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I'm one of the women who was there and did my part in both AIDS activism and the nitty gritty of hands-on care for gay men with AIDS. There were lots of women involved - and whilst it is true that many were lesbians, many were not. This is particularly the case when we look at what happened over the long haul of the crisis rather than the early years.

I frankly have no idea of the sexual orientation of many of the women I knew who pitched in all sorts of ways and cared for gay men (and others with AIDS) over the long course of the AIDS crisis. Many were "ordinary" nurses, home health workers, neighbors, generous-hearted women of all kinds, ages and backgrounds who didn't announce their sexual orientation, nor did others ask. Coz most of us did not spend our times talking about our personal lives - we were too busy tending to the tasks at hand. And we knew what was happening to people with AIDS wasn't about us!

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Jan 26, 2021Liked by JL

Thank you for the recognition and a moving piece. My best friend died in June 2018, the cancer got him first but HIV was hot on the heels. I watched It's A Sin and can't pretend I was there at the beginning (I was still in the closet) so feel unqualified to comment on most details. With no disrespect to RT Davies, I did wonder where all the lesbians were in his portrayal, because I KNOW they were present, active and caring - from the beginning and throughout.

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Anyone else remember the TV movie And the Band Played On? I think it was based on a book. I recall it discussed the reality of the AIDS epidemic, and it hit me really hard at the time. For Jones' The Misogynist to try to compare transologists strugging to access women and children and strip women of their human rights with the struggle homosexuals went through to be treated as humans in the AIDS epidemic is frankly revolting.

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Very important movie based on the book by Randy Shilts, who went on to die of AIDS himself. Great performances by a stable of actors, Matthew Modine I recall the most, and lots of cameos by big-name stars from other fields, such as Phil Collins playing an owner of a gay bath house in SF angry that the city wanted to shut down such places to prevent.

Also very good is the movie of Larry Kramer's play "The Normal Heart." About events in NYC when/after the new virus - originally called "gay cancer" coz so many men developed Kaposi's sarcoma - first began felling gay men, and how it led to the founding of Gay Men's Health Crisis and later ACT UP - and all the infighting and battling the world this entailed.

By the way, in the crisis it quickly transpired that some people who developed AIDS were not gay men - they were hemophiliac boys and men who got HIV from infected plasma products, women who got tainted blood transfusions during/after childbirth, and the children of such women, IV drug users or both sexes. Moreover, some men who had sex with other men and got AIDS were bisexuals, and some - particularly black and Hispanic men - were actually gay but did not like to be called gay. GMHC expanded its services to help all these other groups - but never ever was there a call for them to stop calling themselves Gay Men's Health Crisis. It's still the name they use today, and AFAIK no one has ever complained that the name is "exclusionary."

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Jan 26, 2021Liked by Graham Linehan, JL

It was a grim time, but we had their backs, all the way. We loved them, cared for them and lost them.

It's A Sin brought it all back. I wept hard at home in my living room, but was glad to be reminded of the arguments we had, the shouldering, begging them to get tested, no one left behind or forgotten.

Our beautiful boys. I miss you still and didn't realise how much until now.

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I loved that series and noted early on how realistic it was that the (only) woman in their lives was the one who was going out of her way to research the virus and then the one who devoted herself to taking care of the ill people, even men she didn’t personally know.

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Wow - this is amazing. I am appalled at the comments of so many younger people who were not there, but think they are experts. Gay men and lesbians did not expect us to deny our own reality. The two are simply not comparable.

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I was there during the AIDS crisis I cannot claim to be one who nursed but I did visit gay men in hospital, in their homes and tried to comfort and reassure. Many lesbians were nurses, volunteers at the Lighthouse and in hospitals. It has never been acknowledged what lesbians did for those gay men. We have never had that kindness and help returned.

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Brilliant piece, thank you. Sent this video to James Dreyfus a while ago, it is a scene that has always stuck with me and resonates with this too: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mu4naXsKsys

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I don't always agree with Suzanne Moore's softly softly approach (yes I know she was booted from the Guardian, thanks, but still feel she has been far too mindful of transologist preference over reality based facts), but I really liked this tweet, a riposte to Jones' misogyny.

https://twitter.com/suzanne_moore/status/1353308951836839937

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Very beautifully written, a perfect summation of this. I consider myself 'fortunate' that at that time I 'only' lost one dear friend to AIDS. We were at college together and he kept his diagnosis secret to most people there. I can't remember how he told me but he did, and I didn't run away. He was such a lovely and very funny guy, and I miss him.

I watched all of 'It's a Sin' in one sitting and was instantly taken back to those days. I wasn't involved in his care at the end because he already had an amazing circle of friends, and one woman in particular, who were there for him.

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@Graham Linehan

Have you seen the thread about Owen Jones on MN? 😄

https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/4209740-Anyone-fancy-co-parenting-with-LOJ

For one so insistent on the TWAW mantra, I bet he knows the difference when looking for one to accept sperm to create a baby to coparent.

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