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Out Here: Gay and Lesbian Perspectives VI

Chapter 7

Australian HIV/AIDS Life Writing:
The Human and the Historic

Geoff Allshorn

There is a point, somewhere, usually in the future of a piece of writing, in its rediscovery as something other than what it first was, where memoir, recollection or diary turns into history…

– Stephen J. Williams.1

In 1988, US journalist Randy Shilts stunned the world with his seminal study, And The Band Played On, a monograph which documented the rise during the late 1970s and early 1980s of a deadly new world pandemic, and included biographical material on several afflicted individuals, particularly gay men in the USA. His writing marked the rise of a new genre: AIDS life writing. Australian authors would soon contribute to this emerging genre, which would later evolve into HIV life writings. This study will explore how these narratives document the lives and culture of Australians affected by AIDS during earlier times, and the social and medical transformation for those with HIV in more recent years. US academic Marita Sturken suggests the importance of cultural memories: ‘[t]he collective remembering of a specific culture… both defines a culture and is the means by which its divisions and conflicting agendas are revealed’.2 Such material constitutes part of our collective memory, which contributes to both the individual and national identities we construct in the present.

In recent decades, according to US academic Thomas R. Smith, ‘traditional’ biographies have been defined as novel-length linear narratives written by white males – with all other authors or forms of life writing slotting into a second biographical category (‘other’). Smith suggests that such categories are not ‘satisfactory’ because life writings do not often fit rigidly within established structures.3 Sociologist Ken Plummer expands the concept of ‘life writing’ to include a variety of human ‘documents of life’,4 such as auto/biographies, letters, pictures, web sites, films and tombstones.

In Australia, AIDS life documents encompass a variety of forms and narrative styles, including quilt panels, interviews, articles by people living with HIV and AIDS, diaries, photographs and documentary films – as well as art, music and fiction. This study will only document and analyse a fraction of these materials, focusing on public life writings. The texts examined here are mainly ‘traditional’ book-length life narratives, supplemented by one documentary film and two diaries. Other materials, including collections of interviews and shorter biographical works on people with HIV/AIDS, have not been included except when they directly contribute to the discourse as part of an emerging pattern during the last decade.

Literary Context

Life writings show how the universal is exemplified in individual stories. For example, Australian politician Rodney Cavalier proposes that diaries (such as those by Eric Michaels and Charles Roberts, discussed below) reduce the unfathomably big-picture to an individual reality which we can grasp: ‘[d]iaries serve history by providing a narrative of the day. Diaries are the record of an individual life. They record a life as lived’5 (and in this context, we could add: ‘and as died’). By extension, we can study such writings as narratives which are not only the product of their time, but also a time capsule. Cavalier was referring specifically to political narratives, but his principles apply equally to other life texts; in implicit connection, Australian academic John Wiltshire suggests that AIDS writings are ‘political and social statements’,6 while Dennis Altman explains AIDS as ‘a very political epidemic’.7

Life writings also show how individual stories reveal wider human experiences. AIDS life narratives can comprise what US academic Joseph Cady describes as ‘immersive’ texts, in that they immerse the reader into the full-blown horror of AIDS and thereby challenge public denial or avoidance of the ordeal.8 Similarly, Ken Plummer suggests that life narratives present the individual as part of a larger grouping of ‘collective stories’9 which portray a community of ‘auto/ethnographies’.10 Australian AIDS ‘auto/ethnographies’ are soon likely to be the only evidence of early AIDS experiences available in the public domain, because most of the protagonists within the early narratives are dead and the memories of surviving friends and families are growing dim. These texts deserve recognition because they allow the general public immediate, personal access to the lives and losses – and to the humanity and courage – of people belonging to this marginalised group. Reviewer Stephen J. Williams, whose quote prefaced this study, suggested that one such writing (Take Me to Paris, Johnny by John Foster) was history as much as memoir.

Historical Context

In Australia, AIDS arrived in the early 1980s as a largely feared and misunderstood phenomenon. It was contextualised as a doubly-stigmatised problem: a debilitating medical affliction which caused people to suffer from a range of dreadful and usually fatal diseases; and it was linked to homosexuality, which still faced stigma and some legal sanctions across Australia. (One early biographical account, published in the gay magazine OutRage, reveals that stigma prevented one young man from disclosing his homosexuality to his doctors, contributing to a delay in his diagnosis and probably hastening his death.)11 AIDS was later recognised as endangering other people as well as gay men, including haemophiliacs and other blood transfusion recipients; this led to transmission of AIDS being commonly perceived in terms of the social dichotomy of ‘guilty’ versus ‘innocent’.

A wave of AIDS hysteria swept Australia during the 1980s. A national scandal, involving Queensland babies being fatally exposed to HIV through blood transfusions, led to a call for the gay blood donor to face execution or suicide.12 The Grim Reaper infamously appeared on television community service announcements, as a cowled personification of death, to warn that AIDS was a personal threat to every Australian.13 People feared contagion through mosquito bites and swimming pools, from sitting on toilets or kissing, and from sharing food or water or communion cups.14 A child with HIV was banned from her kindergarten, and her family migrated to New Zealand to escape the prejudice.15 Gay men faced harassment or dismissal from their jobs regardless of their HIV status;16 others, including those presumed to be gay, faced the threat of ‘poofter bashers’.17 It is this context which shaped the HIV stigma that still persists, albeit covertly, in Australia to this day.

By the late 1990s, new medical treatments challenged the inevitability of illness and death. The death rate from AIDS began a steep decline and people with HIV generally began to live much longer, healthier lives. Subsequently, domestic HIV/AIDS largely disappeared from public discourse, even though new HIV infections remained a concern to public health.

The Evolution of HIV/AIDS Life Writings

Early AIDS life writings take the form of ‘pathographies’ – stories of lives contextualised by disease. John Wiltshire described AIDS pathographies in 1994 as ‘the (literally) dying protest of individualism… taking courage to speak of its experience only within the narrative of illness and death’.18 This study will show that pathographies form only the first two stages of a four-stage evolution of HIV/AIDS life writings, beginning during the times of horror and evolving into the calmer writings of modern-day long-term survival with HIV in Australia.19 The first AIDS pathographies, predominantly featuring gay men, were followed by a second wave of pathographies featuring those with medically-acquired AIDS. A third, transitional phase, featured people with HIV/AIDS whose stories were reflective of improving medical treatments and an emerging political activism. The final stage is the current era of ‘living with HIV’ in which long-term survivors reflect a new reality. Taken chronologically, these writings tend to fall neatly within these categories, demonstrating both their contemporary social context and their contribution to that narrative. In presenting this progression, these texts conform to the ‘generational’ nature of life writings20 – although they have evolved through a number of distinct ‘generations’ within a single lifetime, reflecting the frenetic development of HIV/AIDS within those few short years.

The people within these writings have not always disclosed the full details of their private lives. However, of those who have disclosed this information, gay men form the majority of writers or subjects. Following them, HIV-positive heterosexual women constitute the other early grouping of people within these narratives, possibly implying some underlying connection of disadvantage between these two traditionally-disempowered groups. Haemophiliacs and blood recipients appear later in this chronology. Conversely, although many lesbians worked to help their gay brothers during the crisis years,21 there appears to be no comprehensive history documenting their contribution. Further cohorts of people, including those deemed to be potentially at high risk, are either poorly represented in these texts or do not appear at all. This may reflect the relatively low infection rates in Australia outside of the gay male community, and the fact that such writing is not always the preferred option of some people who may prefer more orally nuanced shorter forms of writing. It is also possible that people from other backgrounds may remain reluctant to publicly disclose their HIV status.

In the Beginning

No significant AIDS life writing narratives were publicly available in Australia until the end of the 1980s. This silence during almost the entire first decade of AIDS in Australia was reflective of the homophobia and AIDSphobia which were endemic throughout society, as well as a societal reluctance to mention sexual matters.

During much of this decade, the Australian gay community shared information about their friends who were suffering and dying, but this material remained largely hidden from the general public. Ken Plummer observes that ‘[m]emories may be more than just the properties of individuals. There is also social memory’,22 and one of the very first public instances was the collaboration of Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli with members of the Adelaide gay community in the early 1990s to write an AIDS biography of a deceased gay friend; her gay advisers encouraged her, as a ‘safe’ heterosexual person, to disseminate this information into wider society.23 AIDS life writing thus became an extension of a gay tradition: a ‘coming out’ story, not just for individuals, but for a whole community.24

The first known public AIDS life narrative was exceptional in this chronology: it was not a book but a TV documentary,25 telecast a few weeks after the infamous Grim Reaper TV campaign, with the potential to reduce (or possibly heighten) community fears. This documentary did not feature a gay man nor express the common societal disapproval of such people; it featured a heterosexual woman.

The remainder of this paper presents a typology of narratives from each era, including an annotated listing of writings and a thematic summary of their pertinent themes.

Pathographies – Predominantly Gay Men (Late 1980s to Late 1990s)

The initial years were times of fear and confusion as gay men were struck down by this unknown agent, seemingly at random; and other people were also afflicted – though often more covertly. Even after confirmation of the causative virus, HIV, and the development of an HIV-antibody blood test, the medical community struggled to develop effective medical treatments.

  • Suzi’s Story (Ian Gillespie), Sydney: Suzi Lovegrove Family Trust with Pro-Image Studios Limited and United Telecasters Sydney Limited, CEL Home Video, 1987.

US-born Suzi Lovegrove was a young wife and mother who had been exposed to HIV during a previous heterosexual relationship; both she and her infant son, Troy, developed AIDS. The film documented her last weeks of life.

  • Unbecoming: An AIDS Diary (Eric Michaels), Sydney: Empress Publishing, 1990 [reissued by Duke University Press, 1997].

Eric Michaels was a gay US academic who arrived in Australia in 1982 before being diagnosed with AIDS. He kept a diary during the last year of his life, and it was published posthumously.26

  • Someone You Know: A Friend’s Farewell (Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli), Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 1991, 2002.

Jon was a young school teacher working in Adelaide during the 1980s until he was struck down with AIDS. He asked his friend, Maria, to speak out about AIDS after he died, and she subsequently wrote this tribute.

  • Take Me to Paris, Johnny (John Foster), Port Melbourne, Vic.: Minerva, 1993 [reissued by Black Inc., 2002].

John Foster’s memoir focuses on the life and death of his lover, Juan Céspedes, a Cuban refugee and US émigré.

  • Infected Queer: Notes of an Activist (Charles Roberts), Melbourne: Nosukumo, 1994 [limited edition].

US-born long-term survivor, Charles Roberts, wrote a set of unstructured diary entries which presented his life and thoughts as an AIDS activist. Although not a traditionally-structured autobiography, it incorporated many contemporaneous responses to the AIDS pandemic.

  • Holding the Man (Timothy Conigrave), Melbourne: McPhee Gribble, 1995; Ringwood, Vic.: Penguin, 2007, 2009; also adapted into a successful stage play by Tommy Murphy.27

Melbourne schoolboy Timothy Conigrave fell in love with his school’s football captain, John Caleo, and they lived together for fifteen years until they succumbed to AIDS.

  • How Far is it to London Bridge? A Journey through AIDS with My Daughter (Joan Hurley), Alexandria, NSW: Millennium Books, 1996.

Joan Hurley recalled the life and death of her young adult daughter, Caroline.

Summary of this Period

All of these pathographies focus upon the suffering and death of their protagonists and/or others around them, and these people face their fate with the same courage and dignity that are evident in their willingness to challenge social stigma simply by going public.

Suzi Lovegrove’s status as a heterosexual woman begs the question of why Australia’s first public AIDS life discourse does not feature our nation’s most-afflicted AIDS grouping: gay men. (Similarly, the last narrative during this period concerns Caroline Hurley, another heterosexual woman.) Furthermore, Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli – whose book is the first Australian AIDS life text to be accepted by a major publishing company – also wonders, ‘if I was a gay/bisexual man, would my book have been published?’ Nevertheless, the appearance of such material encourages others to follow – and it challenges prejudice: Maria receives hate mail from some Christians, and letters of appreciation from some parents who, having been estranged from their gay sons with AIDS, are led to effect reconciliation. While some schools invite Maria to be a guest speaker, a small number of parents ring her own school to complain that their sons may have been exposed to AIDS through their classroom contact with Jon.

In detailing the pain and frustration for people with AIDS, these life writings serve as a call for compassion: Suzi Lovegrove’s ‘life advice’ to her husband, Vincent, is to ‘forgive’; John Foster describes the loss of grace, strength and dignity for ballet dancer Juan Céspedes while Timothy Conigrave does the same for footballer John Caleo; Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli is unable to use Jon’s surname in her narrative.

These texts also evoke great intimacy, tenderness and inspiration in the midst of their tragedy. In John Foster’s narrative, Juan’s deathbed scene transforms a life of decline and despair into a story that Robert Dessaix describes as ‘something of unutterable beauty’28 and inspires Peter Craven to call Foster’s book ‘unparalleled in Australian letters’.29 The book testifies to the redemptive power of love, a conviction shared by Timothy Conigrave and Maria-Pallotta-Chiarolli, but a concept which many Australians would consider anathema to their views about gay relationships during the 1980s and 1990s.

The texts also contain open expressions of anger.30 Charles Roberts’ writing testifies to the motivational power behind strong emotion: ‘I am a rebel; I am antinomian. Antinomy keeps me among the living, keeps me living, alone with anger, rage and a few other “good” things in my life’.31 John Foster is outraged at the Grim Reaper, who has attacked the dignity and humanity of his dying partner. Eric Michaels’ anger inspires a partial parallel which arises from his knowledge of some indigenous Australian customs: ‘[u]pon death, an individual’s property, image, even name, must be obliterated’,32 implying that, although such silence may occur within some traditions, social obliteration is abhorrent to other cultures, including his own. His book, like all writings in this collection, is an attempt to oppose such erasure; ironically, it is now long out of print in his adopted home of Australia.

Pathographies – Medically-Acquired AIDS (Mid- to Late 1990s)

Although many haemophiliacs and others with medically-acquired AIDS became infected in the early 1980s, their life narratives were not published until the 1990s.

  • A Kid Called Troy (Vincent Lovegrove), Sydney: ABC Books, 1993.

Infected through paediatric transmission from his mother (see Suzi’s Story), young Troy Lovegrove was immortalised by his father, Vincent, in both a written and film narrative.

  • April Fools’ Day (Bryce Courtenay), Melbourne: William Heinemann, 1993 [various reprints].33

A memoir written by prominent writer Bryce Courtenay about his adult son, Damon, who died after receiving an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion.

  • Beyond Heartbreak: The True Story of Lorraine Cibilic (Christopher Smith), Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press, 1995.

Lorraine Cibilic was a housewife infected with HIV following a blood transfusion, and she campaigned to secure compensation for hundreds of people in NSW with medically-acquired AIDS.

  • Pink Balloons: The Story of a Young AIDS Sufferer (Beverley McGregor), Sydney: Ashton Scholastic, 1995.

A biography of Skye Bussenschutt, exposed to HIV through a blood transfusion, who died as a young girl.

Summary of this Period

People infected through medical accident evidently feel more isolated and stigmatised than some gay men, and this might explain why testimonies about their lives do not start to appear until later in the pandemic. Bryce Courtenay’s text remains the only major Australian life writing to publicly acknowledge that AIDS has spread to heterosexual and haemophiliac men, and he acknowledges its related stigma: ‘[f]or the first time haemophilia has become something to hide’.34

The two adult stories in this category express overt or implicit rage, while the narratives about children express no such anger – for example, young Skye Bussenschutt hopes that her blood donor will receive medicine to help him get better. Lorraine Cibilic’s efforts to establish ‘innocence’ and compensation for those with medically-acquired AIDS, but not for others, demonstrates the complexities posed by HIV/AIDS for some people from CALD backgounds.

The Transitional Phase (late 1990s)

In his second (1996) study of these texts, John Wiltshire redefined AIDS pathographies as ‘critical patient narratives’, that is, texts which allowed patients to present viewpoints and critical analysis beyond their medical compartmentalisation.35 His redefinition reflected the progression of AIDS life writings in Australia, particularly during this transitional stage.

These writings represent a reversal of perspective: while early autobiographers had presented their lives within the context of AIDS, autobiographers of the late 1990s presented AIDS within the context of their lives. This decade included the rise of the activist protest group, ACTUP, and the arrival of new drug treatments which began to prolong lives. Many people defiantly adopted an attitudinal change from ‘dying with AIDS’ to ‘living with HIV’, even though the protagonists of these texts would still ultimately succumb to the condition.

  • The Boy from Oz: The Peter Allen Story (Stephen Maclean), Milsons Point, NSW: Random House Australia, 1996.

Australian entertainer Peter Allen was the subject of a 1995 ABC TV documentary. Later, this biography was adapted into the successful stage musical of the same name by Nick Enright.36

  • Screw Loose: Uncalled-for Memoirs (Peter Blazey), Sydney: Picador, 1997.

The life and experiences of political activist and journalist Peter Blazey were typical of the way Australian society moved from the straight-laced 1950s to the bohemian experimentation of the 1970s, which included Gay Liberation and Mardi Gras.

  • Desire Lines: An Unusual Family Memoir (Peter and Richard Wherrett), Sydney: Hodder Headline/Sceptre, 1997.
  • The Floor of Heaven: My Life in Theatre (Richard Wherrett), Sydney: Hodder Headline/Sceptre, 2000.

Richard Wherrett discussed his life and career in the Australian theatre, and AIDS comprise merely one portion of his life in these accounts.

  • John Hargreaves, A Celebration: An Actor’s Life as He Saw It (Tony Watts and Genevieve Picot, comp.), Newport, Vic.: Parrot Books, 2000.

AIDS brought the final curtain call to the life of actor John Hargreaves. However, it was not the main focus of this book, which celebrated his life and works.

Summary of this Period

Although these narratives still feature illness and imminent death, they also show defiant self-empowerment and cautious optimism. Richard Wherrett reports little serious medical difficulty except for a bout of cryptococcal meningitis.37 John Hargreaves does not see his HIV diagnosis as an omen of immediate physical decline: ‘[i]n fact, when I found out that I had it I stopped smoking and drinking, and ate well, and I was probably healthier than I’d ever been in my adult life’.38 A slogan from the AIDS activist group ACTUP during the 1990s was ‘Silence = Death’, and these texts are evidence of this change of outlook.

Living with HIV (early 2000s onwards)

By the end of the 1990s, new medical treatments had transformed HIV into a more manageable medical condition enabling many ‘People Living With HIV’ to live longer. This enhanced the feeling of relative optimism which had developed during the earlier transition period, and this optimism was also reflected in the life narratives: formerly literary obituaries, AIDS autobiographies became testimonies to life written by long-term survivors with HIV. The small number of professional publications in this category suggests either that the Australian public now considers HIV/AIDS to be of little concern, or that continuing stigma perpetuates social invisibility.39 This stigma is being challenged by community groups such as those from Victoria which are listed below.

  • Legends: Positive and Proud, a Victorian Perspective (PLWHA Vic.), 2001.40

A booklet compilation of photographs and biographies of gay men, a positive woman and an Indigenous Australian who were lost to AIDS, many of whom were community leaders and activists.

  • Blood Ties: The Stories of Five Positive Women (Sally Trathen, ed.), Lane Cove, NSW: Finch Publishing, 2001.

The autobiographical stories of five HIV-positive women confront the fact that heterosexual women (and their male partners) are also at risk of HIV.

  • Positive (David Menadue), Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 2002; soon to be reprinted and available as print on demand.

Activist and teacher David Menadue became one of Australia’s longest-term survivors after being diagnosed with HIV in 1984. His book presents AIDS and activism within the context of his overall life.

  • Lessons Learnt (Robert Newey), self published, 2005.

Another long-term survivor, Robert Newey, produced a life writing which spanned some decades and included the early days of AIDS. His text is raw, and evocative of the savage impact of AIDS upon the lives of ordinary people in earlier decades. He recalls the illness and deaths of friends – but he also suggests that his experiences taught him many significant ‘lessons learnt’.

  • Speaker Biographies (PLWHA Victoria Inc.), c. 2006, Available at http://www.plwhavictoria.org.au/downloads/Speaker_Bios_Tes
    timonials.pdf, date accessed 20 February 2010.

A small, autobiographical list of positive speakers who are available for community speeches, including men and one woman. This is evidence of the dissemination of such material in new forms, such as the internet.

  • The Gay Hello: Stories from www.stayingnegative.com.au (Max McLean, ed.), Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre, n. d. [possibly 2009] with accompanying 2009 calendar.

A booklet collection of life narratives featuring HIV-negative gay men discussing how to avoid HIV.

  • Closer (Max Niggl, Project Supervisor), PLWHA Victoria Inc., launched 31 March 2010; along with
  • Changing Voices: Stories of Living with HIV (Jo Pearson, Prod.), PLWHA Victoria, 2010.

This booklet and accompanying DVD feature autobiographical narratives of speakers from the PLWHA Victoria Speakers’ Bureau.

Summary of this Period

David Menadue exemplifies the optimism characterising this new period: ‘[w]hile I don’t subscribe to the view that you can defeat something like AIDS with affirmative thought alone, taking an optimistic view about your prognosis is an important ingredient in your survival’.41

David Menadue has wondered whether his autobiography would be relevant in a new era of AIDS invisibility. ‘Is it too late?’, he asks. The public response to his writing confirms that survival stories are important. Newly-infected HIV-positive readers tell him that they have learnt from both his good and bad experiences, and David considers this kind of public disclosure by people with HIV/AIDS to be an important step in fighting social invisibility: ‘[p]eople need to tell their stories’.42 Although Robert Newey’s text is grittier than David Menadue’s writing, he also offers a reversal from earlier perceptions of AIDS. While revisiting the tragedies of earlier times, his writing suggests both community and individual resilience.

The shorter texts from this era also serve an educational role. Sally Trathen’s collection includes stories of HIV and disclosure in heterosexual families, fighting stigma by helping to ‘normalise’ AIDS in the public context. The speakers’ biographies from PLWHA Victoria serve a similar function, particularly by presenting HIV among people from diverse backgrounds; Max McLean’s material extends this educative role by overturning the traditional context of HIV/AIDS life writings and using narratives of HIV-negative gay men as a tool to promote safe sex harm reduction.

Conclusions

The life writings explored here chart the evolution of HIV/AIDS in Australian society and enable readers to share the journeys of people, past and present, who have been affected by this epidemic. Such material evokes the question of whether or not those affected by HIV/AIDS, who were once openly marginalised, may now have been more readily assimilated within society. By reigniting diverse recollections, emotions and responses to HIV/AIDS, a process Marita Sturken calls the ‘technology of memory’;43 these texts allow readers to construct a collective cognisance which provides a basis for our continuing cultural development.

Over the short life of this genre, these narratives have swung radically from suffering and death, towards empowerment and life – and they offer a call for acceptance and equality. Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli spoke optimistically at her 1991 book launch: ‘[o]ut of the AIDS pandemic may come greater social justice and understanding of human diversity’. Decades later, the latest HIV life writings offer the same challenge.

Sadly, our departed AIDS heroes suffer a new form of stigma: their removal from our folklore. Related life tributes – AIDS quilts, newspaper stories, arts and music, and candlelight vigils – have largely faded from public discourse. Fortunately, their life writings remain a valuable resource for our ‘social and collective’44 or ‘cultural memory’.45 Other people – those who live with HIV today – also deserve recognition as heroes in the ongoing struggle. Early AIDS autobiographer Eric Michaels challenged the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender community to claim their place in history – at a time that would turn out to be the very dawn of the epidemic: ‘[w]e need to take some responsibility for our own history, for conveying it to our young. It is not nostalgia. If one is going to go to all the trouble to be gay, one ought to do a more interesting and useful job of it. [Role] models exist in our very recent past. They should be recalled’.46 By the time his words were published, Michaels and many others had succumbed to AIDS. His call to gay people had symbolically become a wider rallying cry for those with HIV/AIDS, one which still resonates today.
 

Acknowledgements

Special thanks go to Dr Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli and David Menadue for being willing to be interviewed for this study; and to Dr Mirna Cicioni and Dr Michael Hurley for their assistance. Thanks also to Dr Graham Willett, Robert Newey, Charles Roberts, Kate Doolan, and the staffs of Positive Women Victoria, PLWHA Victoria, and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Endnotes - Chapter 7

1 Stephen J. Williams, ‘The Personal Will Be History, One Day’, Overland, no. 136 (1994), p. 84.

2 Marita Sturken, Tangled Memories: The Vietnam War, the AIDS Epidemic and the Politics of Remembering, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997, p. 1.

3 Thomas R. Smith, ‘Generating Selves: Issues of Self-Representation’, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, vol. 19, nos 1 and 2 (2004), pp. 59–60.

4 Ken Plummer, Documents of Life 2: An Invitation To A Critical Humanism, London: SAGE Publications, 2001, p. 17.

5 Rod Cavalier, ‘A Consideration of the Value of Diaries with Occasional Reference to the Efforts of Mark Latham’, AQ (Australian Quarterly), vol. 77, (September–October 2008), p. 4.

6 John Wiltshire, ‘A Narrative Quilt: Australian Pathographies of AIDS Criticism’, Meridian, vol. 13, no. 1 (1994), p. 59.

7 Dennis Altman, AIDS and the New Puritanism, London; Sydney: Pluto Press, 1986, ch.2.

8 Joseph Cady, ‘Immersive and Counterimmersive Writing About AIDS: The Achievement of Paul Monette’s Love Alone’, in Timothy Murphy and Suzanne Poirier, eds, Writing AIDS: Gay Literature, Language and Analysis, New York: Columbia University Press, 1993, pp. 244–245.

9 Plummer, Documents of Life 2, p. 30.

10 ibid., pp. 34–35.

11 ‘I Want to Construct Something Positive from the Death of Someone I Loved’, OutRage (March 1985), pp. 20–21.

12 ‘The Parents’ Plight – by AIDS Baby’s Father’, Courier-Mail, 3 December 1984, p. 3; ‘Die, You Deviate’, Midweek Truth, 8 December 1984, pp. 1–2.

13 John Tulloch and Deborah Lupton, Television, AIDS and Risk: A Cultural Approach to Health Communication, St Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 1997, pp. 85–88.

14 Derryn Hinch, AIDS: Most of the Questions, Some of the Answers, Melbourne: Bay Street Publishing, 1987, p. 24.

15 ‘Girl Taught All A Lesson’, Herald Sun, 22 November 1993, p. 11.

16 Jo McKenna, ‘AIDS Scare: Our Jobs Go, Say Gays’, Herald, 11 February 1985, p. 15.

17 David Buchbinder, Masculinities and Identities, Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1994, p. 56; ‘Gays Bashed in AIDS Hysteria’, Sun, 26 November 1985. For a detailed analysis which places AIDS attacks within the wider context of anti-gay violence in Australia, see, Stephen Tomsen, Hatred, Murder and Male Honour: Anti-Homosexual Homicides in New South Wales, 1980–2000, Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 2002.

18 Wiltshire, ‘A Narrative Quilt’, p. 49.

19 For a detailed examination of the dichotomy of distinction between HIV and AIDS, see, Michael Hurley, ‘When HIV is Endemic Amongst Gay Men’, in this volume.

20 Smith, ‘Generating Selves’, p. 59.

21 For example, see, ‘ACON: Commemorating 25 Years: Lemon AIDS’, Lesbians on the Loose, August 2010, p. 41 (back pages supplement, p. 4).

22 Ken Plummer, Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change and Social Worlds, London; New York: Routledge, 1995, p. 41.

23 Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, interview with Geoff Allshorn, Melbourne, 5 February 2010. Other references to Maria or her book, where not clearly identified as coming from her text, are taken from this interview or her supplied notes.

24 Plummer, Telling Sexual Stories, p. 50.

25 I have been advised that there was an auto/biographical TV documentary featuring a gay man which was produced around 1987, but have been unable to track down a copy from the TV station. This highlights the difficulty of securing such material as an historical resource.

26 Paul Foss, ‘Foreword’, in Eric Michaels, Unbecoming: An AIDS Diary, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997, p. xiv.

27 Tommy Murphy, Strangers in Between/Holding the Man: Two Plays by Tommy Murphy, Sydney: Currency Press, 2006.

28 Robert Dessaix, ‘The Dark Rose’, Meanjin, vol. 53, no. 1 (1994), p. 170.

29 Peter Craven, ‘A Rare Thing’, Voices, vol. IV, no. 2 (1994), p. 118.

30 Wiltshire, ‘A Narrative Quilt’, p. 55.

31 Charles Roberts, Infected Queer: Notes Of An Activist, Melbourne: Nosukumo Press, 1994, p. 15.

32 Eric Michaels, Unbecoming: An AIDS Diary, Sydney: EmPress Publishing, 1990, pp. 31–32.

33 At the time of writing, this book is among the ‘Top 100’ books on sale in a prominent chain of Australian bookshops.

34 Bryce Courtenay, April Fools’ Day, Melbourne: William Heinemann, 1993, p. 166.

35 John Wiltshire, ‘Decompositions: Some Narratives of AIDS Criticisms’, Mattoid, no. 50 (1996), pp. 107–119.

36 The Boy From Oz (theatrical program booklet), Playbill, NSW, n. d.

37 Richard Wherrett, The Floor of Heaven: My Life in Theatre, Sydney: Hodder Headline/Sceptre, 2000, p. 303.

38 Tony Watts and Genevieve Picot, comp., John Hargreaves, A Celebration: An Actor’s Life As He Saw It, Newport, Vic.: Parrot Books, 2000, p. 283.

39 For material on HIV stigma in Australia, see, David Menadue, ‘Are You Clean?’, Positive Living: A Magazine for People with HIV (March 2010), pp. 6–7; and Daniel Tarantola, ‘Stigmatisation, Discrimination: A Health and Human Rights Perspective’, HIV Australia, vol. 7, no. 3 (2009), p. 10.

40 David Menadue was the author of this booklet but he was not credited in the publication.

41 David Menadue, Positive, Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 2002, p. 1.

42 David Menadue, interview with Geoff Allshorn, Melbourne, 2 February 2010; subsequent information also provided by David.

43 Sturken, Tangled Memories, p. 12.

44 Sidonie Smith and Julie Watson, Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001, p. 21.

45 Plummer, Documents of Life 2, p. 235.

46 Michaels, Unbecoming (1990), p. 192.

Cite this chapter as: Allshorn, Geoff. 2011. ‘Australian HIV/AIDS Life Writing: The Human and the Historic’, in Out Here: Gay and Lesbian Perspectives VI, edited by Smaal, Yorick; Willett, Graham. Melbourne: Monash University Publishing. pp. 104–119.

Out Here: Gay and Lesbian Perspectives VI

   by Yorick Smaal, Graham Willett