In the Beginning: Leading up to November, 1985


Since Angels in America is set in the later months of 1985, we wanted to provide you with some real-life events which lead up to the beginning of the play.

March 11, 1985: Mikhail Gorbachev takes power in the Soviet Union following the death of Konstantin Chernenko. Gorbachev begins his policies on Glasnost [“new openness”] and Perestroika [“rebuilding”]. AIDS is reported on every populated continent of the earth. U.S. cases surpass 9,000, with 4,300 deaths.

July 12, 1985: Rock Hudson (Pictured) collapses in a Paris hospital while undergoing experimental treatment for AIDS. The news of his diagnosis creates the first real mobilization against the disease. The Reagan Administration responds by increasing AIDS funding to $100 million.

September, 1985: Four years after the outbreak of the epidemic, Ronald Reagan publicly utters the word “AIDS” for the first time, although he would not make a statement on the issue itself until 1987. More than 12,000 cases have been reported in the U.S., with nearly 6,000 deaths.

October, 1985: An Antarctic research team confirms a thirty percent depletion in the ozone layer over an area the size of the United States.

October 2, 1985: Actor Rock Hudson dies from complications of AIDS




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