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The AIDS crisis in real time


Starting today, has a new baby sister – a side project I’m starting focusing on the history of the HIV epidemic in Australia.

Real Time AIDS is a Twitter feed, Facebook page and website that will re-highlight the daily events of Australia’s response to the early years of the epidemic, as they happened, but 30 years to the day after.

To put it another way, I’m live blogging the AIDS crisis, on a 30-year delay.

The month coming up marks the 30th anniversary of our first AIDS death, and the months and years following that were a time of hysteria, fear and ignorance that we had to fight to endure. While many of us remember at least some of those events, many of the details, the skirmishes, the daily grind of bad news in the papers, is lost. While few people would be interested in reading a lengthy compilation of those events, following Real Time AIDS on Twitter or Facebook will provide a reminder, every day or every few days, of where we were 30 years ago.

Most of the content will be drawn from media reports and other contemporaneous sources. A lot of it – especially in the early days – won’t be pretty, but I hope being reminded of those years of terror and struggle and death will help reinvigorate our efforts for the work that’s yet to be done.

As the website grows, it will also become a fully searchable, but incomplete, index of media, community and government responses to HIV in Australia – something I think would be of more than passing interest. Whether I can keep it up over the long term depends on your interest and my time. We’ll see.

Above: page one screamer from the [Sydney] Sun, 19 Nov 1984.


Tweet of the year

Well played, Mr Turnbull. Well played.

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Shit Tony Abbott Says

I couldn’t believe nobody had already done this, so I did it. My contribution to the currently-fashionable “shit ____ say” meme.

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Shit homophobic people say

Video from Lamda Legal in the US highlighting some of the egregious garbage being spewed by hyperconservatives in that country.

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2068: Entire world population gay due to chemicals in the water

XKCD’s massive timeline of “The future – according to Google search results” is the most wonderfulest thing I have seen in ages. Click the image to see the whole thing.



HIV/AIDS: A new first impression

Myles Helfand, editor of, writing in the Huffington Post on HIV stigma:

Never mind that more than half of all people in the U.S. who get HIV/AIDS are heterosexual, and that most people who get it are not injection-drug users. Or that it whittles away the immune system in the same manner regardless of a person’s sex, gender, race, age, education level, wealth, geographic location or the manner in which they’re infected.

It’s the first impression that matters. And that first impression was that HIV/AIDS was something sinners got for doing things they shouldn’t: Having sex with men. Using drugs. Acts of which God does not approve, as has been made clear by luminaries such as Pope Benedict XVI and Delaware’s masturbation-averse Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell.

Read the full article.

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Bedknobs and Backrooms


My friend Craig has a new blog, ‘Bedknobs and Backrooms’, through which he promises to progressively reveal a memoir of his life. Craig spent 16 years in Sydney as a dance party promoter, leather identity, and lad-about-town, so I expect there’ll be some juicy revelations coming.

Craig and I were fellow travellers through the Sydney inner-city queer scene through the 1980s and 1990s, a time when a community that was being savaged by AIDS rebelled and celebrated life through dance parties, art events and community organising. That period represents a significant part of our shared history and it’s not one that has been well recorded. Craig’s role as a participant and player in the scene should give him a unique insight. I know he has a powerful personal story to tell too.

Just one post so far but it’s evocatively and written and bodes well. Check it out.

Sydney Dust Storm


Tom Coates has put together a brilliant Flickr gallery of images from today’s dust storm in Sydney. Awesome stuff.

CC-licensed image above: Dustday in Laundry 2 by Mezza.

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You know you’re from Melbourne if …

Catherine Deveny’s column in the Age today is lovely. This is an abridged version:

YOU know you’re from Melbourne if …

  • When diarising anything in September you first consult the footy fixture.
  • You know Sunshine, Rosebud and the Caribbean Gardens are not as good as they sound.
  • You consider yourself a socialist yet you drive a European car and have a cleaner.
  • You’d rather sit next to Guy Rundle on a plane than Guy Pearce.
  • You think the slogan on our licence plates should be “Melbourne. The Coffee Is Shit Anywhere Else”, “Melbourne. Go To Sydney. We Hate Tourists” or ” Melbourne. What School Did You Go To?”
  • You know the word ”Moomba” means Up Your Bum, White Man.
  • You’re not happy Melbourne has been voted the World’s Most Liveable City. You’d prefer it was voted “Most Enigmatic, Tortured And Slightly Dangerous City”.
  • Any music by Paul Kelly makes you suddenly think of the Nylex sign and something about making gravy.
  • Jon Faine shits you but you can’t switch him off.
  • Pot, cantaloupe, potato cake and hook turn. Build a bridge and get over it.

The John Faine line is a classic. And totally true in my case.

CC-licensed Flickr image above: Lady Luck™

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