“THE GIFT”–a major dose of reality

“The Gift”

A Major Dose of Reality

Amos Lassen

One of the most important documentaries ever made is “The Gift” because it gives us a major dose of reality. Not much has been done during the age of big medicine to prevent HIV infection-everyone talks about it but not much is done about it. Both the faces of HIV and AIDS have been greatly distorted in messages that pharmaceutical companies send out. Large amounts of money are spent on care for those who get the disease but hardly anything is spent on prevention. Recently we have not even wanted to talk about the disease and it is far from being over. How can we forget that the freedoms and the rights that we as gay Americans have today are because so many of our community gave their lives and the road to freedom is strewn with bodies of those who died from AIDS. I, for one, can never forget. Almost my entire age group has been decimated. I can remember being afraid to read the newspaper because of names that appeared daily on the obituary page. Now that AIDS has left the gay community, it I as if it has left our minds and that should not be.

“The Gift” is, for many, the only source of HIV infection prevention available when no one wants to talk about HIV. This is a subject that cannot be over spoken of and no one can see this movie too many times.

I have always felt that knowledge is power and this film gives knowledge and something to think about, to talk about and to act upon.

The power and the sensitivity of the movie are above all expectations. It takes on a tragic problem and lets us know how much more we have to do. Louise Hogarth has assembled a movie of great beauty and supreme sensitivity. She also brings to light several issues that have only been whispered about in the past such as “bug chasing” (but I will get to that in a bit). What “The Gift” does is bring about an understanding of why anyone would risk becoming infected with the disease.

Bug chasing is open pursuit of the disease. Some people feel that instead of waiting to become infected later, they actively pursue those who are already carrying HIV and deliberately have unsafe sex with them, As fatalistic as they may seem, many gay men feel that they will eventually become infected anyway so they openly go after carriers and become infected to “get it over with”. As ridiculous as this may seem, it is the reality of growing up in a world where HIV exists.

“The Gift” n aurally facilitates human responsibility. The film does more than deal with sexual orientation and it provides a valuable message to everyone regardless of who he/she has sex with. The movie deals basically with do or die and focuses on death affirming choices that some make when they renounce life affirming choices. It is a highly masterful and effective film and what it leaves with the viewer is a feeling that life is preferable to death. It pulls no punches as it looks at the issues and exposes the necessity for a complete overhaul of HIV prevention programs.

This is a film that all of us who are engaged in sexual contact with others must see—at least once. Seeing a self-destructive element in our society is the greatest wake up call that can be issued.

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