“It builds empathy and community when we tell our stories.”
Since October 2021, we have been interviewing people about their memories of HIV in Scotland for our oral history project.
In June, we held an event where several oral history recordings were played for individuals who lived through the HIV/AIDS Crisis. They were then prompted to share their own memories.
One oral history participant
[I] was 14 in ‘85 when I think Rock Hudson died of AIDS … I remember the absolute terror I had of HIV and AIDS. And I guess a lot of that was to do with the way it was kind of portrayed in the media and the stigmatisation of gay men and just the whole challenges around being a teenager, being gay in Scotland in the 1980s. Not an easy time you know.
This prompted a discussion among the group about media representations of HIV and AIDS. One person remembered watching Philadelphia with their relative and how important it was to have a film that represented them. Others spoke about It’s a Sin and how important the show was, despite being a difficult watch for many. One talked about the mother of a young gay man who was worried he would go to hell when he died from an AIDS-related illness.
Another of the oral histories mentioned Waverley Care’s Milestone House, the UK’s first purpose-built AIDS hospice.
“It was brilliant coming up here in this place, it was just so welcoming, it was comfortable, it was warm, it was dry, they had great food and they couldn’t have done anything more to help us out, to make sure that we could get into the place…
There are lots of other memories … the amount of funerals and deaths. I think every time I went into the room and saw [my partner] … I’m thinking it’s him next, it’s him next, it’s him next. I remember getting to the point I couldn’t go through to a funeral or a service when they were being held, because it was, just upset me so much.”
We hope that by preserving people’s memories of the HIV/AIDS Crisis, future generations will remember the people at the centre of the crisis.