Thirty years after the first overwhelming sense of fear that swept through New York City, the stigma of HIV/AIDS undoubtedly prevails. Though the majority of that initial fear has subsided, the virus continues to be a major problem in the United States and the rest of the world. The Normal Heart is the story of Ned Weeks and Dr. Emma Brookner, two fictional pioneers of AIDS during the beginning years of its epidemic. The play is an obvious wolf cry by author Larry Kramer, a vehicle of sorts to send a message to whoever will listen. However, as many times as I read it, I still find it effective and relevant. The lines of the play resonate like they are being spoken today, which begs the question: Has much changed in 30 years?
In addition to the humiliation that is attached to certain communities when speaking about HIV/AIDS, I try to understand the invincibility of current populations – the major rationale for currently wanting to continue to talk about this work. The indestructibility of the current generation is shocking; I have, personally, spoken with people that do not care if they contract the disease, as it is “not a death sentence anymore” and they can “live normal lives with some drugs.” Those statements are true. But, with that collective mentality, we stop ourselves short of supporting modern research in finding a cure. Thank goodness our government, scholars, and leading researchers in this country are committed to finding that cure, because I am afraid the general population is without concern.
I encourage you to check out The Normal Heart and its powerful monologues. Almost every character has very poignant moments throughout the show. There are multiple men with various ages and one woman (40s-60s) in the show. Happy reading!