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"Postive Diary" 1
"Postive Diary" 2
"Postive Diary" 3
"Postive Diary" 4
MAY 30, 1989I just got fired, damn it. What am I going to do now? Maybe someone will
start another gay newspaper. Maybe I'll do another film. Maybe I'll just
stay permanently unemployed. But I'm glad to be out of that twitching paranoid
hellhole of a newspaper. My boss is a lunatic. Chuck Ortleb. His sole mission
is to prove everybody wrong about HIV, to prove that it isn't the cause of AIDS.
Pretty stupid stuff at this point. He sees government conspiracies everywhere.
His favorite expression: "He's C.I.A." I was known around the office as an HIV hardliner.
I always knew that my days were numbered. All I wanted to do was to write the news.
I also finally got tested for HIV. I'm positive. Shit happens. But I'm feeling
good right now; I haven't had any problems. The doctor says I'm still asymptomatic.
I sort of knew I'd be positive for antibodies to HIV. After all, my boyfriend Jim
died of AIDS in 1985. When his family wouldn't let me go to the funeral, and when his
brothers showed up at my door to take back what they referred to as "Jim's stuff," I
became an AIDS activist. I had been a teacher at City University, taught English and
had a part-time video business. When Jim died, I decided to do video full-time.
I would do what I liked best. I'd manage. My first job was to make a safer-sex video for
Gay Men's Health Crisis. I wish I knew about safer sex in 1982, when Jim first got sick.
I'd never heard of GMHC or Larry Kramer or Safer Sex.
That's the way it goes. I was never involved in politics or the social life of the gay
community. My friends were artists in the East Village. Jim was an avant-garde composer
electronically oriented. That was our world. I never went to the baths or bars or rallies
or anything. All that has changed. In 1986, when the gay rights bill was about to be
debated, I got what was the brainstorm of my life. I would film it. The result was
Rights and Reactions, which I made with Jane Lippman, Conrad Johnson and Geoffrey
O'Connor. Then I went to work for Ortleb and the NY Native because I wanted to
stay involved. Now, I'm on the street.
The last big story I did for Ortleb was a profile of the filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim, the
sexual wildman from Berlin. A man named Rosa; what a concept! I had met him briefly a couple
of years earlier at Gay Cable Network, and then at the Berlin Film Festival. He walked out
after five minutes of my film. He later told me he hated talking-head documentaries. I loathed
him immediately. But I liked some of his films, especially A Virus Knows No Morals, and
Anita, Dances of Vice. I didn't like the fact that he seemed never to change his clothes.
Always denim. But then I'm not the best-dressed guy in town. During the interview for the article,
he mentioned he was trying to make a film about AIDS activism in NYC which would inspire people to
join the fight. It sounded interesting. I asked to see a couple more of his films, Horror
Vacuithe Fear of Emptiness and Red Love. They were horrid. I couldn't see
myself working with him. He seemed so voyeuristic, so much an outsider obsessed with sex. He was
HIV-negative. It seems he liked to talk about that. He asked me to get involved. I told him I had a
job (little was I to know). I told him about my own experiences, being HIV positive, having lost my
lover, becoming radicalized by the experience. I saw him salivating.
"All Dressed and Tested with Nowhere to Go"
The New York Doctor, Op-Ed
September 11, 1989
"But as AIDS increasingly becomes a disease associated with
intravenuos drug use and the problems of the urban ghetto, the
reality is that the majority of them will learn they are
infected and will have no where to turn for treatment..."
"ACT UP, Others "Hold Die-In" at City Hall"
The New York Native
"An emotionally charged and boisterous crowd of over 300 AIDS
activists descended upon the evening's rush hour streets in
downtown Manhattan near City Hall to protest Mayor Edward I. Koch's
apparent intention to withhold $4 million in city funds allocated
"New Editor for PWAC Newsline"
Out Week, January 28, 1990
"Writer and filmmaker Phil Zwickler has been named the new
editor of the People with AIDS Coalition's monthly magazine,
Newsline, following in the footsteps of past editors Max
Navarre and Michael Callen. He comes to the position with a
distinguished record in film and print journalism."
PWA Coalition Newsline, March 1991
"When my doctor inserts a heparin lock intravenous
catheter into my arm, so that I might access a vein to let
my ganciclovir drip into my body, he does not wear rubber
gloves. This might be a mistake on his part, but who am
I to tell him? I guess he figures after doing this procedure
probably a thousand times, he knows what the risks are of
contracting HIV. In fact, he seems to know almost everything
about HIV, except how to stop it from ravaging my body.
No one else knows either..."