Since the success of Russell T Davies's Its A Sin on Channel 4 at the beginning of 2021, our love affair with the style, fashions and music of the early 80s has revisited us in a brightly coloured haze of free abandon. Yet the dark subject matter of the AIDS pandemic of 1981 could be argued to have been somewhat clouded by this nostalgia fest.
Its A Sin as a dramatisation, is flawless. Beautifully scripted, casted and filmed, it homed in on the innocence of youth and what it was to be gay in London's vibrant scene. Yet there is a monster waiting in the wings to dull the lights, halt the disco and plunge everyone young soul into a world of a slow agonising death.
We weep at Its A Sin. We yearn for these lifeless young boys to come back and spring into the light again, yet, it's a true awakening and for most of us, the recalling memories of a time when the world stopped turning. Today, we live in a world of Covid 19 but for those of us over the age of 40, we have been here before.
So perhaps it's not surprising that the powerful AIDS documentary, After 82 has emerged from the vaults of equally powerful film making and is branching out into the headlines once more.
Bravely executed by producers and directors, Steve Keeble and Ben Lord, we are taken on a journey of raw emotion. We relive with the likes of Dr Rupert Whitaker and Jonathan Blake, the fear and shame of what it was to be gay and HIV positive in a world where those with alternative lifestyles were being beaten on our streets on a regular basis. Homophobia was as abundant as AIDS and equally deadly. The London Lighthouse, built from literally by the bare hands of those who were losing loved ones fast and furiously, became a place of sanctuary for those affected from all walks of life.
Hundreds of people during the mid 1980s, some even as young as teenagers, came to the London Lighthouse for care, support, help but also to die. Some with only a matter of a few days left to live rocked up at the doorstep and were welcomed in. Abandoned by their families, these people were going through a darkness that was unimaginably frightening. A the Lighthouse, they were suddenly amongst people who cared. Strangers to them, but ready to hold their hand in their final moments.
Today, 40 years old, The makers of After 82 are on another mission - to see the first ever UK National AIDS monument built in London. At the site of the Museum of Brands (now owners of the London Lighthouse after its closure in 2015) and along side Steve Keeble and Ben Lord, I have joined them in seeing this ambitious project come into fruition. The project is going bravely into the unknown itself. Growing daily, from only a small plaque to one of the most high profile and overdue events of a generation.
In the meantime, we have much work to do. Setting up the project, getting notables, joining hands across the board and back again and seeing this through in time for the 40th anniversary of the death of Terence Higgins in July 2022. It will be a full time job. Yet we are committed, and it will be thanks to those who come and join us between now and then, that our success will be down to.
Catch the latest news to date about After 82 in Vogue Magazine 15th March 2021.