The Hateful Legacy of Ronald Reagan And The Murder Of Gay Men In The Name Of “God”

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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29 Responses

  1. Well he was one of the idiots that thought straight people can not get AIDS

    Badge Society LGBT Forum

  2. Kris Gates says:

    Not to be contrarian, but much of Larry Kramer’s story has been pretty well debunked. Could Reagan have handled it better? Sure, but it was not as bad as Kramer (and thus, this article) makes it out to be. You can read more from a fellow liberal here and see how he factually debunks Kramer’s story fact by fact:

    • Steven Pope says:

      As one who lived through the Reagan era and watched friends die, your lack of disdain is reprehensible. Politically aware, most LGBT activist of the eighties, such as myself, were fully aware of The Reagan Administration’s complete lack of compassion and homophobia. It was in our faces DAILY. Debunk a cookie and clean those dishes from the kitchen sink, as your fodder for erasing the truth is certainly not liberal nor warranted.

      • Jason Rushton says:

        Well said Steve, I could’nt beleive what the person had said. Thank you for your battles through the 80s & 90s so that people like himi can have any sort of life.

  3. lazioroamer says:

    I am really surprised at the bad taste of the Bob Hope joke as he was very good in expressing his dismay at Anita Bryant’s anti Gay
    Save Our Children rant.
    He was very pro-gay in that

  4. J Chris Henry says:

    Kris Gates: I get the impression from your post that you are young (under 30) and/or from the south or mid-west. I WAS THERE, NYC in the 1980s. Between my work, church & (pre-internet) social circles I lost 27 friends to AIDS between ’85-’88.
    I joined a group tired of watching those we cared for languishing away hiding in their apartments because of the stares of horror they’d get at the store. Some died & weren’t found for several days.
    There was no treatment, doctors didn’t want to diagnose AIDS because of the stigma associated.
    We set up an all-volunteer AIDS Hospice House to make sure nobody died alone.
    The AIDS Crisis WAS THAT BAD.

    • So is Reagan to blame for people not wearing condoms? What about blame of leaders of other countries? What did they do? Why aren’t they held accountable?

      • Will Kohler says:

        Steven. no one knew about condom’s or even how to prevent then. That’s what research money was needed for. Also with am incubation period of up to two years at that time many were infected before anyone knew what it was. that’s why money for research was needed as soon as it was discovered.

  5. Scooby Don't says:

    Leftist swine are more pathetic than ever. Who cares what Reagan said? He surely said “Say No to Drugs” . How many slobs listened to that? Reagan has been out of office for 27 years. What’s your excuse now?

    • Steven Pope says:

      Disgusting. On behalf of those I’ve known who lost their lives to this disease, gain an education and try to be a better human, for your descriptive language “leftist” shows a complete lack of empathy, compassion, reasoning, and ultimately— intelligence.

  6. J Chris Henry says:

    Scooby Don’t: Reagan’s legacy sill resonates today primarily because he has been exalted to near sainthood as the model of Conservatism (regardless how deserved). As current Republican politicians attempt to be the most Reaganesque, we still hear the echoes of Ronny’s disdain toward fellow Americans.

  7. John says:

    Steven G. In regards to your remark, there was certainly a lack of knowledge about transmission for many years, and I would not put the blame for transmission on anyone. But what is being discussed here is the acknowledgment of the crisis and the U.S. being a leader in research and awareness. I can’t believe Nancy’s psychics didn’t warn her how devistating the crisis was and would become. I would like to say, “Keep fighting my brave sisters and brothers, you have the courage of champions. My love and support to you.”

  8. BruceMacDonald says:

    My dear and lovely first husband died of HIV in 1988. Whenever people get all dewy eyed for Reagan, I remember Sam. Two months before he died, he saw Reagan on TV from his hospital bed, pointed to him and said, “I’m dying bcause of him.” Sad memory.

  9. eldred boze says:

    Those of us who were active gays during this period remember the speculation as to what caused the disease. A germ transmitted by kissing, poppers, s and m,bottoms only,tops only, germs in gay baths. Of course God sent it to rid the earth of homosexuals while hetero Africans were meant to die because they were black. I will never forget the atrocity of the Reagan administration and the cries for deportation of Gays to concentration camps by the religious Hitlers, still present in our wonderful politicians today.

  10. john a says:

    J Chris Henry, your comment brought tears to my eyes. thank you and others like you for all the good you have done. but i also have to confess, bob hope’s joke made me laugh.

    • marc s cohen says:

      John a: a joke is designed with a certain set-up and a certain rhythm that makes us want to laugh at the punch-line even before we realize its contents. So, the fact that the joke made you laugh does not necessarily mean you condoned the sentiment but rather that you were caught in the little trap of a verbal technique. The responsibility for preempting such a reaction is that of the joke-teller who must edit out any inappropriate material. Reagan would be considered first cause in not acting responsibly, and Bob Hope would be considered second cause because of his insensitivity. You might be considered third cause but yours was only a momentary reaction. Shame on Reagan for not addressing the crisis in a timely manner and shame on Hope for his stupid joke. And shame on them both for making you laugh.

  11. JneDoe says:

    FINALLY someone tells it like it is! THANK YOU!!!!!

  12. Sheldon says:

    Dude, I really want to take your writing seriously, but if you’re not even going to proof-read it? “In 1981 with the emergence of the AIDS epidemic also came the emergence of the Christian Right, who which Reagen ushered into power…”

    • Will Kohler says:

      Done and thank you. This is a one man gig I do for free because other LGBT media is very lame and biased I have no editors and proofreaders like JMG, Towleroad and Queeerty, Bear that in mind and thanks for pointing that out.

  13. tom says:

    Will Kohler wrote: “Ronald Reagan was and always should be remembered as the President who helped bring back poverty to the masses,”

    [Right. the longest period of economic growth in 40 years. Unemployment dropped to 4%, the dollar doubled in value against the Mark, Pound and Yen and Jimmy Carter’s stagflation finally died, with home interest rates dropping from 18% to 7%. If you couldn’t find a good paying job you weren’t trying.]

    Will Kohler wrote: the President who changed American foreign policy, by selling arms to Iran,

    Bullshit. Carter sold the Shah F14s and KC135 tankers, radar and anti-aircraft missiles. The Iranians took over the US embassy under Carter, taking personnel hostage. The hostages were released under Reagan. For those who get their education from Hollywood, watch ‘Argo.’]

    Will Kohler wrote: “and forwarding the profits to right-wing Central American dictators to help fund their death squads,”

    [From Iran? Will needs a fact checker]

    Will Kohler wrote: “and most of all as the President who is personally responsible for the deaths of thousands who died of AIDS and literally wiped out almost an entire generation of gay men.”

    [Yeah, that’s what presidents do. The author overstates the case, as he is prone to do.]

    • Will Kohler says:

      By the end of Reagan’s two terms, the national debt had more than doubled.

      Bank regulations were eased. In 1982, the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act was passed, which removed restrictions on loan-to-value ratios for Savings and Loan banks. Reagan’s budget cut also reduced regulatory staff at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.

      As a result, banks invested in risky real estate ventures (sound familiar?). Reagan’s deregulation and budget cutting contributed to the Savings and Loan Crisis of 1989.

      Under Reagan expansion of stockownership rose to nearly 30% of American upper class households but still left more than two-thirds of the country shut out of direct benefits from the great bull market of the Age of Reagan. For the 70% of American households that still lacked any stake at all in the stock market, the Reagan economy was not quite so lustrous as it seemed to those enjoying the fruits of rising equity values. Real wages, which had increased steadily from 1945 to 1972 but then stalled through the stagflation era, remained flat through the 1980s as well. Unemployment declined from the atrocious highs of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but the high-paying blue-collar industrial jobs that had been the mainstay of the midcentury economy continued to disappear. (It’s important to note that this process began long before Reagan came into office, however.) In short, the economic outlook for middle- and working-class families who depended on wages for their incomes was still significantly worse than it had been during the 1950s and ’60s.

      As the financial sector displaced industrial manufacturing under Reagan as the dominant economic force in American society, the gains from growth came to accrue almost entirely to those with major investments in the market, while individuals dependent solely upon wages and salaries found it harder and harder to get ahead. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the wealthiest one-fifth of American households (those who naturally owned the most stock) saw their incomes increase by 14%. Meanwhile, the poorest one-fifth (who presumably owned no stock) endured an income decline of 24%,

  14. Kathrin says:

    ah yes, I remember ronald ray-guns. How did he become a hero?

  15. judy says:

    Glad someone had the guts to post this.

  16. rantlogic says:

    I was a young teen in the 80’s and remember all of this…And yet, out of those tragedies also came something else–Tolerance and Acceptance. Yes, there were horrible people calling for concentration camps, but the absolute horror most Americans felt at the idea, and their sympathy for the deaths, caused an awakening of our conscious in the matter of homosexuality. I firmly believe that, if not for the Reagan’s reprehensible behavior during that dark period, gay acceptance and marriage would not exist today.We children were not blind and deaf at the dinner table and sitting around the television; we saw and heard more than our parents probably wished. And it set in us a determination that this injustice would not be allowed when We were the Adults and in Charge. It set a fire under the gay community that burned hotter every year until equality and justice were finally in sight. I understand the hatred of Reagan and his policies; I hear what the author is saying; I’m still sad over the deaths of so many. But we took an invaluable lesson from this tragedy so long ago and will continue to fight for gay rights in the future so that it never happens again.

  17. Bob says:

    Please explain what muslim terrorist, that the left supports, worldwide are doing that isn’t uglier, crueler and more perverted than anything in this artical. Not to mention what they do to gays, even though many of them are, and their stand on women’s rights.

  1. December 1, 2015

    […] One of the most memorable and disgusting Reagan AIDS moments happened at the 1986 centenary re dedication of the Statue of Liberty. The Reagan’s were there sitting next to the French Prime Minister and his wife, Francois and Danielle Mitterrand. Bob Hope was on stage entertaining the all-star audience. In the middle of a series of one-liners, Hope quipped, “I just heard that the Statue of Liberty has AIDS, but she doesn’t know if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or the Staten Island Fairy.” As the television camera panned the audience, the Mitterrand’s looked appalled. The Reagan’s were laughing. […]

  2. January 24, 2017

    […] it did, in the first place, largely because then-President, Ronald Reagan, and his administration, did fuckall to address the rapidly-rising number of deaths from the virus throughout most of the 80’s. And it’s clearly no coincidence that two of […]

  3. February 7, 2017

    […] reached the astronomical levels that it did, largely because then-President Reagan did fuckall to address the rapidly-rising number of deaths from the virus throughout the 80’s. And it’s no coincidence that two of the […]

  4. November 7, 2017

    […] the former state Governor of California (and later US President who would later go down in gay history as murderous villain during the AIDS Crisis) Ronald Reagan moved to publicly oppose the measure. Reagan issued an informal letter of […]

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