A straight friend of mine sent me this link to a photo and an article about David Kirby, a young man dying with AIDS in 1990. While it's not shocking to me because I've been through it and seen it all before, it might be to some so you might want to think twice before clicking this link.
I can't post the photo here for copyright reasons, but here's part of the article where you can see the photo.
In November 1990 LIFE magazine published a photograph of a young man named David Kirby — his body wasted by AIDS, his gaze locked on something beyond this world — surrounded by anguished family members as he took his last breaths. The haunting image of Kirby on his death bed, taken by a journalism student named Therese Frare, quickly became the one photograph most powerfully identified with the HIV/AIDS epidemic that, by then, had seen millions of people infected (many of them unknowingly) around the globe.
Read more: http://life.time.com/history/behind-the-picture-the-photo-that-changed-the-face-of-aids/#ixzz2EhU7Ns58
I'd also like to add that what it was really like back then is written about, in great detail, in John Irving's latest novel, "In One Person." And it's the only novel I've ever read that went into that much detail and described things as they really were back then. Even the medical terms are accurate. If you are writing gay fiction and you haven't known anyone with AIDS and haven't read Irving's novel, you might want to check it out.
I'm too young to remember what happened in the beginning...during the 80's. But I do recall what happened in the 90's. In New Hope, we had one man who would walk the streets in a daze due to dementia caused by AIDS. He was in his early thirties. Everyone knew him and he was safe from harm. His family didn't welcome him back like David Kirby's family did. But at least he had a town full of people looking out for him. Unfortunately, he wasn't the only one I saw.