AIDS/HIV

"How To Survive a Plague" in San Francisco

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BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

While we all stand in solidarity with those recovering from Hurricane Sandy, important things are happening elsewhere. For example, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF), the country's largest AIDS services organization, is having a special screening of the powerful documentary, How to Survive a Plague, on Worlds AIDS Day, December 1, 2012.

If live in the San Francisco area, or plan to be there on December 1, hurry and get your tickets here.

Neil Giuliano -- SFAF Chief Executive Officer; former mayor of Tempe, AZ; and author of the exceedingly popular memoir, The Campaign Within -- called the film "powerful and important." A.O Scott of the New York Times called it a "moving and meticulous documentary about AIDS activism in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s." I was blown away by its raw emotion, technical precision, and relevance to today's battle for the freedom to marry:

It's a film worth seeing not only for its stark reminder of the sense of anger, despair, and urgency at the time, but as an inspiring story of unity, community, and love. No matter your age, your HIV-status, gender, or political involvement, How to Survive will make you cry; but the film's final scenes may be most rewarding few minutes you spend in a theatre this year. It is, after all, a story about hope, not death, life, not sorrow. It is the story of surviving the AIDS crisis. And, even as we mourn those vibrant young people AIDS took from us, we are so grateful that so many did survive and are, to this day, a part of us.

James Loduca, Vice President for Public Affairs at SFAF, adds: "December 1 is a time to remember, reflect and reengage in the fight against HIV/AIDS. I can think of no better way to do all three than by seeing the critically acclaimed How to Survive a Plague. This World AIDS Day, we are proud to be hosting a screening of David France's powerful film at the historic Castro Theatre. Spread the word!"

The official flier is AFTER THE JUMP.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for the information. I got tickets, but I wish they were charging some nominal fee. Nothing here is free! Of course I made a donation, but still.

    Posted by: Paul R | Oct 30, 2012 5:52:28 PM


  2. How to survive a plague? How about following the same common-sense instructions used to avoid the dangers of Hurricane Sandy? In other words, evacuate.

    Evacuate the dark and sleazy bath-houses. Evacuate the grimy and promiscuous bars and clubs. Evacuate the overall grubby and unrelenting promiscuity of this West Coast hell-hole. If evacuation can save lives in the face of Sandy, I don't see why it can't save lives in the face of a permissive San Francisco.

    Hurricane Sleaze can be just as devastating as what has happened on the East Coast. Wearing a rain-coat will only get you so far.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 30, 2012 6:00:31 PM


  3. Jason, you've shown your stupidity before, but this is an all-out assault on logic and basic human decency. If there are any, the people in your life must pity you.

    Posted by: Mikey | Oct 30, 2012 6:09:18 PM


  4. Mikey,

    What's more decent than advising people as to how to avoid an illness? If you know any better, send me a message.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 30, 2012 6:42:36 PM


  5. Mikey, I concur. Jason, I knew many people that died in that "Hell-hole", and each and everyone of them had more compassion, courage, conviction and sense of brothership with their fellow Gay men than you will ever have in your twit-brained little world. Think before you open that slanderous fetid maw of yours...or better yet just evacuate and leave the rest of us in peace.

    Posted by: Booka | Oct 30, 2012 7:42:19 PM


  6. Booka, I'm into saving lives. What are you into?

    Posted by: jason | Oct 30, 2012 8:03:59 PM


  7. OK, so it's official that the people responding to Jason have become nearly as annoying as he is. Do you think you're getting anywhere?

    Posted by: Paul R | Oct 30, 2012 8:05:25 PM


  8. I lived in San Francisco from 1981 to 2001. Avoidance was not a feasible response when people you knew and cared about (and in some cases had slept with) sickened and died in short order. It was years into the plague before HIV testing made it even possible to create an "us vs. them" attitude.

    I recall my first hospital visit. After chatting with my partner's friend, I went into the bathroom and scrubbed my hands with a thoroughness that Lady Macbeth would have envied.

    I remember too taking a friend from Hospice over to Castro Street for lunch, navigating his wheelchair over the uneven pavement and being made conscious of the steps we had to get by in the restaurant.

    It was a dramatic era, and those of us who lived through it will have some noble memories and some very base ones. I'd like to say that we did the best we could with the light we had to see by.

    Posted by: Rich | Oct 30, 2012 8:07:22 PM


  9. San Francisco has a promiscuous culture which I abhor. Guess the bath-house owners need to make their money somehow....

    Posted by: jason | Oct 30, 2012 8:47:14 PM


  10. Although I guess I shouldn't act all noble by not being promiscuous, myself. After all, there's nothing to be noble about when the truth is I've never had the opportunity to get laid.

    I'm pretty ugly, even by internet troll standards.

    Posted by: jason | Oct 30, 2012 8:59:55 PM


  11. My husband & I watched this the other night. It was a very well done and moving documentary. For those of you with Comcast "On Demand" pay per view cable television it is available to watch at home.

    Posted by: Dearcomrade | Oct 30, 2012 9:29:27 PM


  12. "We Were Here" A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years of this unimaginable crisis is another great documentary. It was released in 2011 and now available on Netflix streaming & DVD.

    Posted by: Dearcomrade | Oct 30, 2012 9:37:02 PM


  13. Finally Jason is getting the "Fake Rick" treatment he deserves.

    Posted by: MateoM | Oct 30, 2012 10:49:26 PM


  14. "How To Survive A Plague" is one of 2012's must-see films. The rare footage of ACT-UP militancy had me cheering the activists and quietly giving the finger to Jesse Helms whenever he appeared onscreen. Hey SF readers, get your tickets now!

    Posted by: Peter | Oct 30, 2012 11:12:27 PM


  15. Survival is not enough.

    I want to see gay men thriving and happy regardless of their marital status.

    A cure is long overdue.

    Posted by: Mark | Oct 31, 2012 9:16:29 AM


  16. Jason, Ignorance and hatred, especially self hatred are really ugly traits, girl get some help.

    Posted by: John Normile | Oct 31, 2012 12:07:41 PM


  17. @RICH, I love you for writing what you did.

    Sometimes, it's hard to even think of how chaotic it was in those early years of the epidemic.

    Beloved friends, brunch buddies, club pals, all falling ill, one-by-one, some dying quickly, some dying agonizingly slow. Not knowing what to do or how to do it.

    Going into hospital rooms and finding friends covered in vomit and mucus and lying in their own feces and urine, and no nurses aides coming by, even when going out to the main desk and demanding help. So, it was grabbing latex gloves and a gown and putting them on and going into the room and doing it ourselves.

    It was visiting guys who were in Bellevue Hospital in common wards because they had no health insurance, surrounded by bureaucratic indifference and fear from the medical staffs--lots and lots of fear. Quite a few of those guys died in Bellevue, completely rejected by their families, later to be buried in unmarked graves in NYC potters' field. The only evidence that they had lived were the memories tucked away in one's heart.

    High upon a shelf in the hallway closet is a cardboard box filled with mementos of some of those friends and the good times we had shared together.

    It has gathered dust up there, out of sight but not always out of mind. The last time I took it down was a couple of years ago, on the anniversary of the death of my best friend and mentor, a man whose life was simply a marvel of the beauty of unconditional love.

    Contained within are things that perhaps have meaning only to me: a ticket stub and program to the Metropolitan Opera's production by Franco Zefirelli of La Boheme; a program and invite to La Mama Theatre's initial production of what would become the brilliant Torch Song Trilogy by Harvey Fierstein; Studio 54 New Year's invites; membership passes for Flamingo, Paradise Garage, 12West, The Saint. Cards, letters, photos and postcards documenting holidays, birthdays, parties, trips abroad and just general silliness. And, several badges and flyers from ACTUP with the now iconic "Silence=Death".

    The memories are sweet but the grief, unfortunately, is still painfully present. These were the men that one assumed one would grow into middle age and then retirement with. Of course, it would be expected that a few might fall by the wayside as we traveled in life together for that's how life is.

    But, never did one expect that an entire swath of good and decent men would be obliterated by that damned virus and, even worse, their suffering ignored by the establishment powers that be.

    This documentary must be seen because it is the record of a community who screamed: "Enough goddamit! ENOUGH! If you won't help us then by god we will get in your goddam faces, shut down your goddam venues of commerce, disrupt your goddam masses, block your goddam traffic, stand on the steps of your goddam Capitol buildings until you DO something to help these men and women and children who are suffering and dying."

    This documentary must be seen to understand how we got to this more benign place with our focus on marriage and civil equality and standing up courageously (most times) to those remnants of institutional bigotry (again, mostly orthodox, evangelical, fundamentalist christians with that smattering of the lazy ignorance of uninformed people).

    Forgive me for writing at such length. It is now the 24th anniversary of the death of my friend whom I still miss so very much. As always, I shall light a candle in the quiet of the early morning and I will take the brass bell that he used during his meditation sessions (he was a devoted Buddhist) and I will gently ring that bell and say his name and tell him I still love and miss him and perhaps apologize for having nearly lost faith in most things spiritual. Harsh realities sometimes have a way of doing that to a man.

    And, I will also recite the names of all those men I once knew but still remember with love and who I will always hold dear in my heart. It seems that these days, it is about all that is left that I can do since, of course, one had to move on and continue with the task of living in this material world.

    I just hope--in the mad, ruthless chaos of this Universe, should there actually be something such as souls or spirits--that the vibration of my voice and the love with which I say all of their names might reach them and let them know they are forever remembered and very sorely missed.

    Posted by: MikeInQueens | Oct 31, 2012 12:32:29 PM


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