LGBTQIA+ History Month- #UnderTheScope
LGBTQIA + History Month- #UnderTheScope
Trigger Warnings: AIDS and HIV, loss and grief.
It is LGBTQIA+ History Month and the theme is ‘Medicine,’ #UnderTheScope. This is a time to celebrate LGBTQIA+ peoples’ contribution to medicine, past and present. This month will also shine a light on the history of the LGBTQIA+ community’s experience of healthcare inequalities.
The HIV and AIDS epidemic is a significant part of LGBTQIA+ history. Since the 1980s, the LGBTQIA+ community has fought long and hard to ensure those living with HIV can access treatment and live dignified lives.
Hannah, a member of the LGBTQIA+ Network at Inspire North has written a blog about POSE, a powerful programme about the HIV and AIDS epidemic and wanted to share their views!
This LGBTQIA+ History Month, I would like to recommend the extremely powerful programme POSE. The show was created by Ryan Murphey, Brad Falchuk and Steve Canals. The name represents “Vouge poses” which takes influence from runway and fashion model poses and turns them into a type of dance. Although Madonna sung the song “Vouge” in 1990, “Vogueing” first become popular in the 80’s.
The first time I heard about POSE was through watching Glow Up – the make-up competition on BBC One. In this show they had the artists design some of the make-up to showcase the “sass” and colourful nature of the Ballroom scene in New York that started in the 1970’s. The Ballroom scene was founded by Black and Latino drag queens that were otherwise excluded from White pageants within the gay community. These “Balls” as they were often referred too would display categories that members of “houses” would compete for in fashion, beauty, pageantry and many more to win trophies.
I thought POSE would be a good watch, however I wasn’t expecting the emotional journey it took me on. The story centres around two main characters – Blanca a Latino Transgender female who has recently tested HIV positive and Pray Tell a Gay Black man who later finds out he has the virus. We follow their journey of hardships but also the beautiful moments they experience within their personal and Ballroom life.
As we meet and grow to love each character, we slowly start to see the impact of the AIDs crisis as our beloved characters and their loved ones succumb to the virus. I found myself growing ever angrier at the treatment of the community and the lack of health care, research, and medication available for what is now a very treatable disease.
As a child growing up in the 90’s I really didn’t know anything about HIV or AIDS. The most I heard about is when I dressed as a princess for my 7th birthday fancy dress party, it was 1996, an older girl came up to me and said “Princess Diana is spreading AIDS why do you want to dress as her?” I hadn’t a clue what she was talking about?! What was AIDS? What she was referring to was Princess Diana’s work around AIDS. In April 1987 she opened the UK’s first purpose built HIV/AIDs unit that exclusively cared for patients infected with the virus, at London Middlesex Hospital. Instead, the misinformation was that she was “spreading it”.
I didn’t learn anything else about the AIDS crisis until I watched “It’s A Sin” in 2021. I realised that I had a huge gap in knowledge. This wasn’t even mentioned to me in school.
I will never truly understand the impact on each community affected by the virus or the lasting effect it still holds now. As someone who accepts their lack of understanding around this area, I recommend spending some time watching, reading, and speaking to people about the crisis, build your knowledge, and gain as much insight into this epidemic and its impact on the LGBTQIA+ community as you can.
We should never let the memories of those who lost their lives, who were denied treatment, who were stigmatised and those that lived in fear, disappear.
That’s why I recommend watching POSE. I promise for all the sadness we experience throughout the show, there are many glimmers of hope, family, community, love, and amazing, fabulous outfits.
Stream all the seasons on Disney Plus. It won’t disappoint.
It Is a Sin is also available on Channel 4 On Demand.
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