Inspired by comparisons between the AIDS crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, noted gay historian Dr. Eric Cervini has launched an online LGBTQ+ book and film club for the quarantine, “Quarantini.”
“I figure this is the perfect opportunity to be looking backward, where we can take a moment, re-evaluate who we are as a community, and where we’ve come from,” Cervini said in his “Day 0” broadcast Tuesday, which attracted more than 15,000 viewers on Facebook and Instagram.
Cervini, a Harvard and Cambridge-trained historian of LGBTQ+ culture and politics, initially intended to launch a book club in Los Angeles this week. But when the group’s first meeting was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, he took his efforts online. He noted that the pandemic has prompted many physical queer cultural spaces, such as community centers and bars, to shut down.
“So, every day I’m going to be assigning either book chapters or films or documentaries, that help us understand our past as a community, especially with an emphasis on how we’ve overcome even larger obstacles than the one we’re facing right now, because let me tell you something, if we as a community — our ancestors — survived the Inquisition, they survived the Lavender Scare, they survived the AIDS crisis, we can certainly make it through today,” Cervini said. “So, I hope some of the things that I assign each and every day give us some hope, and remind us that we need to stay vigilant. We’ve been scapegoated by those in power for way too long, especially by those who are feeling like they’re failing, especially like those who are failing today in allowing this crisis to happen in the first place. I think sticking together, looking at stories from the past, is more important than ever.”
Fittingly, Cervini’s first assignment was to watch How to Survive a Plague, the 2012 documentary about the efforts of ACT UP and other groups in the early days of the AIDS crisis. On his “Day 1” broadcast Wednesday, Cervini shared viewer reactions to the film addressing similarities and differences between the AIDS crisis and the coronavirus pandemic. Watch it below.