A very moving drama about homosexuality and aids in the 80’s


19-year old Rasmus moves to Stockholm to start a new life. The first thing that he does is to go to a place at the train station where he’s heard that gay men gather to get in touch with one another (today we use Grindr). He comes from the countryside and homosexuality is a tabu word, and the gay scene is only just rising in Sweden.

In the city, he meets Benjamin, a highly religious guy who goes against his parents and everything he stands for when he falls in love with Rasmus. The two move in together and lead a good life together with their gay friends. But around them, people die one after another in the new and at the time uncontrollable “plague”: AIDS.

I was never going to write about this because it’s in Swedish, but after watching the third and final episode of the TV-series “Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar” (Never wipe tears without wearing gloves), I feel that I have to. Because this is some of the best drama I’ve seen in a very long time, and brings up an era which has never been written about or telelvised in this way before in Sweden. Surprisingly, in such a gay-friendly country.

The series is based on a book which, if it hasn’t yet, most definately will be translated into English very soon. Read it! It’s written by gay author Jonas Gardell and not only brings to life a great subject, but has an excellent storyline. The closest families of the decised blaming cancer rather than aids in order to hide their sons homosexuality. Benjamins parents actually saying goodbye to him, cutting off all contact because he lives a life they cannot accept. And the character Paul, who is the perfect face of a gay person living the life he really wants to live, having a great inpact on the younger Benjamin and Rasmus.

A quick google seems to reveal that the book doesn’t exist in English, and I know that the TV series doesn’t, so forgive me if I’ve lead you to want to read/see something that you can’t understand anyway. But now you are warned: keep and eye out for Jonas Gardell in the book stores. If/when this drama becomes available internationally, don’t miss it!

About Johan Dahlberg

Former journalist, avid traveler and hobby photographer. I run a podcast — The TLI Podcast, check it out on Itunes — and write on "The Longform Interviewer", www.thelongforminterviewer.com. View all posts by Johan Dahlberg

One response to “A very moving drama about homosexuality and aids in the 80’s

  • analyzemaster

    It was a moving couple of episodes indeed. I heard (though I’m not certain) that BBC will buy the format and produce an English speaking series of it and if it’s true I hope the English world sticks around to watch it.

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