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Don’t Ever Wipe Tears without Gloves

June 19, 2017

DEWTWG(Swedish: Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar) award-winning 2012 three-part Swedish TV drama about the impact of AIDS on the gay community in the early 1980s. It is based on the Swedish novelist Jonas Gardell’s trilogy with the same name, with each episode covering one of the three novels that are subtitled The Love, The Disease and The Death

 The main character is 19-year-old Benjamin, a Jehovah’s Witness who is beginning to come out as he moved to uni in a big city. He meets and befriends Paul and at a Christmas dinner party in Paul’s apartment he eventually meets Rasmus and they start a relationship. The gay club is like something out of thre ark but very true to its times – you ring a bell, they check you out through a spy hjole beforer letting you in. lots of old men chasing chickens.

We see a hospital scene where one nurse wipes a tear from the eye of an AIDS patient, which leads to the second nurse rebuking her afterwards with the sentence that is the title of the series

The second programme focuses on the relationship between Rasmus and Benjamin after they have moved in together. AIDS has started to spread among their friends, end eventually it also reaches them. When Rasmus is found HIV-positive, Benjamin finally decides to tell his parents and church elders that he is homosexual, in order to fully support Rasmus. This leads him to being shunned by the church, and forces his parents to stop all contact if they want to remain in the congregation.

The most poignant scene for me was when an up and coming actor was given his HIV diagnosis and promply went home and hanged himself as his car purred and tried to make sense of what was happening.

In the third programme, Paul’s funeral is like an opera, just like his life, Rasmus’ parents refuse to accept Benjamin’s request concerning Rasmus’s funeral, although they had been deeply in love and Benjamin had remained by Rasmus’ side throughout. This episode also includes some reflections by the surviving Benjamin over 20 years later.

I have just finished the last episode – tearfully.  It is very true to the period – a friend of mine was cremated in a black bin bag at the age of 25. If hospital staff knew you were gay they isolated you and approached you in masks and gloves etc. Many partners were denied their wishes for the funeral of their loved one – overridden by parents. Some weren’t even allowed to attend, let alone be the chief mourner. Anything to hide homosexuality or AIDs. Even church ministers colluded with talk of ‘cancer’ and ‘girlfriend.’

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From → Film, Sexuality

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