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The Poster That ‘Normalized’ Gay Sex

 

“FRIENDS and acquaintances were going to the hospital in droves,” recalled Robert Gray in a recent interview, reflecting upon the situation for gay men in 1984. “I remember men walking around the Castro with canes—that’s how you knew they were sick—the lesions on the bottoms of their feet were painful, and so they used canes to minimize the pressure when they walked. It seemed like hundreds and hundreds of canes.” Like everyone else at the time, he was scared and worried, “Is it going to hit me?”

Gray, a native San Franciscan and an out gay man, wished there was something he could do, when out of nowhere he was approached by a man who asked if he’d be willing to pose for a safe-sex poster for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. 

Daniel J. Demers, a writer based in the San Francisco Bay area, researches overlooked 19th- and 20th-century personalities and events (see www.danieldemers.com).

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