We Were Here, 2011
Dir: David Weissman, Bill Weber, US, 90 mins
Beginning in San Francisco’s gay Castro Street district, around 1980, We Were Here manages to be both uplifting and powerfully truthful.
A riveting, moving, account of the fear, paranoia and prejudice that accompanied the AIDS epidemic as it ripped through the US West Coast gay community before making its way across the globe.
Combining first-hand testimony and archival material, this is essential viewing, documenting five survivors who chose very different paths to dealing with the epidemic. We Were Here reminds us what a terrifying enigma AIDS was at the outset, dubbed the “gay plague,” with almost half of San Francisco’s gay community testing positive within five years.
We Were Here emphasises the activism that challenged homophobic notions of the so-called “gay lifestyle” placing the spread of HIV in the context of the wider free-love generation.
As AIDS looms large across the world, infecting more people globally than at any time in its history, We Were Here is not only a testament to the courage and compassion of its original survivors but is also a timely reminder that this is something which has not gone away.
1 December is the World AIDS day.