A powerful Reddit thread featuring the reflections of older people, many of them gay men, who were alive at the time and experienced the AIDS epidemic first-hand. Here’s the top-voted comment:
I was just coming out at the time that AIDS came into public awareness ( I was 25 at the time). I had moved to Denver to kind of find myself and figure things out…to get away from my hometown. Not knowing anyone in Denver, I of course started making friends. Unfortunately, what happened was that a few months after I’d make a friend, they’d pass away from complications of AIDS. I attended just over 20 funerals the first year I was there. It was a scary time. Not only the fear of AIDS, but I started getting to where I was afraid to try to make any friends knowing that the chance of them dying from AIDS was extremely high.
There was also the fear of not knowing the specifics of how the disease was transmitted. It was strongly believed at the time it was sexual, but there was no information on other methods of transmitting it…casual contact? kissing? sharing eating utensils? No one knew, and everyone in the gay community was afraid. Over time, AIDS wiped out an entire generation of gay men. This has had an effect on the more recent generations since people that would normally have been mentors, big brother figures, teachers, etc. were gone, so the younger generation lost out on the wisdom and experience of the previous one. The worst thing was when my first gay friend (and my best friend), came to me two years after I moved back home, that he had AIDS. He told me how scared he was, and that he didn’t want to die. He was one of the first group that was put on AZT as the one and only treatment at the time. He died 8 months later.
EDIT: Ok…so this is my very first posting on reddit. I’m OVERWHELMED by the responses. I had no idea it would take off like this! This has also brought me to tears many times…I have pushed all of this deep in the back of my mind for over two decades. Thank you everyone for your posts. It has really been healing for me to finally face the tragedy of the past, and at the same time, brought back a lot of very fond memories of the friends I’ve lost.