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Home » ARTS AND CULTURE in CT » CONNECTICUT (all topics) » Victory Deferred
John-Manuel Andriote Talks to Attendees at the DC Launch of the Book
Victory Deferred

Part 2 - How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America

By Brian Scott-Smith | December 07, 2011

Previous Article in this Series

In the second part of our interview with author John-Manuel Andriote, he talks about the reaction to his book, ‘Victory Deferred’.

Victory Deferred

When Andriote’s book finally came out it in 1999, it was an instant hit, winning him praise and a 2000 Lambda Literary Awards ‘Editor’s Choice’ award and was also named an ‘honored book’ by the American Library Association.

“My book continued to tell the stories that Randy [Shilts] had introduced to the world. And I really felt in a way, especially since Randy himself died from AIDS, that as a journalist, it was important to me to feel as if I was sort of carrying Randy’s mantle, as it were, in continuing his important work.”

“ The review I was proudest of was from Kirkus Reviews, which called Victory Deferred the most important AIDS chronicle since Randy Shilts – And The Band Played On – and to have my book mentioned in the same breath as Randy’s book was an amazing accolade and I was very proud of that.”

Although Andriote may appear mild-mannered he’s no push over. And the original book, as well as the updated version, doesn’t shy away from asking pointed questions of lawmakers, the medical world and the gay community itself.

And truth be known, the new book was part of a personal journey for Andriote as he looked back over the last thirty years of the virus, but also because his own life was thrown upside down several years ago that helped to make his mind up about updating Victory Deferred.

“Well a big reason was my own HIV AIDS diagnosis in 2005, really gave me a different perspective on these issues. One of the most startling things for me, since my own diagnosis, was that HIV+ people had said to me, in my interviewing them over the years, was the view from that side of the ‘viral divide’, as they see it, is a very different view.”

“And now that I have been on both sides, I can truly say, that the view from this side of HIV really is very different. Now I see other gay men, who at the end of the day HIV is not their personal story and they’re able to enjoy the luxury that I can no longer enjoy of walking away from it as they care to.”

Andriote signing a Copy of Victory Deferred at the DC Launch

And Andriote is just as outspoken about gay and human rights organizations here in the US and their apparent lack of interest in supporting and educating people about the HIV epidemic, pushing it to more ‘specialist’ organizations, whilst they favor the fight over gay marriage rights and the now defunct ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy, recently banished from the US military. Things he says are important, but not to everyone.

“Even if we had full access to marriage tomorrow not all gay people would be interested in being married but I think it’s fair to say that all gay people are interested in their health and wellbeing. What is important to point out is that the people who financially support the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, tend to be middle class, white, gay and lesbian people who have the disposable income that allows them to support those organizations and those are the people who, at this point, tend to be privately insured, tend to be able to access the expensive anti retro viral therapy that it takes to live well with HIV.”

“But meanwhile it’s the people of color, the African-American and Latino men who don’t have money and who don’t have privilege and are not financial supporters of these gay political organizations. Those are the people who are most at risk, who get most affected by HIV in the USA. It seems to me that they have really been thrown under the bus by these political organizations that are really catering to a pretty bourgeois agenda.”

Strong words and strong opinion, but he stands by them.

And in Victory Deferred is Andriote’s willingness to bring up these matters of the heart through people’s stories, but also to prick the consciousness of us all to remind us, that in a world where AIDS, amongst certain age groups seems to almost have been forgotten, and drugs that help hold back the once hideous face of the virus, that AIDS is very real and still here. And that it’s more relevant and urgent today, than it was, thirty years ago.


Go to www.victorydeferred.com to discover more, and find out where you can purchase Victory Deferred.

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