You know what, Helen? As horrifying as the epidemic was, and as much terrible pain as it inflicted on people, something of a silver lining existed.
I say that very carefully and respectfully, because I know personally and deeply how much suffering went on.
Something else that happened, though, was that good people like you and so many others began to understand and be conscious of gay men. And to see us as simple human beings rather than as stereotypes or caricatures.
So many of us were forced out of our closets because we were ill; hiding was no longer an option. Once we came out, voluntarily or not, people experienced us for who we were and for who we are. Walls of homophobia began to crumble in many places.
I think you are story here today just one small but powerful example of that process.