The most atrociously appropriate, viciously ironic of cultural crises in the West: sex and death bound together as Isolde never could have dreamed, all of it sharply complicated by dichotomies of gay versus straight, using versus clean, sexual freedom versus celibacy, caring for invalids or fleeing from them-women or men, black or white, healthy suburbanites confronted by wasted urban ghosts. Spanning the distance from Europe to Africa, from Washington to Bangkok, from the gated community to the gay ghetto, from the hand to the knee, from one pair of lips to the next, it exploded in 1981: suddenly there was GRID, GayRelated Immunodeficiency Disease, and panic spread in the gay communities of the Castro and Christopher Streets. The first plays in 1983, and novels, stories, and films throughout the years since, grew into what is now a vast collection of narrative responses to AIDS. The visual arts jumped in to establish an antimodernist beachhead of slogans and visceral self-expression, fueled by rage and a race against the clock.