Surviving the AIDS crisis as a gay Catholic
On the debut episode of “Plague,” America’s Michael O'Loughlin investigates the untold stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church. The release of the first episode coincides with World AIDS Day.
Mike is America’s national correspondent and he’s covered Catholicism for more than a decade. Mike is also gay and Catholic—and he’s curious how others have managed this sometimes complex identity in the past.
Through dozens of interviews and archival research, he’s found that no time in modern history was more volatile for gay Catholics than the height of the AIDS epidemic.
In this first episode, Mike tells the story of David Pais, whose journey exemplifies the experience of many gay Catholics who were personally affected by the AIDS epidemic in the early days. He describes the role his faith played helping him cope with his own diagnosis—and his struggle as he walked away from the church in anger.
“I distinctly stepped away—bolted might be a better term,” David told Mike on “Plague.”
“I can't spend all my time and energy, angry and fighting the church, when I have to use it for survival.”
David was one of many gay people protesting the church. But eventually, he decided to try and find his way back.
“It took me some time to realize that I’m as Catholic as the pope, and that my baptismal consecration made me as legitimate a Catholic as anybody else,” David said. “And nobody's kicking me out of my house.”
Learn more about “Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church” at americamag.org/plague