Last Men Standing [A&U, May 2016] the heart-wrenching documentary film by Erin Brethauer and Tim Hussin at the San Francisco Chronicle, premiered on April 8, 2016, to a sold-out crowd at the legendary Castro Theatre in San Francisco. After making the rounds of the film festival circuit, the film is now available, and free, online for personal viewing.
Last Men Standing explores the everyday difficulties faced by eight long-term HIV/AIDS survivors in San Francisco. All eight of these men are part of the AIDS Generation, diagnosed in the pre-cocktail days when a positive HIV test was tantamount to be a death sentence. No one ever imagined the difficulties and issues of aging with HIV, because no one imagined “aging with HIV.” Constant neurological pain, substance abuse, economic hardship, housing instability, costly bogus medical treatments, stigma, toxic side effects of medicines, and the never-ending grief and PTSD over the loss of friends and lovers during the height of the epidemic have all taken their toll.
Chronicle reporter Erin Allday, who wrote the original article on which the documentary is based, interviewed more than fifty men who have lived with HIV/AIDS for half of their lives, as well as doctors, activists, San Francisco city officials, and LGBTQ allies. Even after she narrowed her focus to just eight men, the story grew into a twenty-page supplement to the Sunday, March 26, 2016 edition of the paper.
“We want the film to be experienced all over the country,” Erin Brethauer has said. To that end, the Chronicle has made the film available online, free, for personal viewing. “We hope this film can reach especially those survivors living in isolation who don’t yet know about this loving community. We want them to know that they are not alone. We hope it sparks a conversation and brings some measure of healing to the community.”
To view “Last Men Standing,” log on to http://projects.sfchronicle.com/2016/living-with-aids/documentary/
—Reporting by Hank Trout
Hank Trout, Editor at Large, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a thirty-eight-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his fiancé Rick. Follow him on Twitter @HankTroutWriter.