“Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis” by Mattilda Sycamore Bernstein— The Trauma of AIDS

Sycamore Bernstein, Mattilda. “Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis”, Arsenal Pulp, 2021.

The Trauma of Aids

Amos Lassen

The trauma of AIDS affects every gay person especially those who lived through the epidemic. We learn, either directly or indirectly about those who came-of-age  when gay liberation was taking hold and then those who watched their generation die of the disease that the government closed its eyes to.  Today, we hear about people who have effective medication and treatment but cannot imagine what we once experienced. Mattilda Sycamore Bernstein in “Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis” reminds us that there is another generation between these two— the one that came of age in the midst of the epidemic and who “believed that desire intrinsically led to death, and internalized this trauma as part of becoming queer.”

Here are importantstories from that generation that has been invisible in AIDS literature and the politics of culture. This is a collection 36 personal essays about the impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis on our lives. We have varying and diverse perspectives that explore and explode what was thought to be known at the time and look at how we deal with the trauma that still exists in the present day. Hidden feelings come to life in the exploration of the inequality that continues to exist today.We read about the political and social conditions that have brought the social meanings of AIDS and sex that have influenced how we live. It brought back so many memories and I was reminded that who I am today is directly influenced by having been alive during the epidemic that took so many from us. Therefore I cannot say that this is an easy read for some of us but it is an important read for all of us.