Inspiration for the story
The catalyst for After Francesco was How to Survive a Plague, the documentary by David France. My husband and I watched it together, and he turned to me and said, “I think we must have PTSD.” Until watching How to Survive a Plague, I hadn’t thought about that time in my life for years, and with this film it all came flooding back. I can’t recommend the documentary or David France’s book of the same title highly enough.
I wrote After Francesco because as we approach the 40th anniversary of the first Center for Disease Control report on what would become known as AIDS, the pandemic – as my generation of gay men experienced it – is becoming a footnote in some histories, and completely absent in others. The contemporary fiction by gay authors of the time is largely out of print, books like Facing It by Paul Reed, Eighty-Sixed by David B. Feinberg, A Hundred Days from Now by Steven Corbin, and The Body and Its Dangers by Allen Barnett. The gay writers we lost to the disease leave behind a legacy of what might have been – had this country decided that the lives of gay men mattered, had it dedicated the resources necessary to fight the crisis as it had done with Legionnaire’s Disease and Toxic Shock Syndrome.
And to be honest, I wasn’t ready to write about it any sooner. The distance of time made it possible, along with age: I’m in my 60s now.