Elton John’s peculiar new book Love Is The Cure: On Life, Loss and the End of AIDS spends most of its time rhapsodising nostalgically about Ryan White. What few pages that aren’t devoted to that are peppered with fossilised pleas for brotherly love and self-congratulatory reflections on star-studded fundraising galas. Christian goodwill and shitloads of cash won’t “end” AIDS. Individuals (particularly gay male individuals) choosing actions that all but negate the ability of the virus to spread will but, you know, just try telling them that.
Anyway, the great book about how AIDS gathered enough momentum to set itself into perpetual motion is And The Band Played On, written by the immortal Randy Shilts. A journalist who covered the early years of the epidemic for the San Francisco Chronicle, Shilts documents how all stakeholders - including and especially various gay cliques - stuck stubbornly to their own preset agendas while the apocalypse unfolded in front of their eyes.
I’ve read And The Band Played On at least ten times and I’ll certainly revisit it many times more. Give it a go - browse copies here.
Or if you’re a fan, browse copies of Elton’s book.
Alternatively, watch and listen to my idol, noting if you will his clarity, lack of bias in any direction and faith in researched or readily observable fact - what a supreme journalist he was:
look too in the above clip (from 1:20) where Dr. Selma Dritz delivers her great line:
they were screaming civil rights [and] they were right - we didn’t want them to lose their civil rights - but when it clashed with public health, when it clashed with life and death then you simply had to do something about it. I told them “what good are your civil rights if you’re dead?”
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