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Remembering the ’80s HIV epidemic this Pride

This Pride, we are remembering a community’s struggle with a different epidemic decades ago. Raised by gay parents, a man recalls how HIV AIDS was impacting people around him and how a group of men called his “aunties” helped him pull through. This animated short is part of the new StoryCorps season “Father Figures.”

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    As we celebrate Pride this month, we are reminded of a community that has fought to have its voice heard and has endured a different type of epidemic, the AIDS crisis. Decades ago Stefan Lynch was raised by gay parents in the '80s as HIV/AIDS was taking hold on the community and people around it. He told his story of how a group of men called his "aunties" helped him pull through.

    This animated short is part of the new StoryCorps season "Father Figures." StoryCorps has been recording and sharing real experiences from people who have extraordinary stories to tell.

  • Stefan Lynch:

    My family were mostly gay guys who were my babysitters and the guys who took the pictures at my birthday parties. And I felt like I had this amazing family. I called them my aunties. And it was a really wonderful, amazing world that came crashing down. Starting in '82, the first person I knew died of AIDS, a young guy named Steve.

  • StoryCorps:

    And how old were you at the time?

  • Stefan Lynch:

    I was 10 when he was diagnosed. I remember I was on the beach at Fire Island and I saw him and he was covered in these purple spots. And within, I think two months, Steve was dead. And that was pretty much a succession of deaths of my family throughout the next decade.

    My stepdad, Bill, died in '87. My dad died in '91 after a really grueling six months of me taking care of him. I was 19 and summer break from college, I'm exhausted from taking care of my dad. And I called up my Auntie Eddie. I said, can you help? And within a week, he'd organized 40 people to do round the clock shifts. He was the only other person in the room with me and my mom when my dad died. A

    t that point, everyone had died except for a handful of stragglers who I now hold near and dear to my heart, my aunties. That was a powerful family. There was a lot of love. And they modeled for me how to survive an epidemic, even if you were dying while doing it.

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