HomeHIV/AIDS1983. HIV/AIDS: Quentin Crisp declares AIDS is ‘just a fad’


1983. HIV/AIDS: Quentin Crisp declares AIDS is ‘just a fad’ — 6 Comments

  1. He wasn’t alone in downplaying the disease. I remember attending a standing-room-only meeting in Los Angeles in the early 1980s that was called by several physicians in the community to calm people’s fears. They made the point that the incidence of AIDS was statistically insignificant and that people should go about their business. Not the best advice, in hindsight.

  2. Quentin Crisp got a lot of cred from me for inspiring Sting’s song “An Englishman in New York”. Good to learn more about him, one man’s way of dealing with oppression. We will know liberation has arrived when we and our society have got past the jostling to shame and blame each other.

  3. Quentin Crisp was much better as a person in the late 60’s, The World In Action documentary is quite revealing, and he came across as an interesting eccentric character at that time. What went wrong? He became famous for being famous, by the late 70’s/early 80’s he was not so witty and clever anymore, fame had gone to his head, coupled with an incredible ignorance of the changes in the world around him. America embraced him, they just love eccentric English but he soured a lot of his fans there with his awful ignorant remarks about being Gay and the emerging AIDS epidemic. He should be best remembered for his life in London in the 1920’s-1960’s, beyond that. the world had already caught up with him, especially the Gay world, overtaken him, and he didn’t like it.

    • No – part of this is a simple misunderstanding that AIDS was actually very serious and was going to get much more serious.
      He was also afraid of precisely what happened – that the disease would be pushed as an exclusively gay thing and that gays would be seen as dirty and ‘diseased’ giving an further excuse for more and more victimisation, undoing the progress of the preceeding years.
      He also was not the gay campaigner the youngsters wanted him to be and had no intentions of being and no obligation to. He had done his bit and suffered for decades when his young critics weren’t even born.
      Finally there was always a culture gap. Whilst Americans like his English ‘eccentricity’ they fail to understand that the controversial opinions he held including criticisms of gay culture itself were hard formed in the forges of the pillorying and beatings he took over many years. “I don’t believe anyone has ‘rights’. If humanity got what it deserved it would be starved’ being an example. He meant it. He was never going to simply follow the crowd.
      He did make a mistake on this one – it was insensitive and he ended up being wrong – it didn’t just pass quickly. But to chuck him over for the sake of a single comment like that and from a man like Crisp is ignorance itself and quite unjust.

  4. It was an ill-judged comment but outright condemning him because of it is even more so. The determination here to trash one of the most significant, important and unapologetic queer voices of the 20th century reeks of the vile authoritarian ‘cancel’ ‘culture’ so prevalent these days.

    Crisp apologised for what he’d said immediately afterward and, as significantly, he donated much of his earnings to AIDS charities up until his death. He was a contrarian in every aspect of his life, particularly against ‘normality’. While I personally disagree with his negative comments about homosexuality in general, its normalisation in culture was bound to be fair game for him. The fact is that this normalisation was something he’d contributed to more than most. A true contrarian.

  5. If you were born in 1908… you can’t develop any feeling for an illness that appeared at the end of the 1970s! He didn’t know how to deal with it!

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