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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.


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Sunday, June 05, 2016

entry arrow6:21 PM | AIDS Turns 35 Today + A Marathon of AIDS Films

Logo has a very interesting article out today -- "The AIDS Epidemic Was Born 35 Years Ago Today" -- that is timely and appropriate. Dan Avery writes: "On June 5, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) describing a rare lung infection, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), in five young gay men living in Los Angeles. The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times picked up the story that same day. It was the first report diagnosing what was soon to be known as Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome — AIDS."



Today, having HIV has become less of a death sentence for people in the First World because of an empowered LGBT community, years of successful campaigning for safe sex, and new drug cocktails that have prolonged the lives of those living with HIV. Alas, not so much in the Philippines (see report), which lags far behind the West in its attitude towards the disease, and is now poised to enter the plague years that paralysed the U.S. in the mid-1980s. I blame religion and entrenched homophobia and myopic politicians like Sen. Tito Sotto. I have friends and family who have the disease -- and it is such an eye-opener.

At risk, of course, are many gay men, like my friend Wanggo Gallaga, who has become an outspoken advocate...



And for information's sake, here's a bunch of films that give us a good breadth of narratives involving HIV/AIDS -- a selection of titles that would make a perfect marathon of the history and personal drama wrought by the disease. This list is by no means exhaustive. There are so many other films -- Angels in America, Parting Glances, An Early Frost, Jeffrey, It's My Party, Peter's Friends, 3 Needles, Rent -- that make for great recommendation, but I'm going for a historical and emotional arc here, hence these titles:



Roger Spottiswoode's And the Band Played On (1993) dramatises Randy Shilts' book that chronicled the early international effort at identifying the virus, and locating the so-called Patient Zero -- the man who first brought it to America sometime in the 1970s...

Norman René's Longtime Companion (1989) focuses on the virus's impact on the gay community in New York, taking us from the innocent heydays when the New York Times first reported cases of what was then called the "gay cancer" to the intervening years that saw a community slowly decimated...

Ryan Murphy's The Normal Heart (2014) is the belated adaptation of the acclaimed play by outspoken activist Larry Kramer, the perfect companion to René's Longtime Companion, which subtracts the almost fairy-tale-like gloss of that early film by dramatising the real-life activism spurred by the disease...

Jean-Marc Vallée's Dallas Buyers Club (2013) provides a necessary corrective to the usual AIDS narrative focusing only on gay lives by concentrating on a real-life heterosexual subject, a homophobe at that, who was instrumental at cracking the prohibitive drug restrictions that was leaving many HIV sufferers dying untreated in the worst of those plague years...

Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia (1993) was the film that mainstreamed the disease and made it all right for ordinary folks to discuss it (thanks to an Oscar-winning turn by Tom Hanks), and tackled squarely the issue of homophobia...

Gregg Araki's The Living End (1992) is the cathartic and transgressive AIDS film we needed to offset everything else about the grand narrative involving th disease: here, two gay men suffering from HIV take to the road in pursuit of sex and violence to mark the end of their days...

Christopher Reeve's In the Gloaming (1997) is the perfect film to end a marathon of AIDS movies: in this adaptation of the acclaimed short story by Alice Elliott Dark, a young man stricken with AIDS returns home to the care of his mother, and prepares to die.

[Related: PLUS has a list of "The 10 Best Movies About HIV and AIDS" here.]

#PrideMonth2016

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