The Brig was a gay bar located in the Fells Point area of Baltimore, MD. The bar and bathhouse culture within the gay community was criticized by many both within and outside the community. It was seen by some as an unintended venue to spread HIV and a problem to be addressed. Conversely, the call to alter behavior and close specific bathhouses or clubs was seen by some as impinging on individual freedoms.
“BILL: . . . I went to leave with him and somebody pulled me back in and said, ‘You don’t want to leave with that man.’ And when all this came down that he had AIDS, I was like, o-o-h somebody was helping me. But this was back in eighty-five. I didn’t think a thing about it. It’s like Rubber [another bar patron] and I were talking about when he started having safe sex. And he said, 1981. He was already HIV.”
Interview with “Bill,” Shamrock Bar patron, 1999
The Shamrock Bar: Photographs and Interviews, 1997-2003
“I remember going into the Hippo [a gay bar in Baltimore, Maryland] and asking them to stop the music so we could recruit people for the study [Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study]. We were practically stoned—this was 1981/82/83/84. People said don’t bring us down; we’re out here having a good time, don’t talk about AIDS.”
Interview with Curt Decker, lobbyist, 1995
John-Manuel Andriote Victory Deferred Collection, 1901-2008