Robert Reynolds reviews 'Tell Me I’m Okay: A Doctor’s Story' by David Bradford

Robert Reynolds reviews 'Tell Me I’m Okay: A Doctor’s Story' by David Bradford

Tell Me I’m Okay: A Doctor’s Story

by David Bradford

Monash University Publishing, $29.95 pb, 226 pp, 9781925523348

Midway through this account of his life as a gay doctor who specialised in sexually transmitted infections, David Bradford diagnoses his first case of AIDS. It is February 1985 and Bradford is the director of the Melbourne Communicable Diseases Centre (MCDC) and the chief venereologist of Victoria. His patient James is a working class Maltese-Australian man in his late twenties whom Bradford had met while conducting a clinic testing for syphilis at a gay sauna. James, a good-looking and popular patron, presents with troubling symptoms: black spots on his skin; swollen glands; weight loss. He is terrified. Bradford gently breaks the probable diagnosis of AIDS. ‘James looked like a scared school boy.’ He departs with a referral to the Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital and Bradford’s home phone number. Bradford watches him leave and then takes a moment to collect himself. ‘I trembled for the future. Was James the first of many? Was my practice now to become an endless succession of gay men turning up with AIDS … Was my lot going to be to provide a medical service for my patients as they gradually became weaker, and eventually died because their immune systems had shut down completely? What a grim outlook I was facing.’

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 August 2018, no. 403
Robert Reynolds

Robert Reynolds

Robert Reynolds is an Associate Professor in Modern History at Macquarie University. He is the author of From Camp to Queer (2002), What Happened to Gay Life (2007) and co-author with Shirleene Robinson of Gay and Lesbian, Then and Now: Australian stories from a social revolution (2016), published by Black Inc..

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 ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.