Mayor John Duran Calls Out the Late President Bush for Ignoring HIV/AIDS

The West Hollywood City Council last night adjourned in memory of the late President George H. W. Bush. However Mayor John Duran took time to call out Bush for his failure to speak up about the AIDS epidemic during his term in office, which was from 1989 to 1993.

George H.W. Bush
“I just can’t sit completely silently about it,” Duran said after acknowledging to local resident Yola Dore had suggested the council acknowledge Bush’s death. “George Bush while he was in office was not an advocate for LGBT people at any time. Later in life he became an advocate for LGBT people.

“While he was in office he was a very timid president and responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of gay men along with Ronald Reagan, and that is why we all worked so emphatically to deny him a second term and elect Bill and Hillary Clinton to the White House to give us some hope. While I do have to give him credit for signing the American With Disabilities Act and the Ryan White Care Act, which he also signed.

“It was only when Ryan White put a face to HIV and AIDS that he found the backbone and the courage to talk about HIV and AIDS, completely ignoring the fact that there had been tens of thousands of gay men dead in the streets of our cities.”

Ryan White was a heterosexual teenage high school student in Kokomo, Ind., who was diagnosed with AIDS in December 1984 and given six months to live. He had become infected from infected blood injected during his treatment for hemophilia. White’s struggle to be re-admitted to high school after the diagnosis brought major attention to AIDS and prompted the passage of an act providing federal funding for treatment of HIV/AIDS that was signed by Bush.

Duran, who is gay and HIV positive, is one of a number of gay activists who have spoken up about Bush’s failure to address the AIDS epidemic. HIV is an infection that can lead to AIDS, which makes one vulnerable to death because of its suppression of the immune system. The AIDS epidemic was first noticed by doctors in 1981 in the gay community but became a major national issue by 1989. As of 2016, about 675,000 people have died of HIV/AIDS in the United States. The death rate has plummeted thanks to the introduction of a triple-drug therapy that blocks progression of the HIV virus.

The City Council traditionally adjourns in memory of locally and some nationally prominent people who have died, which involves a council member making a statement on behalf of the person who died.


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Mike
Guest
Mike

As a older Gay men living with HIV for 28 years, Bush was no supporter of Thr community. Those commenting on Duran’s behavior- look in your own back yard. Petty personal attacks are unnecessary and uncalled for. We should all be uniting and making the community a better place for all.

Skill, Service & Honor
Guest
Skill, Service & Honor

After doing a small amount of research, it seems Mayor Duran’s comments were both inaccurate and unnecessarily critical of President Bush suggesting he was timid and was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of gay men. While VP to President Reagan he was not the decider. During the crisis, responsibility for one’s behavior also became an issue but one wonders how much responsibility folks took or now take in the current climate given available drugs. Mayor Duran remains a standard barer of sorts for Grindr and other reckless activities rather than behaving like a responsible, evolved adult. He… Read more »

WehoJoe
Guest
WehoJoe

What good are these comments at this time. Publicity stunts again.

Christopher Roth
Guest
Christopher Roth

This falls in the category of opportunist and lack of class. The criticism is true and warranted but you’ve had decades to bring this up. Can we at least just wait a few days until the funeral is over to have the debate?

Randy
Guest
Randy

There was no debate. I’d like to know how many people commenting here (especially anti-Duran) actually WATCHED the meeting (I did)? Listened to Yola’s public comment, Steve Martin’s public comment, Heilman’s, and Duran’s, in full context? He was merely stating his truth, as someone who was an AIDS activist while Bush was in office, and lost many friends to the epidemic. If I were him, I wouldn’t just sit there silently … no way. This was not opportunism. He was just speaking his truth, regardless of what you might think of him already. In this case, I think Duran is… Read more »

jimmy palmieri
Guest
jimmy palmieri

All I can say is, I’ve never been a fan of any bush…..

Barbara Hamaker
Guest
Barbara Hamaker

The list of politicians who have in every meaningful way dodged crucial human issues is endless and tragic. George H W Bush had been party to most of the heinous crimesl perpetrated against the American people not the least of which goes back to the death of JFK. If we as a people don’t stop idolizing those embedded in the power elite we will not survive the coming decades. We must study and begin to realize the tragedies that have been perpetrated against us in the name of power, money, greed and prestige. I have come late to the game… Read more »

Cory
Guest
Cory

Thank you John Duran, Dan Wentzel, and Ken Howard for reminding everyone for the lack of action GHW Bush took during the height of the AIDS epidemic as both VP under Reagan and as the 41st President. No thank you to all the GHW Bush apologists here and elsewhere, especially the fake profiles, that are trying their damn best to silence those that were forever impacted by his lack of action.

Randy
Guest
Randy

Ken Howard said it best, below. I have yet to watch the Council Meeting, but I doubt that Duran was “grandstanding” by making this statement, or trying to make it about him. Whether you love Duran or not, he’s devoted a lot of his life to AIDS activism, and pursuing the rights of LGBT people. I think there are so many commenters on this site that are just hell-bent on calling him an “attention whore” for anything he says or does. For those of you calling him out, how many of you were there, spending your lives fighting for LGBT… Read more »

Dan Wentzel
Guest

Duran hit the nail on the head. We shouldn’t be whitewashing or sanitizing Bush’s tenure as President just because he died. I am glad he made a personal journey towards becoming more accepting. But as President he openly pandered to anti-gay bigots, and that influenced his Administration’s AIDS Policy. He may have signed the Ryan White Act, but it certainly wasn’t his idea. Bush was a patriot, a war hero, a devoted family man, and his good qualities should absolutely be celebrated. But that doesn’t erase history or his other actions in this area. I found it offensive that some… Read more »

Alison
Guest
Alison

John Jude Duran simply disgusts me.

Jose
Guest
Jose

You ain’t the only one ….by FAR!!!!!!!!!

JJ
Guest
JJ

#metoo

Alan Strasburg
Guest
Alan Strasburg

History is a complicated study, one which will forever be analyzed and rewritten and reinterpreted. Most figures in history have done remarkable things and sometimes things for which history will not look kindly. On the totality of ones place in history however, George H.W. Bush was a dedicated and selfless public servant who led with dignity, grace and humility. Unlike the often bombastic and always attention-seeking antics of the so-called mayor, however, I don’t think George H.W. Bush had a pompous bone in his body. I will let history record the good and the bad of policy, but I will… Read more »

JJ
Guest
JJ

Well said, Alan.

Ken Howard, LCSW
Guest

I realize that in a city like West Hollywood, and in gay culture, that Youth is prized and worshiped. But speaking as an “old guy”, I’m totally pulling rank here and saying, “Listen, children, I was THERE. I SAW it!”, and that’s why I totally agree with John Duran’s comments. I worked tirelessly in 1992 as a social work graduate student to campaign for Bill Clinton, because Clinton’s candidacy gave us hope during the height of the AIDS epidemic (and, remember, in a Recession that Republican policies caused). Clinton’s campaign was all about hope: Clinton, in a speech/debate with GHW… Read more »

Me, Myself & I
Guest
Me, Myself & I

Sometimes finding social justice becomes an awareness rather than a fight. The “Me, Myself & I” folks could hopefully evolve and determine what they might be doing to perpetuate that which they are fighting. It’s like Big Pharma always miraculously producing a cure….that one pays dearly for but not putting their weight behind finding the source.

Randy
Guest
Randy

That’s fair, and he might have come around, but I don’t think the City of West Hollywood should be closing a meeting in his honor, just because he learned later in life to be supportive of the LGBT population and/or the AIDS epidemic. He had an opportunity to do something about it when it mattered, and didn’t. How many people died would have loved to live a fulfilling life like his, until the age of 94, or even half that age?

IWasThereToo
Guest
IWasThereToo

There is so much I could comment on with which I disagree, but there’s no point. I will add, however, that there is no person in history who has done more for the continent of Africa, and particularly with regards to HIV treatment and AIDS patients, than George W. Bush.

Just thought I would throw that out there.

By the way, I’ve been in West Hollywood since 1978.