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We Were Here

The amazing documentary about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco.

I watched it today.

(Yes, eldergay thread! Go chase parked cars!)

I have not cried that many times at a film in over 20 years.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 8703/22/2013

I was there too and I just can't.

Once was way more than enough.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 105/31/2012

I recently watched this online, and I'm 34 so I was just a kid during AIDS. It was very moving and also appalling how gay men were treated in those days. Fascinating documentary. I cannot imagine the fear and paranoia gay men must have felt back then. I'm grateful I did not experience it personally.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 205/31/2012

Was there too. Seriously, Zak, can you give me a reason?

Must we re-live the pain and the horrible suffering; physical and mental? What would I get out of it? Is there some new insight to be had?

TIA.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 305/31/2012

Well for me, it made the hard choices I made back then seem very much the right ones.

Getting involved in AIDS, working in HIV prevention education -- I knew they were the right things for me to do, but some times I felt the cost on me were too great. I certainly no longer feel that.

It made me see why I was such a live-for-the day person for so many years of my life. I never thought about the future or that I would be here getting old... and I am not even infected, I was just very much Afected by HIV. Seriously, didn't think I would be old and some times forget how fortunate I am to be old.

Overall, it made me very happy to be alive and it reminded me that I can't take life for granted -- or squander the gifts I have. Every day, I want to remember that I survived and that it is important we not forget the things many of us lived through.

And that my struggles to be more compassionate are far from over. While I have had buckets of compassion for my LGBT brothers and sisters, the rest of the world has often made me want to wretch.

I realize that my short fuse for people who haven't faced what we faced doesn't really serve me well.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 405/31/2012

Another reason: the people they interview, each in his/her own way are all remarkable. I feel like that are part of my family that I just haven't see in awhile or somehow haven't met.

It also made me miss California so much.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 505/31/2012

R6 is off her meds.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 705/31/2012

Where is this available?

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 805/31/2012

Is this an HBO show!

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 905/31/2012

No it is a documentary film.

You can buy the DVD. I did.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 1005/31/2012

It's on itunes to buy (9.99) or rent (3.99, 4.99 HD).

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 1105/31/2012

Watch it here.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 1205/31/2012

Thanks Zak, I appreciate the answer. Hadn't looked at it that way.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 1305/31/2012

[quote]Well for me, it made the hard choices I made back then seem very much the right ones.

I, too, never overlook an opportunity to be self-congratulatory.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 1405/31/2012

Jesus, R14, could you be any more fucking insecure.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 1505/31/2012

Please. Zak's post is chock-full of "I, me, my" and you call out R14?

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 1605/31/2012

I remember the night it hit me. I had pushed down all the trauma of watching these young men die and moved from SF to NY in '95. My father, stepmother and I were watching Rent and when it got to the part where the little drag queen dies of AIDS I couldn't stop the tears. At first it started out as a sympathetic gesture to a poignant plot point in a musical. I found a tissue and it was soaking wet in a second or two and so I began to wipe my eyes with my shirt cuffs and the back of my hands. I sat there in the darkness and was mortified by my own reaction which went on into the next scene.

I was there. SF General. Rita Rockett putting on shows in the AIDS ward. Sylvester. The Elizabeth Taylor TV and video cart at Davies Memorial AIDS ward. The slow goodbye and the cartwheel off the cliff. The Catholic Church.

I don't want to relive it again. Not in this lifetime. Maybe in a book no one will ever read.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 1705/31/2012

Lots of gay-friendly people were there, too, you know. Back in the day, the straights were having a hard enough time having to justify why they were 'putting themselves at risk for no reason' with the association. Hags were big support during this time.

Fuck. I can't even think about it without my heart sinking.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 1805/31/2012

R17. You took me back there. It should be, "Do you remember where you were when your first friend died of AIDS?" Fuck.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 1905/31/2012

I was in ICU when I think it was 20/20 first aired a report on the gay cancer. I asked my intern if there were any cases here(at OSU hospital)and I was shushed! He WHISPERED that there were but that nobody was supposed to talk about it. I asked why and he said it was to avoid panic. It was a bad year at that hospital. That same year a serial killer was stalking patients in the ICU. It didn't take long for society to form it's opinion of what came to be called AIDS. By the next summer a local church had hired a plane to buzz our Pride parade with a banner that AIDS was "God's curse against homosexuals".

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 2005/31/2012

I was struck by the 'sensitive'/femme guy who said he finally felt accepted or part of the gay community when volunteering with HIV/AIDS patients.

It was an interesting observation when much of the coverage of the late 1960s and the 1970s talks about openness, diversity etc. and yet this "mild" femmey guy could find no place within the gay community until the AIDS crisis.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 2105/31/2012

R19 Yes, I remember. His name was Jerry. He broke it to me by saying, "Do you remember when we were talking about how awful it's gonna be when your first friend tells you he has AIDS?"

We were a good team. Writing partners. We'd just interviewed Sylvester for his "One Night Only" concert which was coming up. The Bay Area Reporter. Not exactly big time, but we had plans. Jerry knew all the new stuff about Sylvester. I knew the old stuff -- like when he came to NY with the Cockettes. Sylvester put a Patti LaBelle song on and said he'd be singing it with Martha Wash at the Castro Theater. I will never forget the angelic sound the two of them made as they bounced their voices off the hallowed walls of that theater. It was like a call and response bit at the end of the song. I was awestruck.

Yeah, there's lots of good memories from back then too, but if you are a gay man of a certain age who fits into this demographic you basically lost most, if not all, of your friends. And it made a tremendous mark on your psyche. I think that period in time is the genesis of the traction we have in gay civil rights today.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 2205/31/2012

I just watched this movie. Now, I can't stop crying.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 2305/31/2012

I was heartened to see the documentary with the lesbians who put together a safety net, like overnight, to help the gay men in the Castro. I had a friend from a wealthy Orange County Christian family who lived out his last days in a roach-infested tenderloin rat trap. Nobody visited. He had no money and relied on the charity of this women's network.

His mother called occasionally to tell his ex-boyfriend and fellow caretaker, "You know, I don't approve of your lifestyle." He was changing her son's diaper at the time.

It was like we had entered the Twilight Zone.

Surprisingly, he wanted his ashes scattered back home in Orange County, in Laguna Beach so it was okay, and his mother met us there.

With her church group.

Yeah. I know.

His mother said, "Thank you for coming."

I had the ashes in a fliptop plastic container in my arms. The ex-boyfriend leered at her. He had to call to get her to send the $650 to cremate her son. She procrastinated.

Mom returned to the group and they all joined hands in a circle and began singing religious songs.

I was cued to begin and as I started to tilt the container, the mother let out an awful heartbreaking gasp.

I noticed the ex frantically running his index fingers in a circle, the international sign for "speed it up" so I'm afraid I kind of just dumped the rest of him in the drink and closed the lid.

On the way back to her Mercedes, the mother walked alongside me and tried to make small talk. It was an awkward conversation, but she knew better than to interact with the ex who had long since stopped trying to fathom this woman.

All of a sudden, the top of the ash cannister popped open with a loud "Snap!" and I swear this woman screamed and jumped three feet in the air.

I remember thinking, "Good one!"

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 2405/31/2012

Great story, r24. Love the ending.

I was very young during the height of the crisis (18 in 1983) but out, and I can remember the many, many lesbians who came to the rescue.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 2505/31/2012

I just put it my Netflix queue.

While I know it's difficult to look back on that terrible period, it did galvanize the gay community as never before. It was the defining moment for a generation. Yes, as in any war, many were lost. But those who survived moved on to build institutions that will last decades.

Today, all over the country, there are HIV/AIDS resource centers. Everywhere you look on TV, there are gays, accepted as part of the mainstream. Marriage equality is a reality in several states and will be in more, if not the entire country in the next 20 years.

You're really the gay "Greatest Generation". It may not seem like that right now but history will mark those years as THE turning point in equal rights.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 2605/31/2012

Thanks R26 for somewhat justfying all the "I's" that were in my previous post.

Ignore me, (besides, I want to be alone) BUT if you are gay guy between the ages of 30 and 89, you have to see this movie.

That is all...

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 2705/31/2012

R27 Zak, you post eloquently here on many threads, including this one. Don't let any nasty cunts get you down.

Thank you for pointing this out. I came out in the early 90s after the first several waves of losses but I still lost a few friends. Small town + shitty medical help + hospitals/doctors who were homophobic = unnecessary deaths.

I will check this out.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 2805/31/2012

Thanks for posting about this, Zak. I'm downloading the movie from iTunes right now.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 3005/31/2012

We had Ward 5. Death Valley was what we called it. There was no hope once you hit W5. But there were 2 nurses, Sets and another who weren't afraid and worked tirelessly to make those last moments comfortable for the dying and for those suffering with them.

That horrific era for Gay men has continued to affect me since.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 3205/31/2012

Do people still die of AIDS?

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 3305/31/2012

Yes, r33.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 3406/01/2012

Zak I saw it on Sat night. I moved to SF in 84 and was there until 98 and worked in the Castro though all of the 80s and early 90s and saw literally dozens if not hundreds of people go from zero to dead in an instant. It was a wrenching time to live through and changed my perspective about the future and what life should be like. Seeing the documentary was not, for whatever reasons, as devastating an experience as I thought it would be. I was shocked to see one of my good friends in a picture taken at General visiting a sick friend and then later in the film another picture of him dying. There was John frozen in time. I think one of the central points to make is that no one who didn't go through it will ever understand what happened then.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 3506/04/2012

Firstly, we posted about this about 7 months ago when the film was long listed for the Best Documentary Oscar and received a limited theatrical release.

Secondly, this is not an "eldergay" thread - that annoying and offensive word that some idiots here embrace like women who hate feminists. This film is for everybody.

Thirdly, you watch it because it is a document of our history as probably the only people who suffered through and survived two holocausts in one century. This story is part of who we are, the challenges we have faced and by taking care of our own - at one time, the ethos of the gay community - what we have overcome. For those of us who lived through it, it offers perspective on a time that was too overwhelming to process completely and, as sad and painful as it is to watch, it is a document, proof if you will, that it really happened. Like every other part of our history we're in danger of being air brushed out of it; we witnessed this when Reagan died and people shrugged off the part he played in prolonging the suffering of our people by refusing to take any action.

For younger gay men, they should watch it to know what we went through.

And lastly, you should watch it because it documents how our lesbian sisters cared for us in our desperate time of need, how they stood by us and fought for us; it shows how much we as gay men are indebted to them and should make more of our opportunity to show them our gratitude and love.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 3606/04/2012

It's a very touching doc but I wish it had been more imaginatively filmed. The 5 people who speak are, except the woman and, perhaps, the florist, very self-involved and talk as though the entire epidemic were about them. The imagery is predictable and the filming bland.

Docs are very difficult to do well. This one just isn't that good. Still waiting for the really good doc that will bring everyone to the theater or the netflix queue. It'll happen. Just hasn't happened yet.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 3706/04/2012

The nurse and the florist were my favorites. They were such genuine, lovely people.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 3806/04/2012

[quote]Do people still die of AIDS?

Just a couple weeks ago, a study came out that said people with HIV/AIDS are four times as likely as the general population to die from sudden cardiac arrest -- even if their virus is well controlled.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 3906/05/2012

I was a young scientist and worked with someone who is one of the subjects of this film. Am only about one third into it and don't think I'll watch the rest of it today because I don't know who else is going to pop up.

r17/22, I think we know each other. Didn't know you posted here.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 4006/06/2012

I watched it. I didn't want to, having lived through it. But it was on when I was flipping channels and I was unable to not watch it. I was crying and talking to dead friends throughout. I didn't realize I had so much pent up feeling inside me, and thinking of our idiot country planning to erect a vile conceited Mormon scumbag as president. Anyway, I'm an emotional eater and at the end I knew how bad it was because I was craving Wendy's chili cheese fries instead of the nice tomato salad I had made for dinner.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 4106/15/2012

I guess I'm one of those people they were talking about at the end, the kind who can't restart their lives and can't think about the future.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 4206/15/2012

Two things I cannot watch, anything to do with people dying from cancer, or dying from AIDS. I've experience the loss of too many people to either of those horrid diseases and it cuts right to my core.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 4306/15/2012

[quote]Just a couple weeks ago, a study came out that said people with HIV/AIDS are four times as likely as the general population to die from sudden cardiac arrest -- even if their virus is well controlled.

Better than a slow lingering death.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 4406/15/2012

I hope young gay men see it. I won't. I've done my AIDS time. For many years I volunteered caring and advocating for people with HIV/AIDS. Recently I made a conscious decision to move on and allow myself to put my own needs first.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 4506/15/2012

This is the kind of thread I come to DL for.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 4606/15/2012

It was banned in Columbus, Ohio. Our PBS station won't show anything remotely controversial. We get This Old House reruns whenever Frontline or Independent Lens is scheduled.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 4706/15/2012

It's currently on Vudu and iTunes. It's very heartbreaking, but an important film to watch.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 4806/15/2012

Prepare to cry for days, after viewing this film.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 4906/15/2012

Deeply moving. It brought back a lot of memories.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 5006/15/2012

I lose it during the ending montage when they show Nureyev leaping.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 5106/15/2012

Piece on the Huffington Post.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 5206/15/2012

A friend phoned to to tell this was on tv last week (in Australia here!) so recorded and watched a few days later...

Fantastic documentary! So well done and resonant on so many levels - and seeing the experience of San Franciscans at the time reminded me of how it was here and of so many friends and acquaintances that I lost in the eighties and early nineties.

I disagree with the comment by a previous poster who felt the five people interviewed were too self absorbed or whatever - not so! The filmmakers asked them for their own stories - to give a human perspective on an event that was almost too big to comprehend. I feel they wove those stories into the chronology of events so well and always served to remind us that it was about people - individuals - when just hearing statistics and numbers can become meaningless after a point.

I will always be grateful that those five people were prepared to open up and spill their hearts and memories for others to see. It was a profoundly generous act. And I think every glbt person - and friends & family thereof should be encouraged to see this document of our history, remember those who've gone - and honor those who faught the good fight for the benefit of the rest of us.

And ditto the assails who criticized zak for dating the reasons he thought it was an important piece of work. Someone asked him a question and he opened up and gave a thoughtful, personal response. Then you have a go at him like a complete dickhead.

On the whole - certainly know who I'd rather sound my time with. Do you actually have any real friends? If so - they're fucking saints!

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 5306/16/2012

R53 here again -

Second last para is meant to say an arsehole not am assail - thankyou iPhone spellcorrect -

...and it should have been 'citing the reasons' not 'dating' then - blah!

Mea culpa!

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 5406/16/2012

r55, you do realize that not only gay people get AIDS, don't you? And that "licking the butt" doesn't transfer HIV?

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 5606/16/2012

R55, go fuck your sister.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 5706/16/2012

"AIDS = 100% preventable."

Unfortunately being a complete asshole is not.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 5806/16/2012

R53, which station was it on? I missed it.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 5906/16/2012

There were good lesbians and bad, of course. I remember one who was deathly afraid her dog would get AIDS from one of the fags at pride.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 6006/16/2012

Think it was on the ABC r59 - but come to think of it - might have been SBS.

If you can't find it there or on the net, well worth ordering it on DVD - it's available from amazon if u have a multi-region player... (might even be available in Oz - didn't investigate that thoroughly)

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 6107/25/2012

I was here. You were pretending to be hetero.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 6207/25/2012

I watched the documentary - mostly it made me very sad as I've lost a number of friends to AIDS.

It just reduced me to tears.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 6307/26/2012

I was 17 in 1982 so I sort of came of age during the AIDS epidemic. I watched this last night while I was on Youtube and remembered to post it now.

It bugs me when I see people being so careless sexually. I look at the young men on the Sean Cody and Corbin Fisher site having bareback sex and just wonder what are they thinking? The "testing" they have done prior to the videos is meaningless as far as I'm concerned.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 6407/26/2012

Excellent documentary. Makes one think and cry. And thank those who helped all the sufferers. So much loss.

Have also recently been researching where HIV/AIDS started and the theories behind it. There really isn't a concrete answer, but it is still around and people really do need to continue to be safe. Sadly, I feel many teens feel they are invincible--not so.

I've also been listening to Queen and reading biographies and watching documentaries on Freddie Mercury.

I only wish he had lived a few more years until the proper drugs were discovered. It could have saved his life.

So many talented people lost before their time

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 6507/26/2012

Good post, R65.

I lost a dear friend who succumbed to the disease a few months before combination therapy became widely available (1995).

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 6607/26/2012

Sad...

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 6707/26/2012

For those who watched "We Were Here" and found it powerful (hard to say "enjoyed"), I recommend the new HBO doc, "Vito," about Vito Russo. Much of it is about his early years and groundbreaking work on gays in the cinema in "The Celluloid Closet," but I had never realized the extent of his activism around HIV/AIDS.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 6807/26/2012

I had high hopes for We Were Here but I thought it was done on the cheap. I've seen much better gay documentaries. The contribution of lesbians is given lip service by a gay man.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 6907/26/2012

The lesbian nurse was a living saint; I loved her.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 7007/26/2012

I assume that by "done on the cheap," r69, you are suggesting that they didn't have a broad enough focus and largely told the story through interviews with five people. That may be a valid criticism (I disagree), but where do you get your last sentence? One of the five people was a lesbian, and she talked extensively (and humbly) about her contributions.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 7107/26/2012

Is vito online yet?

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 7207/26/2012

It seemed kinda low-budget, but effective. And I always like firsthand accounts of this- the few that are left.

Pictures of emaciated bodies covered in sores should be required viewing for all these little fools that want to bareback for strangers. Sure, it might be a "manageable disease" like leukemia right now, but who knows what the future of AIDS will look like?

I'm celibate. I want to live.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 7307/28/2012

Exactly, R73. I'm in my 30's and I can't tell you how many guys my age and younger I have known who have casually barebacked. I can't believe such reckless behavior still exists. I agree that emaciated bodies of AIDS victims covered in sores should be required viewing for anyone stupid enough to bareback with someone they don't know. It's just complete insanity.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 7407/28/2012

R51 that was "And the Band Played On".

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 7507/29/2012

People who got HIV in the 80s are still dying of AIDS. It takes longer with all the new treatments, but they still continue to die before their time.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 7607/30/2012

I had it from Netflix for months, finally sat down and watched it a few days ago.

That nurse is one of my heroes.

One of the things that shocked me, and actually made me tear up a little was that in one of still pictures of the different volunteer groups, you can see a woman who is very clearly Nancy Pelosi, and probably from a time from before she was elected to Congress. I did a little more reading about what's she's done with AIDS, and the very first speech she gave on the floor of the House was about increasing AIDS funding.

I think the next time anyone puts her down, I'm going to tell them to watch this movie.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 7708/19/2012

"And that "licking the butt" doesn't transfer HIV?"

It's not exactly safe sex to "lick butt", unless you use a dental dam or some other barrier.

I recently saw this film. It really is worth seeing and is very moving.

I especially liked shy Ed, the gay man who was absolutely "terrible" at "anonymous sex." I loved the imitation he did of the looks gays guys would give each other in order to say without words "wanna suck and fuck? I'm ready when you are!" Ed said during the documentary that he had a partner, a much younger guy (the picture shown of the two of them together revealed that Ed's partner was quite attractive); I was very happy for him.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 7809/28/2012

I lived through it, do I need to watch it? Seems too sad. Maybe it's for younger generations or ignorant people.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 7909/28/2012

Just watched it on Netflix.

I'm not old enough to have lived through it, but had some idea of how awful it was. I cried through most of the film...how different would things be if all these guys hadn't died?

I knew the anti-gay vitriol at the time was bad, but it seems especially craven and mean-spirited (those are not anywhere close to being strong enough words) juxtaposed with the images of men wasting away, with lesions all over their bodies.

This has nothing to do with AIDS, but I was reminded once again that physical attractiveness really is God's little joke. They showed photos of these guys when they were young...they were all pretty cute. Paul Boneberg was the only one who retained his attractiveness, although all of them are truly beautiful in the ways that really matter.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 8010/29/2012

[quote]how different would things be if all these guys hadn't died?

Well for one thing our movies, music, tv shows and Broadway would all be a hell of a lot better.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 8110/29/2012

Does the documentary mention ME??? After all I'm patient zero.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 8210/29/2012

I just watched this. I'm 33. This and "How to survive a Plague" should be required viewing for my generation and younger gays. So many are so ignorant of our history and struggle.

Also, I'm fascinated by Rita Rockett now. What can you San Franciscans who were there tell me about her?

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 8302/04/2013

bump?

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 8402/04/2013

This is available in HD on amazon prime right now if you haven't seen it. Terrific. I am puzzled by whoever said it was done cheap (did you want CGI and explosions?) or that the people they interviewed were too self-involved (they were asked about their first-hand experiences!). I was not in any way shape or form involved with the community during this time period so this documentary did an excellent job of showing what it must have been like to be in the midst of so much death and sadness.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 8503/22/2013

My husband and I were in our 20s in SF at the time. We were a couple we only dabbled infrequently with others. We lost most of our friends within a couple of years. I have wanted to watch the film but I just can't. The pain is still too fresh.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 8603/22/2013

Thanks for the heads up, r85.

r83, I would add Silverlake Life to that list. It's incredibly depressing and awful, but it's the most personalized view of AIDS I've ever seen on film.

by Zak, all LGBT should watch itreply 8703/22/2013
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