The Plague: Popular Culture

The aspect of homosexuality that Lippincott exemplifies also brought to the forefront the statistical facts about the relationship between homosexuality and HIV/AIDS. It is obvious that Andy Lippincott already faced the stigmatization that came with being homosexual. The plague mentality associated with HIV/AIDS was another factor that would bring more stigmatization to him. In this regards, it is quite obvious that he was likely to suffer the brunt of HIV/AIDS more than the rest of the population. While this was a case that was evident in the early 90s, the contemporary world faces the same issues in regards to homosexuality, HIV/AIDS and stigmatization. It is also prudent to state that the homosexuals are more vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS and as such the fact Lippincott brought into the forefront this relationship between the two aspects. The fact that HIV/AIDS was still a ‘new’ issue during that period and that homosexuality was also a social and moral issue indicated that Andy not only highlighted the impacts of the pandemic on the ‘others’ but also underscored the increased risk in which they found themselves. It is rather prudent to note that the impact of HIV on the homosexual population was one that had not been explored. The fact that Trudeau had been blamed for normalizing the social issue that was being gay implied that research in its relationship with HIV/AIDS. In this regards, it is quite definite that Lippincott not only highlighted social factors, but also opened a gap for research into the affiliation of the pandemic to the homosexuals. In the modern times, statistics have shown that the gay community is likely to contract HIV/AIDS more than the heterosexual population. The biggest share of the blame for this fact is ignorance especially on the part of the entire population and the social stigma that the homosexuals are faced with.

Gary Trudeau is an individual that seemed to open fire in his comic story. It is quite obvious that he brought into his story aspects that were not to be considered conventional especially in a society that was not accepting of the factor of being different. By first introducing Andy Lippincott as a gay character in 1975, Lippincott faced fire and was blamed for normalizing homosexuality. By creating a character that suffered from HIV/AIDS, it is quite obvious that the author was also stirring, not just a moral pot but a social one as well. These aspects brought into question the misuse of comic strips and public literature in line with social and ethical issues. In his book, Drawn to Extremes: The Use and Abuse Of Editorial Cartoons In The United States, Lamb (2004) states that while editorial cartoons may be important in highlighting certain social issues, it is rather apparent that there is a line that should not be crossed. This is a line that he relates to the emotions the cartoons elicit among the public (Guynes, 2015). While most cartoons often offer comical interpretations of the issues of the society, some may lead to public protests. In this light, it is quite apparent that during the time of the Doonesbury, Trudeau tried to push the margins of societal values by bringing in characters that mirrored what was considered immoral or against the expectations of the society. By bringing in the gay character, he was almost gagged for normalizing a social taboo. This fact may explain the disappearance of Andy Lippincott from the storyline, especially after his confession to Jeanie Caucus. Lippincott came back in 1989 to bring to the forefront another aspect that was considered a social scourge – he embodied a character suffering from HIV/AIDS. Gary Trudeau, trying to underscore the issue of HIV/AIDS in the popular culture at that time, pushed yet another social margin. He was seen to be extreme in his exemplification of the character and his interpretation of the social issues in ways that were likely to spark protests among the public.

Marchers during the 21st annual Gay Pride Parade hold a banner that reads “The AIDS crisis is not over,” June 25, 1990. (AP Photo/Joseph F. Major)







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Reference list

Photo Attributes:

[Red Ribbon with 2 gay men]. Retrieved April 20, 2018 from

[ACT UP Protestors laying on ground black/white]. Retrieved April 20, 2018

[Newspaper b/w clippings gay plague]. Retrieved April 20, 2018

Major, J. (photographer). (1990, July 25). The AIDS crisis is not over. [digital image]. Retrieved from