12th Street: I think you talk about this in your book, or maybe in one of the earlier essays, this idea of white gay men’s anger at not being able to fully conquer…
Sarah: I think what I wrote is, after thirty years of writing about gay male courage, I wanted to say something about gay male cowardice. And that it was rooted in this rage about not being able to dominate everyone else.
12th Street: I think it is important when it comes to HIV/AIDS. I was talking to a friend who is living with HIV and he said, in his world, no one cares about HIV anymore.
Sarah: Well, one of the things I am trying to do in the book is re-articulate AIDS because what he is saying is, there is this repetition of the slogan, this trope that is tired, that people don’t respond to, that isn’t relevant. And I agree with him. So I try to talk about AIDS in a slightly different way.
12th Street: Are you referring to the terms you put forward, AIDS of the PAST (AIDS crisis pre-meds), and Ongoing AIDS (globalization of the pandemic)?
Sarah: Well, that is the background. What I am trying to say is, you can’t have 80,000 people die in a country and it have no impact. It is impossible. So I try to talk about all the different kinds of impact. Everything from children of people who died of AIDS (in the book this is a three-sentence throw away, someone could write an entire book about it). In my view as a witness, people did not die of AIDS; they died of government neglect and indifference. So these are political deaths. Normally when children’s parents have been murdered or allowed to die because of political negligence, they develop an identity around that experience. But the children of people who died of AIDS are entirely silent and invisible in our culture as a constituency because, I believe, they falsely internalized the idea that their parents died because they used drugs or were gay. They died because of government indifference.
12th Street: Even people living with HIV are silent…
Sarah: It has become a private experience.