I went for a walk in Corona Heights Park in the Castro a couple Fridays ago after I heard the gay bars were closing due to the shelter-in-place order. Next to the fence where highly groomed dogs chased after each other, I saw a dead butterfly. And it felt like a poetic moment, like there was a rhyme to this city’s history. We have a coming plague of our own.
I came to San Francisco in 1993, right after high school graduation. People were dying, but I didn’t know them very well. I was young. Back then, the plague overwhelmingly afflicted gay men. Larry Kramer, a writer and LGBTQ rights activist, was screaming on TV that we were screwing ourselves to death if we didn’t practice safe sex.
I asked my friend Ed Wolf, a fellow writer and activist who worked in Ward 86 (the University of California SF’s AIDS research institute) during the early 1980s, whether my sense of déjà vu of the AIDS crisis rang true for him as well.