The Advocate marked the fourth decade of the AIDS crisis by revisiting some of the people who have been there since day one:
“In 1986, when a great number of people that I knew had already died and were infected, I just assumed that I was infected also, because I couldn’t imagine why I wouldn’t have been. Finally, I had the courage to go and get the test, which was one of the scarier moments of my life. I found out that I was HIV-negative. At first I didn’t understand it, and then i felt guilty because so many friends of mine were dealing with this issue and I had been released from this burden. After a period of time, I thought, I’m a very lucky man, and I have to show up in this problem, not because I’m fighting for my own life but because I have to be a part of this fight. I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate in many ways, and I want to be a part of the solution.”
Producer and philanthropist David Geffen. December 29, 1992.
“Slick Willie, the Republicans were right. We should never have trusted you. You are doing nothing while we die. One year later, lots of talk, but no action. Bill, while me and my community are dying in ever-increasing numbers, all you do it talk.”
ACT UP member Luke Montgomery [Luke Sissyfag], who interrupted a speech by President Bill Clinton at an AIDS ward at Georgetown University Medical Center. January 25, 1994.
“I heard this big, hollow thud, and then I found myself in the water. I just held my head in the hopes… I [didn’t] know if I was cut or not. But I wanted to keep the blood in, or just not let anybody touch it. Dealing with HIV was really difficult for me because I felt like, God, thee US Olympic Committee needs to know about this. But I didn’t anticipate hitting my head on the board. That’s where I became paralyzed with fear.”Olympian Greg Louganis, telling Barbara Walters about his diving accident during the 1988 games. March 21, 1995.
“I remember complaining, ‘Why isn’t anybody doing anything? Why isn’t anyone raising money?’ And it struck me like lightning: ‘Wait a second, I’m not doing anything.’ So with the help of several other people, we put on the first-ever gay benefit here, the Commitment to Life. Betty Ford was the guest of honor, and it took about a year to put together. I’ve never heard so many nos in my life. Oh, my God,m it was unbelievable! Nobody in this town wanted to know or be a part of it. They said, ‘No, this is one where you want to stay away from.There’s a stigma.’ I didn’t even know that Rock Hudson was sick yet. i found that out two or three months after i was involved.”
Actress and activist Elizabeth Taylor. October 15, 1996.
“[As gay men] we’re conditioned to think we’re always at risk for HIV. I know that anytime I’ve gone for an HIV test, I always worry, even if I don’t engage in unsafe sexual behavior or inject drugs.”
Jose Zuniga, a volunteer for a 1997 live-virus HIV vaccine trial. November 25, 1997.
“If my story can help people–anybody at all–it is positive. I’ve always tried to help people, whether it be as a gay man, or a Mexican-American or now, someone who is HIV-positive.”
1996 national champion figure skater Rudy Galindo. May 9, 2000.