Actor Rupert Everett has given an brutally honest interview to The Guardian, painting a picture of life as a gay man during the HIV and AIDS crisis of the 1980s.
The quotes make for essential reading, whether you were born before, during, or after the crisis.
The star of stage and screen, who has appeared in movies such as My Best Friend’s Wedding and A Royal Night Out, said: ‘That whole period, I was living in basic terror for my life.’
‘That was my whole world – of every 60 seconds, 30 were in sheer panic’
He furthermore added: ‘I’d had a very promiscuous sex life from the moment I arrived in London. I’d thrown myself into the gay world, coming from this convent background, and then Aids began and there was no way of finding out if you carried the virus until 1985, the HIV test.
‘So my whole world, lots of people that I’d been with, were dying. And dying in a most terrifying way. Everybody was terrorised by the disease. Even people who loved you, your family, you’d notice them taking your plate and washing it separately.
‘That was my whole world – of every 60 seconds, 30 were in sheer panic. Especially being in front of a camera; I lived in fear of a cameraman saying: “What’s that on your face, Rupert?”‘
Since the mid-1990s, and the advent of effective medication, the majority of people diagnosed early with HIV are now expected to live a lifespan comparable with someone who is HIV negative.
Rupert shot to fame in the 1984 film Another Country. In the intervening years, he was one of the few openly gay actors in Hollywood to land leading roles.
Talking about his early career coinciding with the AIDS crisis, he added: ‘I was always wondering where I would go to hide. You were getting quite famous on the one hand, and on the other, preparing to disappear completely.’
Rupert recently returned to the small screen for the BBC Two TV series Quacks, a sitcom about Victorian medical pioneers.