for Larger Image
out fairly quietly, with a page 20 article in the New York Times on
July 3, 1981. "Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals"...."Outbreak
Occurs Among Men in New York and California -- 8 Died Inside Two Years"..."the
cause of the outbreak is unknown." For many local Texas readers
the story made the July 24 edition of "This Week in Texas (TWT)."
And the news was slow; in the next nine months only five additional
articles on the subject appeared. Then, in the March 12, 1982 issue
the first Texas death was reported: a local business owner, Clint Moncrief,
died of pneumocystis pneumonia. He was active in the community and was
leader of the Montrose Marching Band. It was just the beginning of a
crisis that affected many aspects of our community.
Various groups were already starting to react. The Gay Political Caucus
hosted an education forum in January 1982, with doctors explaining the
background and causes (as they were known then) of the disease, and
a lengthy article on these findings appeared in the February 5, 1982,
issue of TWT. The Karposi's Sarcoma Committee (KSC) was formed in June
and in July, along with the Citizens for Human Equality, they issued
a booklet, "Towards a Healthier Gay Lifestyle." The early
name, GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) would evolve into just AIDS,
as also KSC would evolve into the KS/AIDS Foundation and later, April
1986, the AIDS Foundation Houston.
As the crisis exploded efforts to assist were created or broadened in
almost every area, including medical, educational, spiritual, political,
In fact, in 1993 the Harris County Health Department published a 30-page
booklet just listing the different resources available. We will just
scratch the surface by mentioning the efforts of the Montrose Clinic,
Bering Care Center, Bering Dental Center, Montrose Counseling Center,
Body Positive Wellness Center, Stone Soup, Omega House, McAdory House,
Pet Patrol, People With AIDS Coalition, The Assistance Fund, Amigos
Volunteers in Education & Services (AVES), Colt 45s AIDS Trouble
Fund, Names Project, DIFFA, various churches, and ACT UP. Near the top
of every effort was the community itself, with its support of the seemingly
continual fundraisers, drag shows and benefits...they never seemed to
end, but they were and continue to be needed.
What is missing from the prior text is the human aspect of the crisis.
An analogy may be that of holding a camera, continually pulling it back,
to include more in the image. Countless individuals suffered through
the loss of a partner and of many, many, friends and acquaintances during
the late 80s and early 90s. During the worst years there were funerals
every day. These were the personal losses but these losses extended
to the greater community. We lost the talent and wit, the creativity,
humanity and leadership of these individuals. We lost what they could
have created for our culture, and the world. It is impossible to take
in all the elements of grief, anger, sympathy, activism, education and
hope, and how all of our lives are forever changed.
for Clint Moncrief
extensive coverage of the
AIDS crisis in Houston