Printer Friendly

Sex, text & epidemic: queer relationships, hiv/aids and adaptation in holding the man and remembering the man.


Talking about non-heteronormative orientations and relationships can be difficult, especially with young people who may be in the process of understanding and navigating their place within a broad range of sexuality and gender experiences. Using the various incarnations of Timothy Conigrave's celebrated Australian text Holding the Man, DION KAGAN offers ways to create a welcoming and respectful atmosphere and start conversations about sexuality, history, HIV/AIDS and adaptation.


Australian screen culture has a rich tradition of coming-of-age stories that use the experience of young people as a lens through which to examine questions of identity, history, culture and social change. The budding consciousness and formative life experiences of young people give writers and directors the opportunity to examine places and periods in Australian history through a kind of curious and often critical gaze. They youthful protagonists of these screen texts are frequently both insiders and outsiders to the affairs of everyday Australian life--they have intimate but idiosyncratic, or even troubled, perspectives on its domestic and kinship arrangements, its class and ethnic relations, and its stratifications of romance, gender and sexuality. The Year My Voice Broke (John Duigan, 1987), Flirting (John Duigan, 1991) and The Home Song Stories (Tony Ayres, 2007) are film examples from each of the last three decades; Puberty Blues and Barracuda are prestige TV series from the current. All of these are set in a not-so-distant past where the growing pains of teens and young adults offer audiences the opportunity to identify with and reflect on difference and diversity on what it's like to grow up as a migrant, a woman, working class, a non-white Australian or a gay man.

One such coming-of-age narrative is the 1995 novel Holding the Man, a powerful memoir of gay love and HIV/AIDS that has inspired acclaimed stage and screen adaptations and the recent documentary Remembering the Man (Nickolas Bird & Eleanor Sharpe, 2015). The memoir itself was written by actor, activist and playwright Timothy Conigrave and published only months after he died from AIDS-related complications. Frank and unexpurgated, penned urgently by an outspoken, passionate man dying tragically young, Holding the Man recounts Conigrave's relationship with John Caleo, a romance that blossomed, despite the odds, in 1976 at Melbourne Jesuit school for boys Xavier College, where Caleo was captain of the football team, and Conigrave, an ebullient, aspiring actor. Holding the Man pursues Conigrave and Caleo from high school to university in the late 1970s, as they traversed the curiosities and political convolutions of gay life in Melbourne and Sydney in the early 1980s, and through to the crisis of HIV/AIDS that dominated those worlds later in the decade. They were both diagnosed with HIV in 1985, and Conigrave lost Caleo on Australia Day, 26 January 1992.

Holding the Man--in all its forms--has had exceptional fortunes. The memoir has slowly but indisputably become 'an Australian classic', (1) has never been out of print, and is one of a tiny handful of works documenting the experience of being young and gay in Australia that have 'crossed over' from a predominantly queer readership to a larger, more diverse audience. Its theatrical adaptation, written by Tommy Murphy and first produced by Sydney's Griffin Theatre Company in 2006, became one of the most popular local theatrical productions of the last decade, and an acclaimed dramatic export with seasons in New Zealand, London and the US. The much-anticipated 2015 celluloid version, adapted again by Murphy and directed by theatre and film director Armfield, made the story's canonical status official. The film's trailer makes a confident declaration of the work's iconic status, encouraging new audiences to 'discover the great Australian love story'. (2) On the Seven Network's Sunrise program, Armfield's film was dubbed 'Australia's Brokeback Mountain'. (3)

The story offers much for classroom contemplation. With its mixture of irreverence, larrikinism and playfulness, elegiac elements of first love and loss, nostalgia for the sounds and styles of the past, and the sobering subjects of epidemic disease and grief, Murphy and Armfield's adaptation is a great example of the Australian coming-of-age genre--an accessible, relatable representation not only of growing up gay during the 1980s and 1990s, but of growing up in general. Students may watch the film independently, or they may read Conigrave's memoir alongside it. Read together, these two versions of Holding the Man can act as stimuli for the discussion of 'universal' coming-of-age themes like outsider experience and sexual awakening, but also the more specific social histories of LGBTQIA movements and HIV/AIDS in the 'crisis years' before the advent of life-saving antiretroviral drugs dramatically altered the implications of an HIV-positive diagnosis. Neither memoir nor film adaptation shy away from detailing John's devastating decline with HIV/AIDS; both texts include candid discussions of sex, politics, community, family and art.

Among other screening opportunities and classroom resources, the powerful documentary about Caleo's and Conigrave's lives, Remembering the Man, provides archival material to help students place this story in its historical contexts. And, as I will sketch out briefly at the end of this piece, Holding the Man may also be approached as a story that, beyond its almost folkloric status in Australian culture, takes place across four separate but related textual forms: memoir, play, narrative film and documentary. It thus offers teachers a unique opportunity to introduce students to questions surrounding the adaptation of real-life stories and literary texts for performance and/or for the screen. This may include questions about remediation (adapting something for a new medium), truth and dramatisation ('changing' the story to fit a new medium), the intertextual relationship between representations (how the different texts of Holding the Man shape each other's meanings), and different moments of reception (how the story changes when consumed by different audiences at different historical times).

Activity 1

Preparing for the man

The iconic status of the Holding the Man story and the powerful emotional experience of reading and/or watching it can be used to instigate thinking and discussion about broad themes. Author and journalist Benjamin Law wrote a moving essay about his response to the memoir, queer history and intergenerational dialogue among gay men. (4) Students may read this at the preliminary stage to spark discussion and table some of the themes and topics to come.

After watching Armfield's film (or beforehand, if students have been instructed to read Conigrave's memoir first), a set of s general discussion questions may be posed that can be applied to either the book or film, or both. These could be worked on in small groups that can then report back on their ideas to the whole class to prompt a broader classroom discussion. This exercise should be aimed at posing rather than answering complex questions, and sparking interest in the works and their contexts.

* At last count, Conigrave's memoir has been reprinted fifteen times and translated into three further media--play, narrative film and documentary film. Why do you think it is such a 'monumentally loved' text, hailed as 'one of the great love stories' (5) of our time? Compile a list of reasons why you think Holding the Man has been so popular.

* Like Law, many people describe their individual experience of Holding the Man, either in book, stage or screen forms, as affecting and unforgettable. 'The emotional journey it puts into words is vivid and immediate,' writes Ben Neutze about the book. 'Conigrave lets you so deeply into his life that Tim and John start to feel like close friends.' (6) What is it about Holding the Man that readers and audiences find so powerful and relatable?

* Holding the Man chronicles aspects of what it was like to grow up as a queer person in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. What do you think has changed? What has stayed the same?


Holding the Man in all its iterations may present challenges for the classroom because of the intimate, upsetting and/or taboo topics it candidly and sometimes explicitly broaches--queer culture and queer sex, open relationships, the devastating experience of HIV/AIDS and the stigma, suffering and grief it wrought. Grappling frankly and sensitively with these issues is not for the squeamish, but it shouldn't be avoided because of the awkwardness it seemingly portends. If nothing else, these texts present an opportunity for students to question their own understandings of sexuality, masculinity, family, relationships and love, and explore how these issues are understood in broader society.

One approach to discussing sensitive and taboo subjects is to cultivate a casual, humorous atmosphere in the classroom, a strategy very much in the spirit of many community approaches to discussing HIV, and a disposition modelled by Conigrave's memoir and its film adaptation. When deployed judiciously, levity can be an effective tool to dispel some of the discomfort of talking in a frank, sex-positive and non-judgemental way about the mechanics of sex, non-heterosexual and non-monogamous relationships, and the impacts of HIV/AIDS historically and now. These topics should not be treated as mysterious or taboo. Teachers should aim to cultivate an atmosphere of trust, exploration and mutual respect among students.

Another approach is to invite speakers from local LGBTQIA groups or HIV organisations. Living Positive Victoria's Positive Speakers Bureau, for example, offers tailored presentations delivered by trained HIV-positive speakers, and 75 per cent of their talks are delivered to secondary school students. A speaker can give a human face to HIV, and offer an informed approach to deconstructing fear, myths, stigma and discrimination, as well as matter-of-fact explanations of HIV and STI prevention, education and treatment,7 which is a strong tone to set at the outset of studying texts like these. There are many resources you can access to help answer specific questions about HIV/AIDS and its modes of transmission and prevention. The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has fact sheets (8) on its website, as do state-based AIDS service organisations like the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC9) and the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON). (10)

Before we used the acronym 'LGBTQIA', and before the now-encompassing public debates about marriage equality, there was the social and political movement known as 'gay liberation'. Broadly speaking, gay liberation focused on combating homophobia, and recognising and celebrating the loves and lives of homosexuals and other sex/gender 'deviants' as legitimate and worthy. Conigrave and Caleo's relationship unfolded during a time when homosexuality was becoming more visible in Australia. That many peers, teachers and family members were tacitly or even outspokenly supportive of their relationship was quite remarkable. When the young men arrived at university, they fell into circles that included members of Monash University's GaySoc, an on-campus political group influenced by the ideas and writings of gay liberation movements. (11)

Activity 2

Sexual culture in the 1970s and 1980s and challenging the status quo

The Holding the Man texts offer vivid glimpses into the rapidly transforming sexual and social politics of the recent past from the antipodean perspective, and can be used productively to present an introduction to these social movements, and how they played out in people's intimate lives. Teachers may want to use information on the history of gay liberation to give students a sense of how exciting and combustible these issues were in public and political : life at this time. Familiarising students with the historical context of radical social and sexual movements could take up several classes, during which students can discuss various questions about sexuality, sexual identity and relationships, using Holding the Man as a departure point. Some questions to pose:

* How do you think the ideas behind gay liberation impacted on and shaped the book and/or filmic presentation of Conigrave and Caleo's relationship?

* Do you think the aims of gay liberation been achieved?

* Is there a difference between fidelity (faithfulness) and monogamy (the practice of having a sexual relationship with only one partner)? Discuss this with reference to the representation of Conigrave and Caleo's relationship in Holding the Man.

* There is a prevailing stereotype that gay men have many sexual partners. How do you explain this association?

How does Holding the Man encourage us to think about 'promiscuity'?

* Do you think Armfield's film offers a positive representation of gay liberation? What challenges does it pose to Tim (Ryan Corr) and John's (Craig Stott) relationship?

Young people inhabit a broad range of sex/gender identities, many of which are connected to other parts of themselves, like their ethnic background, physical ability and class. The Holding the Man story doesn't account for everyone's experiences. Gay liberation and later LGBTQIA movements, HIV/AIDS activism, and queer art and cultural production all draw on ideas of diversity, collectivism and inclusivity, yet they themselves have often been charged with the silencing of certain people and groups. Holding the Man is significant for LGBTQIA culture in Australia, 'but it is also yet another reminder that queer and AIDS history is dominated by stories about white urban gay men, especially artists, writers and performers with the means to capture their own and others' stories. Students may or may not raise this, but teachers should acknowledge the broad range of sexuality and gender experiences that students might have. The politics of diversity and sexuality provide a good context for thinking about AIDS, a disease that, through its potential to affect anyone, pays little attention to the demarcations our society makes between social and sexual groups.

'ALL THAT SEX AND DEATH SHIT' HIV/AIDS in Australia in the 1980s

The tensions and freedoms generated by second-wave feminism, workers' rights, racial-minority rights and gay liberation became an even more heady brew during the crisis that was HIV/AIDS, a devastating epidemic for those it affected directly and a veritable tsunami for the politics of sexuality. The Holding the Man texts offer an opportunity to reflect retrospectively on some of the immediate effects of HIV/AIDS in Australia, including:

* its decimating impact on the newly visible gay communities in urban epicentres like Sydney and Melbourne

* the ice bucket it poured over the celebratory, sex-positive culture of gay liberation

* the homophobia it (re)ignited among conservatives, stirred up by the media

* the new forms of stigma it aroused surrounding 'risk groups' and certain types of sex and drug use

* the community-based action and activism it aroused and the art it inspired

* the radical global changes and developments in health infrastructures it set in motion.

One could easily devote an entire book to the profound rupture in Australian--and indeed global--life brought about by HIV/AIDS. Hundreds of books describing the medical, epidemiological, political and social experience of HIV line the shelves of libraries, from personal accounts (biographies) to creative responses (novels and plays) to an endless array of literature detailing scientific, medical and social research. Indeed, teaching about HIV/AIDS may feel like contemplating the sublime--it's hard to know where to start. Students may be encouraged to find and research a variety of threads of the epidemic as part of their homework or assessment tasks, and pool some of their developing knowledge. Another approach is to take cues from Remembering the Man and Armfield's Holding the Man.

Activity 3

HIV/AIDS as a social and cultural crisis

Start with the below questions that students can discuss in small groups of three or four. This should be aimed at thinking about the epidemic of HIV/AIDS as a social and cultural crisis as much as a health crisis.

* Where does your knowledge of HIV/AIDS come from?

* Why do you think AIDS was such a terrifying and scandalous disease when it first appeared?

This may be a good time to screen all or part of Remembering the Man, which includes vivid extracts from television broadcasts and shocking newspaper headlines from the early years of the AIDS crisis, depicting unmitigated public declarations of homophobia and AIDS-phobia. Teachers can place HIV/AIDS in a global context by screening an excerpt or trailer from one of several recent documentaries about HIV/AIDS in the US, such as How to Survive a Plague (David France, 2012), We Were Here (David Weissman & Bill Weber, 2011) or United in Anger (Jim Hubbard, 2012). These may help to strengthen students' understanding of the connections between gay liberation and AIDS activism that can, in turn, be applied to Holding the Man. Transmission: The Journey from AIDS to HIV (2014) may be particularly useful, as it is a recent record of Australia's response to the AIDS epidemic that also addresses the non-Anglophone world--Swedish filmmaker Staffan Hildebrand has captured the transformation of Australian and Cambodian responses to the disease over the past three decades.

Unlike previous epidemics, HIV/AIDS emerged at a moment when communication technologies could produce, reproduce and distribute messages more vividly and more widely than ever before. The alarm bells set off by a new, mysterious, debilitating and almost-certainly-fatal sexually transmitted disease were dramatically amplified in the case of HIV/AIDS because of its arrival in the brave new world of globally distributed media. The scale of the public sex-panic around the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and early 1990s was therefore unprecedented. Images of infection via blood and other intimate bodily fluids, sexual transmission, and gaunt bodies suffering and dying were frightening, and people were--understandably--terrified. These frightful associations became attached to the first groups of people affected by HIV/AIDS, which in the US, Australia and the UK consisted largely of gay men. Although HIV has no inherent relationship with any particular sexual, gender or racial category, from the earliest years of the epidemic, in Australia the disease has been associated with an already-stigmatised male homosexuality.

Information about AIDS was 'transmitted' in large part via the news media. Most journalists, politicians, photographers and television producers reporting on the disease in the public sphere had little or no connection with the communities affected by AIDS. They constructed images of sick, emaciated bodies waiting to die and moralistic narratives of 'innocent' victims infected by 'guilty' gay men, bisexuals, sex workers and drug users. (12) AIDS seemed to prove a kind of logic that people with deviant practices and sexualities were already 'sick' or 'diseased' in some way. Teachers may want to show students the infamous Grim Reaper commercial to instigate a discussion about the social representation of disease, and the association of people living with HIV/AIDS with danger, sexual deviance and death.

It is important to emphasise that these representations have material effects. The context of the AIDS crisis is a good way for students to think about the influence of media images, as the social and media construction of AIDS influenced the way in which people with AIDS experienced their own illness: whether they considered themselves healthy and viable or sick and doomed; innocent victims of the epidemic or its guilty perpetrators who deserved to be feared, loathed and punished. Since media representations were largely the only way most members of the public had 'contact' with a person with AIDS, these affected whether people would support funding for AIDS research and medical care, and whether a person living with the disease would be ostracised from the community, persecuted in public, discriminated against at work, or shunned as a lover or a friend. Teachers may show contrasting images from later years like Philadelphia (Jonathan Demme, 1993), Benetton ad campaigns, and celebrities wearing AIDS ribbons. Though in these examples, HIV/AIDS was viewed more sympathetically, 'AIDS victims' (in the language of the time) were still largely viewed as objects of pity. (13)

Activity 4

Disease as a construct of the media and culture

This will be an interesting concept for students to consider: the idea that diseases have meanings that come to be associated with them based on who suffers them, how they manifest physically, whether they are fatal or chronic, whether or not there is a cure for them, and how they are represented on screen and elsewhere. Cancer has certain associations, as does diabetes, as does Alzheimer's, as does AIDS and so on. The associations of a single disease can itself change and develop over time. AIDS, for example, was once a terrifying death sentence, but now means something dramatically different given antiretroviral drugs, when available, can make living with HIV a healthy and long-term prospect. An entire class could be spent thinking about this concept of 'the social meaning of disease', illustrated by a range of examples. This could lead to thinking about the Holding the Man texts as an important 'remedy' for understanding the experience of HIV/AIDS differently and as part of a movement in which people wrested control from the dominant media portrayal in order to share their own stories and experiences.

Screen the section of Remembering the Man that most closely addresses the social and media context of AIDS in Australia (approximately 35:00-46:00). Contrasted with the reading of Conigrave's play Soft Targets is footage of Reverend Fred Nile and Queensland mayor Dan Gleeson, who declared that 'all people with HIV should be put up against a wall and shot'.

* What role has media coverage of all kinds played in defining and influencing the way we understand HIV/AIDS?

* Can you think of other examples of the representation and social construction of disease? Have you seen representations of cancer, the flu, Ebola, HlMl? What do these diseases signify to you? What images are associated with them?

* In what ways does Holding the Man, both memoir and film, offer an alternative to these dominant representations?


In 1993, when AIDS was still claiming the lives of those who became infected with HIV and when no effective treatment yet existed, the National Library of Australia embarked on an oral history project to preserve people's stories. Two decades on, Conigrave's participation in this project enables us to listen to an oral history of his life with Caleo, narrated in his own voice, alongside other visual traces and retellings of this time. This record of individuals' stories about their experiences of living with HIV was part of the effort to reclaim control from the dominant media portrayal and retell the story in different and more compassionate ways. As Murphy has said:

Communicating the stories of HIV is crucial. Tim was a man of frankness. That's what it takes. Lovers and sex partners need to be frank with each other, and telling stories is a way of combating the stigma that has always been the bedfellow of HIV. (14)

In families and in ethnic groups, history may be passed on from generation to generation, but queer people have not had access to the same structures for passing on their history. Entire communities of people, as well as individuals, suffered the kinds of grief and loss depicted in all versions of Holding the Man. As Daniel Reeders writes, 'the challenge now is to knit together the narrative of our community's survival'. (15) One way of viewing Armfield's film is as a powerful and moving remembrance of gay sex, relationships, community, AIDS and death. Celebrations of gayness--including the remarkable, passionate but also flawed lives lived by Conigrave and Caleo--are, as Reeders writes, 'life-affirming rejoinders to a world that prefers the grief to remain unspeakable'.

A similar thing may be said about Remembering the Man. This documentary is a companion piece to Armfield's Holding the Man in which Bird and Sharpe get Conigrave to tell his own story. As they write in their directors' statement, they wanted to tackle the theme of HIV/AIDS in a documentary for a long time but had never found the right story--until now. [Conigrave and Caleo's] story is an intimate love story set in a time of war; it is a microcosm of the AIDS pandemic; a face to put on all the faceless victims of HIV; and an operatic story of tragedy and triumph. (16)

Bird and Sharpe have made a touching tribute that sets itself apart from the versions that have come before thanks to the use of much previously unseen and unheard archival footage, home movies, voice recordings and intimate interviews with friends of Conigrave and Caleo. Though, much like Armfield's film, the story begins at Xavier College in the late 1970s, it spends more time in Fairfield Hospital in the early 1990s, a place where the terminally ill were nursed in the weeks leading to their deaths, and 'whose important role in the AIDS years has never been properly explored'. (17)

With the advent of antiretrovirals in 1996, the meaning of HIV shifted dramatically. While this epidemic has become a global pandemic, in the lucky parts of the world where we enjoy access to these drugs, a once-almost-certain fatal diagnosis has become a chronic, manageable illness. There are around 37 million people living with HIV around the world--and in places with no access to drugs, some are still dying from AIDs-related illnesses. Sub-Saharan Africa remains most severely affected, with nearly one in every twenty-five adults living with HIV and accounting for nearly 70 per cent of the people living with HIV worldwide. (18) There are around 27,000 people living with HIV in Australia. (19)

Activity 5

HIV in Australia in the twenty-first century

It is important that students understand that living with HIV in twenty-first century Australia is different from the experiences had by Conigrave, Caleo and their peers in the 1980s and early 1990s. Again, some of the most useful resources around this are online. Teachers may set a research exercise for students in which they divide up a list of issues either in groups or as individuals, conduct research and present their findings in report form. Some examples of key issues that students can investigate surrounding HIV include stigma-reduction, criminalisation, compulsory disclosure, the availability of pre-exposure prophylaxis ('PrEP'), treatment as prevention ('TasP'), rapid testing, HIV among Indigenous Australian people, HIV and other STIs, women living with HIV, and drug use. This list could easily be expanded to present a more global perspective. Because these are complex, multifaceted and often controversial topics, students should be encouraged to consult reliable sources, collect factual information and report back without 'editorialising'. For their allocated topic/issue, students should do the following:

* Find four to five reliable sources online and gather key information on the topic.

* Write 700-750 words reporting on the key aspects of this issue. This can be broken down along the following lines:

* Background and brief account of the issue/topic (approx. 250 words): what it is, who it affects, how it came about

* Key conflicts, controversies or effects (300 words): what the differing perspectives or agendas are, how different groups are affected differently

* Recommendations and futures (200 words): what solutions or ways forward have been offered, where this issue is likely to go in the future, whether or not it is likely to be resolved.


Because of the deceptive simplicity of the memoir--its frank, candid first-person style that makes it akin to what is now commonly called 'YA literature'--it may be tempting to consider Holding the Man as formally unchallenging or 'un-literary'. However, there are more challenging formal elements for teachers to consider here, too, in addition to the thematic richness. In its multimodal incarnations, Holding the Man offers a unique opportunity to introduce students to questions surrounding the adaptation of real-life stories and literary texts for performance and/or for the screen.

Activity 6

Remediation, truth and dramatisation

What are the challenges and demands of different media, and how do the formal differences between book, stage and screen both limit and enable the ways that stories are constructed and reconstructed? Remembering the Man looks at the couple's sixteen-year relationship from a different perspective. Conigrave's personal, oral history provides the structural backbone for the documentary, with interviews and other archival material surrounding this key source. Given this primary source is audio, the filmmakers needed to use other material--photographs, archival footage, fictional re-creations--to 'visualise' the story for viewers. Ask students to compare and contrast the different approaches of narrative film and documentary.

* Is Remembering the Man different from the earlier iterations of the story in terms of perspective?

* Does Caleo seem different when you compare the memoir to the two film versions? Why is that?

* How do you think the dramatic re-enactments worked to flesh out the documentary's story?

* What changes occur to Conigrave and Caleo's story as it shifts to adapt to the demands of various media?

* How do the different demands of documentary cinema and narrative cinema construct the story of Conigrave and Caleo differently?

Activity 7

Researching reception

There is a considerable and growing archive of interviews, reviews, essays, live audio recordings, podcasts and other media responding to each adaptation of Holding the Man, in libraries and online. Considering the different contexts of adaptation and reception is a more advanced activity, in which senior secondary students can be encouraged to think about audiences as active producers of meaning, and texts as having meanings that change over time. Students should read one or more reflections on how Holding the Man's meanings have developed as it evolved from memoir to screen:

* Daniel Reeders, 'Love, Fidelity and Holding the Man', available at < -and-holding-the-man/ >

* Richard Watts, 'Holding the Man: From Page to Stage to Screen', available at < -article/features/film/richard-watts/holding-the-man -from-page-to-stage-to-screen-249027>

* Dion Kagan, 'Telling Our Love Story: AIDS, Adaptation and Neil Armfield's Holding the Man', Metro, no. 186, Spring 2015, pp. 6-13.

If you are considering the theatrical adaptation within this mix, students can listen to Murphy discussing the process of adapting the memoir for the stage in the Not in Print podcast. (20) Students should then undertake the following activities:

* Choose one adaptation of Holding the Man and discuss how you think its format and time of release have altered it. How has the meaning of the story changed over time precisely because new and different audiences consume it in different historical moments and in new forms? Discuss this question using evidence from your chosen adaptation.

* Watts writes that 'new Australian films based on Timothy Conigrave's 1995 memoir Holding the Man are like buses: you can wait ages for one, then two come along (almost) at once'. (21) Assuming this is not a coincidence, why have these two returns to Conigrave's memoir coincided so closely? What are the reasons to revisit Conigrave and Caleo's story now?

Dion Kagan is an academic and arts writer who works on film, TV, sex and popular culture. He has worked as a lecturer in gender, sexuality, screen and cultural studies at the University of Melbourne and LaTrobe University. Dion is a regular voice on fortnightly culture podcast The Rereaders and the queer columnist for The Lilted Brow. His book, Positive Images: HIV/AIDS and the Culture of Post-Crisis, is forthcoming from IB Tauris.


(1) Benjamin Law, 'Holding the Man and AIDS in Australia', The Wheeler Centre website, <http://www.wheelercentre. com/projects/the-long-view/holding-the-man-and-aids-in -australia>, accessed 28 September 2016.

(2) 'Holding the Man Official Trailer', YouTube, 21 June 2015, <>, accessed 28 September 2016.

(3) David Koch, in 'Oscar Buzz for Holding the Man', Sunrise, Seven Network, 12 August 2015, < sunrise/video/watch/29240681/oscar-buzz-for-holding-the -man/>, accessed 28 September 2016; see also Garry Maddox, 'Could Neil Armfield's Holding the Man Be Australia's Brokeback Mountain?', The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 2015, < -neil-armfields-holding-the-man-be-australias-brokeback -mountain-20150804-gile7c.html>, accessed 28 September 2016. Both Koch and Maddox are citing Ang Lee's 2005 film Brokeback Mountain.

(4) Law, op. cit.

(5) David Berthold, 'Holding the Man--A Personal Reflection', Carving in Snow, 22 July 2012, < au/2012/07/holding-man.html>, accessed 28 September 2016.

(6) Ben Neutze, 'Holding the Man and the Painful Laughter of Recognition', Daily Review, 15 June 2015, <http://daily -of-recognition/2536g>, accessed 28 September 2016.

(7) 'What Is the Positive Speakers Bureau?', Living Positive Victoria, <>, accessed 1 October 2016.

(8) 'Fact Sheets', Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), < -3jh2UaPww.>, accessed 30 September 2016.

(9) 'HIV Fact Sheet', Victorian AIDS Council, < au/hiv-fact-sheet>, accessed 3 October 2016.

(10) 'Who We Are', ACON, < who-we-are/>, accessed 3 October 2016.

(11) Witches, Faggots, Dykes and Poofters (Digby Duncan, 1980) is a useful Australia documentary on the 1978 police attack on demonstrators at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations and the community response to it, which can give students further background in the context of gay liberation in Australia. 2016 multimedia project Out of the Closets (forthcoming at time of writing) documents the story of gay liberation in Melbourne. For background reading, teachers may refer to the revised 2012 anniversary edition of Dennis Altman's Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation (UQP, St Lucia, Queensland), a seminal and early work in the gay liberation movement written by an Australian activist, and reconsidered in this edition in light of current debates.

(12) The literature on the representation of people with AIDS as dangerous, innocent or guilty is substantial. A good text for senior secondary students is Tamsin Wilton, EnGendering AIDS: Deconstructing Sex, Text and Epidemic, Sage, London, 1997. For an analysis of the Australian context, see Deborah Lupton, Moral Threats and Dangerous Desires: AIDS in the News Media, Taylor & Francis, London, 1994. The most substantial work on the Australian official response to HIV/AIDS among government and other agencies is Paul Sendziuk, Learning to Trust: Australian Responses to AIDS, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2003.

(13) See David Crewe, 'Over the Rainbow: Representation, Stereotypes and the Queer Prestige Film', Screen Education, no. 76, Summer 2015, pp. 50-9.

(14) Tommy Murphy, quoted in Samuel Leighton-Dore, 'Timothy's Legacy', Star Observer, 29 July 2015, <http:// timothys-legacy/139139>, accessed 28 September 2016.

(15) Daniel Reeders, 'Love, Fidelity and Holding the Man', Overland, 1 September 2015, < 2015/09/love-fidelity-and-holding-the-man/>, accessed 28 September 2016.

(16) Nickolas Bird & Eleanor Sharpe, 'Directors' Statement', Remembering the Man website, <http://rememberingtheman.>, accessed 28 September 2016.

(17) ibid.

(18) 'Global Health Observatory (GHO) Data', World Health Organisation, <>, accessed 1 October 2016.

(19) 'HIV Statistics in Australia', AFAO, 16 April 2015, <https:// -australia>, accessed 1 October 2016.

(20) Tommy Murphy, 'Holding the Man: I'll See You Soon, Angel', Not in Print: Playwrights off Script--on Inspiration, Process and Theatre Itself, 14 February 2013, podcast, < com/au/podcast/not-in-print-playwrights-off/id603327157 ?mt=2>, accessed 3 October 2016.

(21) Richard Watts, 'Remembering the Man', ArtsHub, 20 October 2015, < film/richard-watts/remembering-the-man-249614>, accessed 28 September 2016.
COPYRIGHT 2017 Australian Teachers of Media
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2017 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:TALKING SOCIETY
Author:Kagan, Dion
Publication:Screen Education
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jan 1, 2017
Previous Article:Critiquing the critics: part two.
Next Article:Thin in the tick of it tackling body image issues in the secondary classroom. (TALKING SOCIETY).

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters