It’s a Sin leaves queer people in tears – and brings back painful memories of the worst years of the AIDS epidemic
It’s a Sin is bringing back painful memories of the early years of the AIDS epidemic for queer people – and it’s also educating a new generation.
It’s a Sin follows three gay men as they move to London in the early 1980s and end up renting a flat together, which they call the Pink Palace. They live a life of sexual freedom and experimentation for a time – but the arrival of a mysterious illness, said to spread among gay men, changes everything.
Years & Years singer Olly Alexander plays main character Ritchie Tozer in the series, a young gay man from the Isle of Wight who believes the AIDS epidemic is nothing more than a “money-making scheme for drug companies”.
“Do you seriously think there is an illness that only kills gay men? It can calculate that you’re gay and kill you, but only if you’re gay and no one else?” he asks in It’s a Sin.
It’s a Sin brings back painful memories of the AIDS epidemic.
The critically-acclaimed series has won plaudits from LGBT+ viewers everywhere, with many praising Davies and the show’s cast for putting a much-needed spotlight on the horrors of the AIDS epidemic.
Many queer people who came of age during the AIDS epidemic have shared their own painful memories of the crisis on Twitter, while younger viewers have thanked Davies and the cast for educating a new generation about the early impact of the disease.
And being a child – 12,14 – and knowing you were gay at that time meant knowing you would very probably die of AIDS. I barely have the words to describe how crushing that was. Few straight people get that – and few under 40s. If Covid is your first pandemic you’re lucky. #ItsASin
— Patrick Strudwick (@PatrickStrud) January 22, 2021
Excited & a bit emotional about #ItsASin tonight
We lost both my uncles to AIDS- when really young men with their whole lives ahead- as heartbreaking now as ever
Often feels many people don’t know what happened in those years & that generation’s legacy- we should never forget
— Scott Beasley (@SkyScottBeasley) January 22, 2021
Saw It’s a Sin last week but it made me cry more tonight. I think it’s because to have people see what it was like feels like a little bit of justice. So many people died. And the worst part was that the newspapers made you feel like you deserved it. It completely fucked me up
— Matthew Todd 💙 (@MrMatthewTodd) January 22, 2021
“It’s a sin” is reminding me how fucking terrified I was back then, especially after my best friend, who was my age, died of AIDS related complications. I wondered if I’d even make it to 30, let alone 51
— Chris (@bearpupuk) January 22, 2021
I remember watching the icebergs and the tombstones and waiting for that leaflet to fall through the door. I was convinced I would die and never ever find love or friends. Sitting here with my husband watching #itsASin and feeling fortunate. Our stories have to be told.
— Damian Barr (@Damian_Barr) January 22, 2021
Woken up this morning with #ItsASin and all the emotions it stirred up smothering me like a heavy blanket. Thinking of all those I know who were lost, or have lost loved ones. I wish I could spend time with and embrace all my chosen family today.
— Simon J Lock (@simonjlock) January 23, 2021
My brother Jim & his GF diagnosed HIV in 80s – such stigma surrounding the virus & limited services were so stretched, they had addictions and I will NEVER FORGET how the LGBTQ 🏳️🌈 community embraced them and looked after him whilst they faced their own prejudices #ItsASin
— Janey Godley (@JaneyGodley) January 22, 2021
When I came out to my mother she cried and said she was worried I’d grow old lonely and die of Aids. I am older than I ever imagined I would be, but I’m not lonely, and was lucky to have emerged just as condom culture took hold. But man, it was a close run thing. #ItsASin
— Matt Wells (@MatthewWells) January 22, 2021
Many others also noted how important It’s a Sin will be for educating a new generation about the AIDS epidemic – especially when so few young people learn about it at school.
One of the most painful things about #ItsASin is that these stories have gone mostly untold for decades.
A single episode is more of a queer education than most LGBT kids in the UK have ever got from years at school.
This is our history and we deserve to be taught about it.
— Liam Beattie (@Liam_Beattie) January 22, 2021
Where education falls short in telling us our LGBT history, dramas like #ItsASin step in so brilliantly.
The reason why homophobia is so rife in schools is because LGBTQ history, largely, is still not taught.
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) January 22, 2021
#ItsASin has my heart full and broken in the same beat. Beautiful characters, full of zesty queerness gazing into a promising future.
Important that we (re)learn our history while recognising the incredible progress since.
I’m going to pace myself through the episodes. 💜
— Adam Shanley (@Adlers1) January 22, 2021
People who are living with HIV also shared their own experiences, and reminded people watching It’s a Sin at home that the virus is now treatable through antiretroviral drugs, meaning a diagnosis is no longer a death sentence.
Many sought to remind young queer people that those with HIV now live long, healthy and happy lives.
This tweet is blowing up so here’s some more key facts.
HIV can affect anyone – regardless of gender, sexuality, age, religion etc.
Testing is free & simple – just a finger prick.
HIV+ on treatment can’t pass HIV on – to sexual partners or unborn children.
— Tom, eat the rich, PositiveLad (@PositiveLad) January 22, 2021
Others just shared their love for It’s a Sin, with many declaring it Russell T Davies’ masterpiece.
I watched #ItsASin two weeks ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t remember the last time a show affected me this much. Not only is it already a contender for show of the year, it is inarguably Russell T Davies’ masterpiece. This exceptional cast will break your heart💔 pic.twitter.com/DUOGp0lTce
— David Opie 🌈 (@DavidOpie) January 19, 2021
#ItsASin already a masterpiece ♥️
— Lisa McGee (@LisaMMcGee) January 22, 2021
@russelldavies63 my deepest curtsey to you #ItsASin is a beautiful masterpiece and took me right back to that time….and a little later, the wonderful memories of doing West End Cares cabarets with Nollie! ❤️
— Sarah Moyle (@moylie69) January 23, 2021
— David Opie 🌈 (@DavidOpie) January 22, 2021
It’s a Sin is available to stream on All 4 and HBO Max.