Tilda Swinton attended 43 funerals in one year during AIDS epidemic

Tilda Swinton won an Oscar for her performance in the 2007 film Michael Clayton.

Oscar winner Tilda Swinton hatched many lifelong friendships while living in London as an unknown actress.

But the AIDS epidemic cut many of those friendships short including hers with English film director Derek Jarman who helped her find her way in her early days as an actress.

‘In 1994 alone, the year Derek died, I attended 43 funerals,’ Swinton says in an Out Magazine interview posted Tuesday (4 October).

This horrible time in the 1980s and 90s coincided with Great Britain’s Clause 28 which prohibited local authorities from ‘promoting’ homosexuality or gay ‘pretended family relationships.

The law was finally repealed in 2000.

‘When many of our friends became, often mortally, ill, and then the reactionary right wing started their ominously oppressive campaign of violence on the culture, well-being, and civil rights of the LGBT community and the wider diverse life of the entire country, we joined the vanguard of a resistance movement that needed to be highly active,’ Swinton recalls.

‘This is an extremely defined time in my memory … The Thatcherite Clause 28, which sought to prosecute and suppress queer culture – against which we campaigned in outrage – was an attack on the civil liberties of us all.

‘My grandmother, born in 1900, who lost two brothers and most of the boys she had grown up with between 1914 and ’18, counted the funerals and listened to the rhetoric from Parliament and said, “But, my darling, you are at war.” That’s what it felt like. She got it.’