We Were Here
We Were Here is the first documentary to take a deep and reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco. It explores how the City’s inhabitants were affected by, and how they responded to, that calamitous epidemic.
Though a San Francisco-based story, We Were Here extends beyond San Francisco and beyond AIDS itself. It speaks to our capacity as individuals to rise to the occasion, and to the incredible power of a community coming together with love, compassion, and determination.
Michael Callen, Richard Berkowitz, Joseph Sonnabend. 1983
At that time the cause of AIDS was unknown; isolation of the virus, yet to be named HIV, had only been reported in the same month that our booklet was published. But by then we did know that AIDS was sexually transmitted, that exposure to body fluids was involved. We had good reasons, if not proof at that time, to believe that semen was a major vehicle of transmission. We did not then know what it was that was being transmitted.
Even if we didn’t have the answer to the question of what it was that was being transmitted, we felt that it was justifiable to recommend condom use, which could prevent transmission either of an as yet unrecognized new virus, or repeated infections with a known virus.
on May 17, 2013 / POZ Magazine
Bobbi Campbell at the Clinical Nursing Conference on AIDS at NIH, October 7, 1983.
This is an excerpt from Sunday, October 9th, 1983 entry:
…We had to get up early in the morning to go to Bethesda for the Nat’l Institute of Health’s Nursing Clinical Conference on AIDS. I had threatened to disrupt the conference and denounce NIH if PWA’s [People with AIDS] were not included, so Artie [Artie Felsen] & I got to do a “poster session” off in a separate room. We had two posters (they were a drag to carry on the plane). One had photos of PWAs and one had literature that we had developed. Interestingly, the nurses protected themselves professionally from feelings by glancing at the photos and flocking to the printed word. Many people didn’t look twice, much less speak, to the real people. Dressing for the part, I was in white pants, white shoes, and a clinical lab coat….
Bobbi Campbell Diary, MSS 96-33, folder 3, envelope 4.
UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management, Archives and Special Collections, University of California, San Francisco.
[Description: A white button that shows its age. In the centre: top: TORONTO; middle: pink triangle pointing downward, black bold text overlay: NO MORE SHIT!; bottom: 6 FEB 81]
This image harkens back to:
In the wake of the Toronto bathhouse raids, The Body Politic becomes a key forum for discussing the raids’ political implications and becomes a regular component of the ensuing rallies, where copies are distributed among the heated crowds.
The Making of “Monsters” | Dir. John Greyson, 1991
During his residency at the Canadian Film Centre in 1991, John Greyson, the enfant terrible of gay cinema in Canada, directed The Making of “Monsters,” a short film dealing with the 1985 murder of a gay schoolteacher by five teenage boys in Toronto’s High Park. This fictional documentary chronicles a movie-of-the-week version of the event. There is a movie-within-the-movie produced by Hungarian Marxist and literary critic and theorist Georg Lukacs and directed by Bertolt Brecht, who inexplicably appears as a catfish in a bowl.
Brilliantly incorporating everything from Marxist aesthetics to hockey machismo to tire fires, Greyson made a film that is immensely enjoyable as well as a strong, fearless statement of gay pride. The Making of “Monsters”established John Greyson as one of Canada’s brightest talents.
If you have the chance to see this film, I recommend it. As a glimpse into the 80s queer struggle for safety and equal treatment under the law, it is enlightening. While seeking to counter mainstream cultural paradigms of masculinity, sex, and sexuality, Greyson deploys biting truths and scathing satire in catchy songs and choreographed dance. The film culminates in a call to action for all queers to bash back, and fight oppression together. Queer cinema at its finest.