Friday, March 11, 2016

Rock Hudson, Nancy Reagan, President Ronald Reagan
Rock Hudson, Nancy Reagan, President Ronald Reagan

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan Watched Thousands
of LGBTQ People Die of AIDS

Her legacy isn't as glamorous as it seems

Nancy Reagan will be laid to rest this week after passing away at the age of 94 on Sunday. Wife to Ronald Reagan, the nation’s 40th president, the former First Lady is often remembered for her start in Hollywood, her glamorous time in the White House, and her role as her husband’s trusted confidante and protector. But the Reagans also played a critical role in the HIV/AIDS crisis that ravaged the United States in the 1980s.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo around 1920, according to Avert, a charity on the forefront of AIDS activism and treatment since the disease began to spread in the 1980s. While only 121 deaths from AIDS were reported in 1981, the number of cases skyrocketed to 100,000 in the U.S. by 1989.
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is the virus that leads to AIDS. Today, people with HIV can live long and relatively healthy lives — without ever progressing to an AIDS diagnosis — if they adhere to a strict cocktail of medications, but in the '80s when no one really understood what was happening, HIV inevitably turned to AIDS, causing many deaths. That's why the Reagans' refusal to address the issue in a timely manner is often seen as the scarlet letter on their otherwise lauded time in office — the administration’s inaction, mainly due to the fact that most affected by the disease at the time were part of the LGBTQ community, led to many deaths, and so much suffering.
Though the World Health Organization was holding meetings about AIDS by 1983, the White House offered little support for awareness of the epidemic. Reagan, who first took office in 1981, didn’t publicly address AIDS until well into his second term. According to ABC, more than 20,000 Americans had died from the disease by the time he first spoke about it.
The first lady notoriously had enormous sway over her husband, and could have intervened if she wished. She infamously tried to champion another epidemic of the era, drugs, with the overly simplified and ultimately harmful "Just Say No" campaign. It failed due to ignoring the roots of the cause and not understanding that addiction is a disease, not a choice. [The Guardian] writes, "Much like abstinence-based sex education... 'Just Say No' spread fear and ignorance instead of information." Like HIV/AIDS, the White House failed to properly educate itself, and as a result, let down its most vulnerable citizens in another spectacular way.
In an obituary, Slate remembered Nancy as Reagan’s “protector” and the “greatest guardian of her husband’s reputation.” With that kind of influence over her husband, Nancy could likely have encouraged the president to speak out about the disease that was killing their country's citizens. It's not as she was shy about the issues plaguing the country at that time.
"On a personal level, she was someone who was not against gay people," Richard Socarides, a former White House adviser for President Bill Clinton, told the Associated Press about Nancy Reagan. "But when the country needed leadership, President Reagan was not there, and his wife — who was able to do more — was not willing to step up. It reflects rather harshly on both of them."
With a history as an actress, and the wife of an actor-turned-politician, Nancy was known for her glamorous lifestyle and her fashion — she was also known for her Hollywood friends, including Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.
Obituaries remember Nancy as the “first lady of style,” and counted down her best outfits, but her relationship with the fashion community was complex, as the industry is partially driven by many LGBTQ leaders. According to a 2005 piece by the New York Times, 20 of 29 men who, at that time, had received the Perry Ellis Award for Young Talent from the Council of Fashion Designers of America were gay.
With gay men at the forefront of fashion, and Nancy a style icon, there was a disconnect between the style visionaries who made her who she is, and her politics. 
In 2013, the first lady’s daughter announced that her mother did support same-sex marriage, but was “not comfortable going out in the public eye and getting in the firing line of anything.” By that time, decades outside of the White House and years after the AIDS epidemic, Reagan’s support meant little to the community which suffered through an administration that didn’t extend a hand in its time of need.
The Reagans were eventually swayed to react to AIDS by the death of a close friend. Rock Hudson, at the peak of his career, was Brad Pitt-level famous — and beloved by women internationally. He was also gay, but famous at a time when being publicly gay could ruin a successful career (even if you weren't a star) so he stayed silent about his sexuality. In the mid '80, however, he developed AIDS, becoming one of the most prominent American figures to suffer from the disease, and bringing it to the forefront of the nation’s news cycle.
As his condition deteriorated, Hudson, in France at the time, reached out for help from the White House in getting treatment from a specific French doctor and hospital. The first lady rebuffed him, saying it would be inappropriate to offer such a favor for Hudson and “appear to favor personal friends” and felt, instead, it was a matter the United States Embassy in Paris should address. Hudson died from the disease only a few months later.
Once it became publicly known Hudson suffered from the disease, the nation began to view the epidemic through a different light. "If Rock Hudson can have it, nice people can have it,” William Hoffman, who wrote a play about AIDS, told People in 1985. Read more...
Source: Teen Vogue, Polly Mosendz, March 9, 2016

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan

Hillary Clinton’s insulting AIDS revisionism: Why her praise of the Reagans feels like such a slap in the face

The Democratic frontrunner says Ronald and Nancy Reagan brought attention to the crisis. History says otherwise

Sometimes the mistakes Hillary Clinton makes are truly baffling. Take the colossal mistake she made on Friday when she said the following about the late Nancy Reagan and AIDS while appearing on MSNBC.

Said Clinton:
“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s. And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan, in particular Mrs. Reagan, we started a national conversation. When before, nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it, and that too is something that I really appreciate with her very effective low-key advocacy, but it penetrated the public conscience, and people began saying, ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too.'”
The mind reels. It is difficult to imagine a more historically inaccurate and insulting way to describe the Reagan approach to AIDS than what Hillary Clinton said.
She is right in one respect: It was indeed very difficult for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s. A large part of the reason it was so difficult was because the Reagan administration essentially refused to acknowledge that the AIDS crisis was even happening until well after thousands of people had already died from the disease.
Reagan’s silence on the issue is so well-documented that it’s hard to comprehend exactly what Hillary Clinton was thinking when she praised his handling of the crisis. But since she apparently needs a reminder of the basics, let’s review some of them.
We could talk about the infamous, nauseatingly homophobic White House press briefing from October 1982, when Reagan’s press secretary Larry Speakes and a roomful of reporters literally laughed off a question about AIDS, with Speakes joking, “I don’t have it, do you?” Speakes added that he didn’t think the White House knew anything about AIDS, which was undoubtedly true.
We could talk about the fact that Reagan didn’t so much as utter the word “AIDS” until 1985, and didn’t give a speech about AIDS until 1987, by which point it had killed at least 40,000 people in the United States alone.

We could talk about the fact that Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton’s great low-key hero, decided to be so low-key in her approach to AIDS that she wouldn’t even help her personal friend Rock Hudson get treatment when he was dying in 1985.
These things are so indisputable in 2016 that even Teen Vogue [read above] ran a scathing article about Nancy Reagan’s shameful lack of attention to AIDS. Apparently, Teen Vogue has a better handle on the history of the 1980s than Hillary Clinton, who was the First Lady of Arkansas for virtually the entire decade.
Clinton’s comments aren’t just a blatant misrepresentation of the historical record. They’re also a slap in the face to the people who actually did jumpstart the national dialogue around AIDS — namely, the activists whose militancy, fearlessness and love of their community forced the issue into the national agenda. Read more...
Source: Salon, Jack Mirkinson, March 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton apologizes for praising Nancy Reagan’s response to HIV/AIDS

Hillary Clinton traveled to Simi Valley California to pay her respects to fellow first lady Nancy Reagan, and in an interview with MSNBC, she praised Reagan for her advocacy on issues like Alzheimer's research and gun control.
Clinton also praised Nancy Reagan -- unprompted -- for her advocacy on HIV/AIDS.
"It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS in the 1980s," Clinton said. "And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan -- in particular Mrs. Reagan --we started a national conversation."
But that's not how LGBT and AIDS advocates remember it. Both Reagans have been criticized for being slow to acknowledge the AIDS crisis. President Reagan addressed it in a speech in 1987, six years after it had been recognized as a serious public health problem.
The comments caused an uproar online, including among prominent LGBT and AIDS activists. Hours later, in a statement, Clinton apologized for making the comments on MSNBC.
"While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease, I misspoke about their record on HIV and AIDS," Clinton said in a statement. "For that, I'm sorry."
In the intervening hours between her comments and the apology, the campaign and LGBT advocates conferred over the need to urgently address the comments, Richard Socarides, an aide to former president Bill Clinton and adviser on gay rights and AIDS issues in the Clinton White House acknowledged in an interview.
“I think that left unaddressed it would cause some kind of a stir," Socarides said in an interview. “She is well aware of the devastation that President Reagan’s neglect around AIDS caused. Her husband’s campaign in 1992 was very focused on it.
"She was speaking at the woman’s funeral, and I think her comments should be read in that context," he added.
The Reagans also lost a close friend to AIDS, actor Rock Hudson, who died two years before Reagan's speech. And documents obtained by Buzzfeed News earlier this year revealed that Hudson appealed to Nancy Reagan for help obtaining treatment before his death. She declined to assist.
"Nancy and Ron Reagan were a functional team in the Presidency,” wrote AIDS activist Kenneth Bunch, aka Sister Vicious Power Hungry B----, according to the Guardian. “They are both responsible for the death of thousands from HIV in the LGBT community due to their inaction in the 1980’s. So I understand the anger in the LGBT community toward Nancy. I feel that anger as well." Read more...
Source: The Washington Post, Abby Phillip and Anne Gearan, March 11, 2016

Rock Hudson, le beau ténébreux

Un (excellent) documentaire (en français) sur la vie, l'ascension, la carrière et la descente aux enfers de Rock Hudson, diffusé en 2014 sur la chaîne ARTE. A voir absolument, pour l'éclairage sensible -- et parfois terriblement prosaïque et déprimant -- qu'il porte sur les années de plomb, les années de honte, les années pré-Stonewall et post-Harvey Milk, et le début des années Sida. Durée : 100 minutes. (Début à 5'40" sur la vidéo YouTube.)
"J'ai su tout jeune que je voulais être acteur, mais dans la petite ville du Middle West où je suis né, il ne fallait pas le dire : jouer la comédie, c'était bon pour les lavettes". Portrait de l'irrésistible acteur Rock Hudson, icône des plus grands cinéastes, qui cacha longtemps son homosexualité et fut l'une des premières stars à révéler sa séropositivité.


JiEL said...

Faut visionner «Dallas Buyers Club» et «Normal Heart», entre autres films sur le sujet des premiers cas de SIDA aux USA, pour comprendre comment les institutions américaines de la santé se détournaient pour aider ces patients atteints et honteux pour la société bien pensante de l'époque.

C'était une époque noire pour le droit des gais aux USA tout comme le fut celui de l'émancipation de noirs. Les USA ont toujours eu des problèmes d'acceptance de ce qui n'est pas «blanc-riche-chrétien»..

another country said...

Si tu ne l'as pas vu, je te conseille vraiment de te bloquer 90 minutes et de regarder le documentaire réalisé par Arte sur la trajectoire balistique de Rock Hudson, et l'avènement des années Sida (vidéo YouTube en bas d'article). C'est un formidable condensé, un "précipité" comme disent les chimistes, de ce qui a été, est encore, n'est plus. Le "cancer gay" est un pan de notre histoire.

joseph said...

Rock Hudson a vraiment vécu une histoire d'amour avec cette future Première dame ou c'est encore une légende faite pour redorer le blason de Rock Hudson (que j'idolâtrais comme acteur dans les années 50 60 et ses films comme "le téléphone rouge" et un autre qui se passait dans la jungle de Bornéo mais dont le titre m'échappe...ah vieillesse ennemie...

another country said...

Cher Joseph, je vous invite réellement à vous réserver 90 minutes et à vous caler dans votre fauteuil pour regarder la vidéo postée en bas de l'article. Elle permet de mieux comprendre qui était réellement Rock Hudson et de découvrir le monde dans lequel il a vécu, le bocal et l'eau somme toute saumâtre dans laquelle il évoluait et tournait en rond.

another country said...

YouTube me fait CHIER avec les droits d'auteur... mais alors dans les grandes longueurs !!!! Le film n'est pas non plus disponible sur ARTE+ -- c'est le XIXe siècle ! Si vous voulez voir cette (excellente) vidéo MALGRE TOUT, contactez-moi par MP et je vous enverrai un lien vers mon Cloud. ac