Against the devastation of the 1980’s epidemic, the heartfelt memoir Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS chronicles the relationship between designer Derek Frost and pioneering entrepreneur, Jeremy Norman, who was diagnosed as HIV positive. From launching numerous queer nightclubs, such as Heaven, and setting up the charity AIDS Ark, their epic love story offers a poignant insight into this period of time.
In Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS, Frost writes, “For me and for J, this is the love and the completeness that we now feel for each other. We do not choose to fall in love. There is no choice. Love finds us. Through love we find home in each other. That’s love.”
“Love gifts you with unbelievable certainty. There can be few greater gifts than to find oneself truly loved. How easily might we have missed meeting each other and falling in love? Across all lives lived – past, present and future – our meeting and our falling in love still feels, now more than 40 years on, like our greatest stroke of good luck, our greatest good fortune,” Frost goes on to share.
Norman and Frost launched numerous famous queer nightclubs in London, including Heaven. Speaking about the significance of these spaces during the time, it’s noted in the book, “There they can be themselves. Heaven celebrates homosexuality. We extend our invitation to gay women and to all other queer people. More dancing: crazy dancing, smoochy dancing, show-off dancing, trance dancing, us and our tribe. Always the wild, heavy repetitive beat of the music lifting the crowd to ecstatic heights followed by romantic quieter moments. Passion aplenty is there. Love also.”
The couple also created AIDS Ark, an organisation that supplies anti-retroviral treatment to those who cannot afford or access it where they live. Proceeds for this memoir will be going towards further supporting AIDS-related charities around the world.
While this memoir provides a valuable insight into the 1980’s AIDS epidemic, it also explores and celebrates different forms of queer love such as romantic, passionate, self-care, and so many more. Throughout the book, Frost opens up about his journey with spiritualism and finding inner peace, writing, “What “other” love is this? What is this other love which is different from that between two people and within families? In the years that follow I will seek to forge a deeper connection with this other love; to discover there is no ‘other’; that all is connected; that all is one.”
Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS offers a bold look at this time period by leaning into the love part of its title, becoming a moving advocate for compassion and empathy. Former President of International AIDS society Professor Linda Gail Bekker described this memoir as, “Poignant and heart-touching; gives the 40-year global HIV pandemic a truly human face.”
Get your hands on a copy of Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS here.
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