We Were Here



The decade of the 1980s dawned on a San Francisco gay community with well-established political clout and a fully realized culture of sexual liberation. Gay Pride and Gay Power were in full bloom, and the Castro district — the epicenter — became a mecca for young gay people across the United States.

But the good times and the celebrations would not last. Two strange new illnesses descended in 1980 — a rare cancer usually seen in elderly Mediterranean men, and a type of pneumonia that appeared almost exclusively in organ transplant patients. Why were young, healthy men suddenly falling ill?

This timeline traces the path of destruction the HIV/AIDS carved through the city, and the heroic response by the people who lived there in a decade when it was more a war zone than a zip code.