On January 29, 1977, the disco-infused “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by upcoming Motown artist Thelma Houston began its 17-week Top 40 run on the Billboard charts.
The song throughout the 1980s and 1990s, became an unofficial theme song for the AIDS epidemic in gay male communities. American artist Nayland Blake created a work for the American Foundation of Aids Research about the epidemic that referenced the song and its significance in the community. An art exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia entitled “Don’t Leave Me This Way – Art in the age of AIDS” opened in 1994 containing various works about the epidemic. A 246-page publication of the exhibition also followed.