ActivismGay CultureGay EldersGet OutragedHIV/AIDSHomophobiaLGBT History

Living with AIDS 40 Years Later

By Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.

It is safe to say that since the Stonewall Uprising in 1969 nothing has so dramatically changed the course of our Community like AIDS.  Forty years ago today the first five case of a strange pneumonia were reported among young, previously healthy, gay men.  A month later the first story about the coming plague would appear in the New York Times.


While no one seemed to know what was happening to cause these illnesses or why the patients were unable to recover from them, a few things were painfully clear from the get-go: the disease was spreading, it was killing gay men, and our government didn’t care.


As a Community, we had to save ourselves and we did in the most compassionate, fearless, and heroic ways.  They did it even though many who fought the fight knew they wouldn’t live to see the life saving treatments they were demanding.


It’s hard to comprehend that two generations in our community have come up since AIDS was first discovered and decimated an entire generation of gay men who were the age they are now.  It’s even harder for them to understand the terror and panic of those early years when we feared for our lives and that our Community could be wiped by AIDS and half the country hoped it would.

Unlike Americans response to the coronavirus pandemic which divided the nation against it own health and wellbeing, our Community can be proud of the countless ways in which we came together in unity fighting for our lives, our safety, and our future.  It’s for these reasons, theOUTfront is committed to telling our Community’s stories of HIV/AIDS triumph and tragedy.

We again present these stories from our Community to honor all those lost to and effected by HIV/AIDS.


“St Vincent’s Hospital epicenter of New York City’s AIDS epidemic: Remembered”


“’A True Champion,’ on National HIV Testing Day”


“Pride In My Tribe – Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS”

“Removing the Mask”

Haviland Stillwell, Photo by ARTHUR MARROQUIN // ABM PHOTOGRAPHY


“‘Nightline’ Report: World AIDS Day 2020, Uniting and Surviving in a Pandemic”


“World AIDS Day 2019, Attention Must Be Paid”


“World AIDS Day 2018, How many more?”


“World AIDS Day 2017, the 30th Anniversary”



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