In a Feb. 28, 1992, letter, Bradley wrote that “Heterosexual sex is very healthy in a loving marital relationship. Homosexual sex, however, kills,” referring to the transfer of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
She also wrote in a Feb. 11, 1992, letter, “Perhaps AIDS awareness should seek to educate us with their misdirected compassion for the degenerates who basically commit suicide through their behavior.”
In a Nov. 11, 1992, column, she wrote that “One will be better off contracting AIDS than developing cancer, because those afflicted with the politically-correct disease will be getting all of the funding.” Bradley added, “How sad that the lives of degenerate drug addicts and queers are valued more than the innocent victims of more prevalent ailments.”
And there’s the usual “she was young and dumb” defense, which … I was in college in Wisconsin in 1993, so a year after her. “Queers” was not something polite people said. “Queers” was something your grandparents’ dumbass friends said, if they weren’t talking about colored people.
Mr. A and I were talking the other day about how our generation’s straight people handled their friends’ homosexuality. It was still a giant thing to us. Like your new friend is coming out to you, they invite you to dinner and sit you down and very nervously tell you they have something important to say to you.
Then your reaction was watched for, like you were expected to have an opinion. You had the power to have an opinion, which seems insane now. The other day a colleague casually mentioned her wife. There was no buildup, no “I have to share with you that I AM TEH GEY,” it was just, “my wife said to me the other day.” People my age, while they tend to be accepting, grew up with learning someone was gay as a production, as this very fraught thing. As a Reveal, an Occasion, a Very Significant Moment.
Probably we also took a little bit too much credit in being accepting, like look how open minded we are, giving you your humanity! We were kind of dicks in the 1990s, is my point.
And we still never called anybody “queers.”
So while I am tempted to let Bradley off the hook because God only knows what intemperate shit I said when I was 19, she’s calling the PC whaaaaaaaambulance now, and this was going on at the time:
In 1992, an estimated 33,590 U.S. residents died from HIV infection; of these, 2% were aged less than 25 years; 73%, 25-44 years; and 25%, greater than or equal to 45 years. During 1992, HIV infection became the eighth leading cause of death overall (up from ninth in 1991), accounting for 1.5% of all deaths, and the second leading cause of death among persons aged 25-44 years (up from third in 1991) (16.2% of deaths). In 1992, HIV infection became the leading cause of death for men aged 25-44 years (up from second in 1991) and the fourth leading cause of death for women in this age group (up from fifth in 1991) (19.9% and 7.3% of deaths, respectively) (Table_1).
Stratified by race, HIV infection was the leading cause of death for black men aged 25-44 years during 1991 and 1992 (21.4% and 25.3% of deaths, respectively) and the second leading cause of death (preceded by unintentional injuries) for white men in that age group (17.8% in 1991 and 18.5% in 1992). HIV infection was the second leading cause of death for black women aged 25-44 years (up from third in 1991) in 1992 (12.1% in 1991 and 16.5% in 1992) and the sixth leading cause of death for white women aged 25-44 years in 1991 and 1992 (3.4% in 1991 and 3.8% in 1992). The death rate from HIV infection in 1992 for persons aged 25-44 years was three times as high for black men (136.0 per 100,000) as for white men (42.1 per 100,000) and 12 times as high for black women (38.0 per 100,000) as for white women (3.3 per 100,000).
People not much older than she was were dying by the thousands. That’s not a situation to joke about, no matter how old you are.