I just want to start off by saying that I knew that I was going to cry at some point while watching this movie, but I had no idea it would hit me as hard as it did. It tore my soul to pieces and I could not form coherent thoughts until 45 minutes after I watched this movie, so here we go!
For this blog post, I watched Longtime Companion which was a movie released in 1990 (5 years before I was born) and it follows the story of groups of gay men, who are all related to each other in some way, and it follows their journey from the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in 1981 and finishes the story in 1987 after AIDS has infested their lives. The title itself refers to the term that was used in newspaper obituaries to describe the loved one that was left behind after a death.
I do not want to spoil anything in this movie in case any of you do want to watch it, but I will just have a spoiler alert in here anyway.
First of all, I could not find this movie to watch anywhere. Amazon wanted me to pay $100 just to buy the DVD, but our dear friend YouTube had the movie in its entirety. The quality was horrible but it was still pretty watchable. The story was hard to follow at first because names aren’t important to mention in the beginning, I guess, but after a while, I got the hang of who was who and how they knew each other. Bear with me here:
The beginning starts off in 1981 with Paul and Howard, a couple living in an apartment in New York, and then it pans to their neighbor Lisa, and then it introduces Allen (Fuzzy), and a group of friends: Willy, John, and David. They being this story by reading in the newspaper about this new epidemic amongst gay men that they believe is caused by frequent sexual partners and drug use. No one really knows what it is. Fuzzy and Willy eventually meet each other on the beach, with John’s help. Fuzzy and Willy fall in love, and we are later introduced to David’s lover, Sean. These men are all faced with the possibility that this epidemic will catch up with them and their carefree ways, but because it is so new, they don’t take things as seriously as they should. However, this movie is structured so that every so often, a year passes and a member of the group either dies or receives news that he has the disease. The movie ends so that one of the couple just wishes that it could be over and compares the finding of the disease to the end of WWII.
This movie highlights what it was like for the gay population when the AIDS epidemic first came about. It was written about in the papers without a name at first and the lack of information on this disease lead to the continuous “carelessness” that came about in this time. As time went on and more homosexual males died from this disease, the panic grew, and rightfully so. AIDS is such a scary disease. I had had some experience with it reading some fanfiction that a friend recommended to me (no judgments here, right guys—also it’s called Twist and Shout but standbyme on AO3), and it hurt my soul, but watching it happen is such a different story. This movie does a good job of showing what it was like to live in the constant fear of just kissing your partner, much less make love to them, because there was a constant fear of contracting this disease. It hit me so hard, I think, because I know so many gay men and I can’t help but think that if they had been alive during the rise of this epidemic, there would be no hope for them. I think that the rise of this epidemic is so important to know about just because it lead to a complete shift in the gay lifestyle and lead to research on the disease, where they found out that it could be caused by other things. I also think this epidemic is important in understanding the stigmas that surround the gay community even now because for so long it was believed that gay equaled to having AIDS. This movie was so beautifully written and delivered, and I would definitely recommend sitting through the movie on YouTube.