‘Quiet Heroes’ [film review]

When the HIV/AIDS epidemic first started in the 1970s, things progressed from confusing to terrible for an already marginalized community in the United States. However, there were two health professionals and a group of Holy Cross nuns in Salt Lake City who worked to help those who were HIV+ and dying of AIDS and for a long time, they were the only ones to do so in the entire state of Utah.

Quiet Heroes is a film that shares the story of Dr. Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder, PA, one of community, love, and resilience. The film shares how during a time in which those who were dying of AIDS were outcasts and shunned, Dr. Ries, Synder, and the Sisters of the Holy Cross treated them with such love and compassion.

The film also shares the story of several people who are HIV+ or died of AIDS and interacted with Dr. Ries and Synder during the 1980s and 1990s. Peppered into current day interviews are home videos of a couple people who did die of AIDS in the earlier days of the epidemic. These videos served as a reminder that the people who died of AIDS were people. They had and still have family and friends who loved them and still miss them. They had jobs and interests and hopes and dreams. These videos, at least in my opinion, are a stark reminder that we lost so many people in the epidemic.

This movie is a tear-jerking reminder of a tragic but important part of history for the LGBTQ community and the US at large. It’s a reminder of all those we’ve lost because of inaction in the midst of an epidemic and just how even a couple people can make such a difference.  The film is about just a small but still vital part of queer history and tells only one part of the whole story. If you want to learn more, there are many other films, books, and podcasts about HIV/AIDS and queer life/people throughout history. Here are just a few:

These days, things are much better in comparison to the beginning of the epidemic but HIV/AIDS, queerphobia, medical debt, stigma, and so much more all still exist. If you want to do something tangible to work on making the world a better place in regards to these issues, here are some things to do and organizations to support:

  • The Sean Humphrey House is a nonprofit residential home in Bellingham, Washington that provides a home and services for those who are HIV+.
  • Outside In is an organization in Portland, Oregon that provides medical services to homeless youth and other marginalized groups to help those most vulnerable be healthy.
  • National LGBT Health Education Center provides educational resources for health care organizations to help provide quality healthcare for LGBT folks.
  • The LGBT Community Center is located in New York City and is a community center that provides health and wellness programs, arts and cultural events, and parenthood and family support services.
  • Planned Parenthood is a national organization that provides a variety of medical services, including STD/HIV testing, birth control, cancer testing, and so much more.

You can watch ‘Quiet Heroes’ on Logo TV.