only 45 years old when he passed away in 1991. Unfortunately enough, his death occurred only a few months before an official treatment had been discovered for AIDS, his friends claiming that “they are sure he would have made it”. It has recently been discovered that before his death, he had lost a majority of his foot, and that there was not much of it left in the later stages of his life.

David Kirby’s Story

David Kirby on his deathbed, Ohio, 1990.

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David Kirby was an LGBT activist living in California during the 1980’s, before being diagnosed with AIDS. Although he had not been in contact with his family for many years, he chose to live out his remaining days in Ohio with his family. He had been taken care of in an AIDS hospice in Columbus, where Therese Frare snapped this heartbreaking photo of him with his family. He passed away in May 1990, but the photo was not released until that November.

New York Times’ Review of ‘The AIDS Show’

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Originating from a show performed in Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco, ‘The AIDS Show’ was a documentary released in 1986 that highlights the disease and its repercussions in San Francisco. Robert Epstein’s vision for his piece was to give an all-around view of the disease, from displaying nurses who judge gay men for contracting the disease (insinuating that they ‘deserved it’) to an undiagnosed man being teased by his friends about being so prone to illness, none of them knowing what he was actually suffering from.