Narratives, Dehumanization, and the AIDS Epidemic
We've now discussed how history and legal frameworks worked to create narratives surrounding the LGBTQ+ community that still persist today. We still see discrimination and violence. The use of propaganda to drive a narrative of fear has played, and continues to play, a key role in maintaining anti-LGBTQ+ narratives, legislation, and social conflicts. The following videos will demonstrate the impact of this as it relates to the AIDS epidemic.
The AIDS epidemic was ignored for years as it was viewed as only impacting the Gay community, and then those who used intravenous drugs. With both the Gay community and those who used intravenous drugs, society at large viewed AIDS as a consequence of their "lifestyle", assigning blame and also making it easier to explain away lack of empathy and lack of urgency. It wasn't until AIDS began to impact the heterosexual community that a shift began to occur. But, even for those who were heterosexual, including 13 year old Ryan White, stigma and narratives surrounding AIDS and the Gay community impacted them socially.
The following is a chilling example of the impact of anti-gay narratives and dehumanizing propaganda. The public and the nation's leaders laughed in the face of AIDS as it took thousands of lives.
**The content of this video may be triggering or difficult to view **
After watching this video, how do you feel? What did you think while listening to homophobic jokes, laughter, and general disinterest exhibited by the press secretary, and the press themselves? Think about what that reality must have been like, as friends and family fall gravely ill and lose their lives, to be ignored, laughed at. Remember, there was largely no effort by the government to engage in research for treatment, and no official name given, until it began to impact heterosexual people. Think about that.