Find thousands of books, manuscripts, visual materials and unpublished archives from our collections, many of them with free online access.

We were here : San Francisco's year zero.

  • Videos

About this work


A film which documents what was known as the 'gay plague' in the early 1980s. The film focuses specifically on the stories of five individuals in San Francisco whose lives were changed in unimaginable ways. Guy was a dancer and flower seller, Eileen was active in opening up a women's clinic, Paul was backpacking with his boyfriend when he arrived in San Francisco, Daniel was a practising artist and activist in the city and Ed felt like a bit of an outsider to the openness of the gay scene there. They all remember what being gay in San Francisco was like in the late 1970s, prior to the AIDS epidemic. They describe how their friends began to get unusual symptoms such as kaposi's sarcoma and pneumocystis pneumonia; these were exclusively connected with gay men and so became known as gay cancer. Ed describes how he worked as a Shanti volunteer to befriend men infected with HIV, most of whom he saw die. Daniel and his partner Steve realised they were HIV positive early on and became involved in a pharmacological treatment trial which ended in the deaths of all participants except for Daniel. Paul began to work with an organisaion called Mobilization which aimed to get an effective response to the AIDS epidemic. All the participants talk about the devastating avalanche of deaths of friends and lovers. Eileen talks about the beginning of antiviral medication AZT and her work in the original test trials. All participants describe how the gay community pulled together to fight the spread of AIDs and to support those affected by the disease. Daniel started an organisation, for instance, called Visual Aid which helped to provide artist's materials to artists affected by AIDS / HIV; he remembers too the opening of Under One Roof, a store which aimed to provide funding for AIDS sufferers and was run largely by HIV positive volunteers. Ed now works in AIDs testing clinics and Daniel is surviving being HIV positive due to advanced medication. Paul is Director of GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco and continues to do international aid work for AIDs. Eileen is proud of her work with AIDs patients and on the pharmaceutical clinical trials and Guy still runs his flower stall, watching survivors of the epidemic passing by.


US : BBC 4, 2010.

Physical description

1 DVD (90 min.) : sound, color, PAL


Broadcast on 6 February 2012.

Creator/production credits

Produced and directed by David Weissman.

Copyright note

2010 David Weissman.



  • English

Where to find it

  • LocationStatusAccess
    Closed stores

Permanent link