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We Were Here

2011 (David Weissman; Bill Weber) PG, 90 minutes

“None of my friends are around from the beginning, so I want to tell their stories as much as I want to tell my story,” artist Daniel Goldstein tells us in We Were Here.

The “beginning” he refers to is in 1981, when a mysterious “gay cancer” — later to be known as AIDS — has begun its decimation of San Francisco's gay community.

Goldstein, a long-term survivor living with HIV who lost two lovers during that devastating first decade, is one of five people who look back at a time of fear, discrimination and hopelessness.

But if there's a lesson to be drawn from We Were Here, it is that AIDS was also a catalyst for hope.

That while men who had flocked to California's gay mecca, San Francisco, were dying in terrifying numbers, the disease also galvanized the community to care for those suffering; that it helped to heal divisions between gay men and lesbians as they struggled for equality; that it sped up the trial process for new drugs and that, in the end, it gave meaning and purpose to people's lives, including the dying. Bruce DeMara-Toronto Star

Bruce DeMara-Toronto Star

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