During Russell T Davies’ remarkable five-part drama It’s A Sin, we follow five friends as they grow up in London during the 1980s as the horrors of the HIV/AIDS epidemic unfolds.
The decade bared witness to great tragedy for queer people, but it also saw the LGBTQ+ community and its allies rise up to demand equal rights, more support and protection, as well as challenging rife homophobia that had sprung up out of fear of the disease.
We see in the show our group of friends join protests to highlight the injustices and lack of support from the government for adequate care, medication and research for HIV/AIDS victims.
During the 1980s, ACT UP London staged many of these ‘die-ins’ which involved protestors laying down on a road or in a public space to represent the many forgotten gay and bi men and trans women who lost their lives to the virus.
Because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the stigma attached to the virus, attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community became hostile. This was fuelled further by a Thatcher-led Tory government and the introduction of Section 28.
In 1990, Outrage was formed to protest against discrimination and police brutality towards LGBTQ+ people. They led the charge on demanding equal rights and laid much of the groundwork for the legal protections for LGBTQ+ people that would come decades later.
Look through our gallery to see some of the most iconic imagery of LGBTQ+ people and our allies fighting for our rights before and during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
It’s A Sin airs at 9pm on Fridays on Channel 4, with all episodes available to stream on All 4 now.