"1112 and Counting"
1,112 and Counting is an essay that was written by novelist and playwright Larry Kramer in 1983. It was published in the New York Native. The newspaper is a gay daily newspaper for the LGBT community. It was believed to be the first essay to be written about the AIDS crisis. The essay begins with the HIV death toll at the time. Sister Judy introduces a unique video, recorded by some of the Manchester Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
When news broke of Larry Kramer’s death on 27 May 2020, the report came amidst a turbulent background of racism, police brutality, Black Lives Matter protests and Coronavirus dominating the headlines but this one man’s passing resonated with me. I hooked out a copy of Larry’s collected writings on the HIV/AIDS struggle and found the article 1112 and Counting.
As I read this call to protest for the first time in years, it’s battle cry against institutional indifference struck me more than it had ever done before. Until now this was a piece of queer history to me, about another generation and other people.
Tears filled my eyes as I read about the powerful ignoring a virus hitting those at the margins hardest. I was enraged about blame being allocated on anyone and anything that differed from what our straight, white, middle class, patriarchal leaders thought was normal, acceptable or ‘moral’.
Although HIV can affect anyone, it affects some groups more than others, and the same is true of Coronavirus. What struck me was not the cruelty of these diseases but of the human response and the human systems of oppression that single groups out for increased chance of infection and social isolation – racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, sexism, ableism, ageism, the list goes on.
Larry Kramer understood this well, 1112 and Counting is shocking, he wanted people to sit up but it is also a hopeful piece – after Larry dissects the inadequate response to HIV, he offers a solution though collective action.
Some of the struggles we face today are different and are framed differently than they were in 1983 but collective action is still the best way for all our voices to be heard.
Even if a struggle is not yours, do not be indifferent; listen. Use your voice to amplify each other’s struggles because sometimes we all run out of breath.
The Manchester Sisters offer this collective reading of 1112 and Counting as a continuing call to action.
Silence = death.
Watch the video below.