Interlochen reflects on World AIDS Day

In 1986 Interlochen alumnus Bill Sherwood (IAA 68-70, IAC/NMC 67-68) released his first and only film—Parting Glances. Shot during the height of the Reagan-era AIDS pandemic, Parting Glances follows a couple and their relationship with Nick (Steve Buscemi) a 20-something gay New Yorker living with AIDS.

Tragically, Sherwood’s own life was cut short from complications with the disease in 1990. However, Parting Glances lived on. In 2006, the UCLA Film and Television Archive partnered with Outfest to begin the task of restoring the film. A year later the restoration premiered in Los Angeles at the Directors Guild of America.

Twenty years after its initial release, Parting Glances received recognition as a landmark film. Through its sometimes-grim and optimistic lens it pushed the AIDS crisis into mainstream attention.

Through the film, Sherwood’s legacy lives on. As we reflect on this World AIDS Day, let us take a moment to celebrate several other Interlochen alumni for their work in HIV/AIDS research and advocacy.

Brent Nicholson Earle (IAA 68-69, IAC/NMC 64-68): People magazine named Earle as one of the 20 individuals who shaped the 1980s after he began a series of advocacy runs and walks around the perimeter of the continental U.S. Three decades later and after tens of thousands of miles run, Earle has earned his place among the nation's leading HIV/AIDS advocates.

Keith Wetmore (IAC/NMC 69-70) is chair emeritus of Morrison & Foerster LLP. Wetmore was honored at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation 22nd Annual Leadership Recognition Dinner for those who have made a significant impact in the fight to end the pandemic and human suffering caused by HIV. He was one of the first openly gay managing partners of a major law firm, and has been honored for his work in the early 2000s advocating for and expanding same-sex partner benefits.

Dr. Norman Letvin’s (IAC/NMC 63-65), battle with pancreatic cancer ended on May 28, 2012. However, Letvin’s legacy at Harvard Medical School and as one of the most influential leaders in the world in the field of AIDS research lives on. During his tenure, Letvin and his team oversaw important research toward the quest to make an AIDS vaccine.

Dr. Bruce Agins (IAC/NMC 64-69) serves as Medical Director of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute. Agins led the development of New York’s HIV Quality of Care Program.

These are just a few of the Interlochen alumni involved in HIV/AIDS research or advocacy. Countless others have taken the stage in benefit or memorial shows, serve on boards or are in the field around the world working with those living with HIV/AIDS.

Let’s take not just this day, but every day to honor those that we know, have lost and serve in the fields of AIDS research or advocacy.

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The list above is not exhaustive, but if you feel that we missed someone of particular importance please let us know.

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