This year for World AIDS Day, GLAAD is spotlighting some of the groundbreaking television programs, films, and documentaries that have made a meaningful impact in telling the stories of those impacted by HIV.
Since 1988, each year on December 1st, World AIDS Day is observed. It aims to serve as a reminder of the global struggle to end HIV-related stigma.
World AIDS Day is an opportunity to honor those we have lost, and is also a rallying cry to commit to working toward a day when HIV is no longer a public health threat.
FX’s 2018-2021 series Pose is among the most groundbreaking programs in recent history.
Pose depicted life in the 1980s for queer and trans people of color living in New York City. It spotlighted ball culture and the dancers and models who found their chosen family through the scene. The series also displays the realities of an HIV diagnosis in the 80s and early 90s for this community.
It’s a Sin
It’s a Sin is an HBO Max original series from 2021. The miniseries is set in 1980s London and follows the stories of a group of gay men during the HIV/AIDS crisis. Though only 5 episodes, the series demonstrates what life was like for the 5 men over the course of 10 years, living their lives authentically without letting the threat of HIV slow them down.
Currently airing on Showtime, Fellow Travelers is a period piece based on Thomas Mallon’s 2007 novel of the same name. The miniseries follows the relationship of two men, played by Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey, who’s love spans from “the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s, the drug-fueled disco hedonism of the 1970s and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, while facing obstacles in the world and in themselves.”
Queer as Folk
In 2022, Peacock released a reboot of the beloved early 2000s series Queer as Folk. The reboot brought a contemporary twist on the series that broke ground before its time.
Queer as Folk follows a diverse friend group living in New Orleans whose lives are transformed in the aftermath of a tragedy at a local queer bar. The series explores intersectional issues that exist for LGBTQ people, including an HIV diagnosis for one of the main characters.
MTV Entertainment’s Three Months starring Australian pop-icon Troye Sivan is a coming-of-age dramedy that follows a gay teenager who finds out he was exposed to HIV on the night of his high school graduation. Over the course of 3 months, the teen finds new love and friendship as he awaits his official test results.
tick, tick… BOOM!
Tick, Tick… BOOM! is a Netflix musical film based on the autobiographical musical by playwright Jonathan Larson. The story follows Larson, who later went on to write Rent, trying to break into the theater industry in the early 90s.
As Larson feels the clock ticking as it approaches his 30th birthday, he obsesses over having his musical produced, pushing away those who mean the most to him. Everything changes when he finds out one of his closest friends was diagnosed with HIV.
Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed
This HBO documentary highlights the life and career of actor Rock Hudson who starred in the 1955 film All That Heaven Allows. The change-making actor established himself as a well respected actor and “ladies man” in the Golden Age of Hollywood, before it was revealed he was gay and had HIV. His status opened up conversation about the AIDS epidemic and changed Hollywood forever.
Neon’s 2021 documentary Ailey chronicles the story of trailblazing dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey. The film explores life as a gay Black man making waves in the 60s-80s. Ailey tragically passed in 1989 from AIDS-related illness, but his legacy lives on through his dance center in New York City.
For more on World AIDS Day, visit GLAAD.org/WorldAIDSDay.