'On John Foster' by John Rickard

When Take Me to Paris, Johnny was first published in 1993, the AIDS crisis seemed to be at its worst. Many of us had friends and acquaintances who were dying. One began to notice men who, thin and haggard, one feared were suffering from AIDS (women victims being relatively few in number). There was no sign of the drug therapies that would, towards the end of the decade, begin to transform the treatment of AIDS. Only the symptoms could be treated, often with difficulty. Yet, as Robert Dessaix puts it, 'AIDS is a disease that excites narration.' Internationally, the AIDS memoir had already emerged as a genre of testimony, sometimes characterised by anger – particularly in America, where President Reagan had been slow to even acknowledge an AIDS crisis. At least in Australia there was a political consensus in the development of policies to deal with AIDS, to which the embattled but increasingly proactive gay community contributed (though, as John Foster records, the thoughtless 1987 Grim Reaper advertising campaign left him feeling, on Juan Céspedes's behalf, 'ambushed, stunned').

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in May 2016, no. 381
John Rickard

John Rickard

John Rickard is the author of Australia: A Cultural History (2017). In his youth he worked as an actor and singer.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.