Reagan, AIDS, and Liberal Lies: Reagan Was NOT Homophobic

Rock Hudson poses with Nancy and Ronald Reagan at a White House state dinner in 1984

Rock Hudson poses with Nancy and Ronald Reagan at a White House state dinner in 1984

(Originally posted on MeredithAncret’s personal blog, December of 2012, but it needs to come back again, as the stupid claims of Reagan’s supposed “homophobia” are doing the rounds again).

Recently on my political tumblr I’ve been dealing with an onslaught of messages from liberals, criticizing my respect for Ronald Reagan, because, in their words A significant source of Reagan’s support came from the newly identified religious right and the Moral Majority, a political-action group founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. AIDS became the tool, and gay men the target, for the politics of fear, hate and discrimination. and Do you think that Reagan refused to do anything positive for aids stricken people because they were gay?

I can only be led to believe that, tumblr being a hive of liberal misinformation (like repeatedly posting links to satirical news sites as ‘proof’ that Romney wants to ban tampons), that this liberal lie has come around on the guitar again as a favored talking point.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this is bullshit.

The first ridiculous idea here is the Reagan was some sort of homophobe.

First of all, the man worked in Hollywood and as Martin Anderson, a high level adviser to Reagan, said “I remember Reagan telling us that in Hollywood he knew a lot of gays, and he never had any problem with them,…I think a number of people who were gay worked for the Reagans,…We never kept track. But he never said anything even remotely like that comment in the movie. His basic attitude was ‘Leave them alone.'”

Reagan, in 1978, publicly opposed Proposition 6 in California, which called for the dismissal of teachers who ‘advocated’ for homosexuality.

“Whatever else it is,” Reagan wrote, “homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.” He also argued: “Since the measure does not restrict itself to the classroom, every aspect of a teacher’s personal life could presumably come under suspicion. What constitutes ‘advocacy’ of homosexuality? Would public opposition to Proposition 6 by a teacher — should it pass — be considered advocacy?”

That November 7, Proposition 6 lost, 41.6 percent in favor to 58.4 percent against. Reagan’s opposition is considered instrumental to its defeat.

Deroy Murdock (Anti-Gay Gipper: A lie about Reagan.)

Then there is the fact that Reagan’s own family denies that he was some sort of homophobe and they were none to pleased by hatchet job portrayal of the former President in the Showtime tv movie The Reagans.

According to the screenplay for “The Reagans,” my father is a homophobic Bible-thumper who loudly insisted that his son wasn’t gay when Ron took up ballet, and who in a particularly scathing scene told my mother that AIDS patients deserved their fate. “They who live in sin shall die in sin,” the writers and producers had him say.

Not only did my father never say such a thing, he never would have. If you have any doubts, read the recently published book of his letters. They reveal a man whose compassion for other people is deep and earnest, and whose spiritual life is based on faith in a loving God, not a vengeful one.I was about eight or nine years old when I learned that some people are gay — although the word ‘gay’ wasn’t used in those years. I don’t remember what defining word was used, if any; what I do remember is the clear, smooth, non-judgmental way in which I was told. The scene took place in the den of my family’s Pacific Palisades home. My father and I were watching an old Rock Hudson and Doris Day movie. At the moment when Hudson and Doris Day kissed, I said to my father, “That looks weird.” Curious, he asked me to identify exactly what was weird about a man and woman kissing, since I’d certainly seen such a thing before. All I knew was that something about this particular man and woman was, to me, strange. My father gently explained that Mr. Hudson didn’t really have a lot of experience kissing women; in fact, he would much prefer to be kissing a man. This was said in the same tone that would be used if he had been telling me about people with different colored eyes, and I accepted without question that this whole kissing thing wasn’t reserved just for men and women.

You should know this story because it’s something the producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron won’t tell you. They have exhibited astounding carelessness and cruelty in their depiction of my father and my entire family. They never consulted any family member, nor did they speak to anyone who has known us throughout the years.

Patti Davis (‘The Reagans,’ From One of Them)*

Then there comes this fantastical idea that liberal subscribe to which is that Reagan was happy that AIDS existed and did everything he could to stop it from being cured, because he was a homophobe who thought gays deserved to die of AIDS.


In a Congressional Research Service study titled AIDS Funding for Federal Government Programs: FY1981-FY1999, author Judith Johnson found that overall, the federal government spent $5.727 billion on AIDS under Ronald Reagan. This higher number reflects President Reagan’s proposals as well as additional expenditures approved by Congress that he later signed.

Table 5 of Johnson’s report shows annual federal AIDS spending during Ronald Reagan’s watch. This is hardly the portrait of a do-nothing presidency:
Government Spending on HIV/AIDS

Fiscal Year ($ Millions) % growth over previous year
1982 8
1983 44 450.00
1984 103 134.09
1985 205 99.03
1986 508 147.80
1987 922 81.50
1988 1,615 75.16
1989 2,322 43.78
Total 5,727

Source: Congressional Research Service

Deroy Murdock (Anti-Gay Gipper: A lie about Reagan.)

Funding for AIDS research went up 128.92% between 1982 and 1989!

That’s a lot of money folks, a LOT of money.

Could he have spent more? Yeah, probably. I mean were in hard economic times, but if it would have done any good to have more money spent on the research, I’m sure Reagan could have found the money somewhere.

But it wouldn’t have helped.

“You could have poured half the national budget into AIDS in 1983, and it would have gone down a rat hole,” says Michael Fumento, author of BioEvolution: How Biotechnology Is Changing Our World. “There were no anti-virals back then. The first anti-viral was AZT which came along in 1987, and that was for AIDS.” As an example of how blindly scientists and policymakers flew as the virus took wing, Fumento recalls that “in 1984, Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler predicted that there would be an AIDS vaccine by 1986. There is no AIDS vaccine to date.”

Reagan had no interest in letting gay people die. He had gay friends, ones that did in fact suffer from AIDS. He held no evangelical, Westboro Baptist, style hatred for gay people, as liberals want to make us believe.

We will continue, as a high priority, the fight against Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). An unprecedented research effort is underway to deal with this major epidemic public health threat. The number of AIDS cases is expected to increase. While there are hopes for drugs and vaccines against AIDS, none is immediately at hand. Consequently, efforts should focus on prevention, to inform and to lower risks of further transmission of the AIDS virus. To this end, I am asking the Surgeon General to prepare a report to the American people on AIDS.

– 1986 State of the Union address

*Please read the entirety of that article, it is fantastic and I had trouble choosing as little as I did to quote.


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Categorised in: America, Conservative, Constitution, Gay Rights, Politics, World

2 Responses »


    “The following press conference is the first public mention of AIDS in the Reagan White House. At that time 200 Americans had died of a new infectious disease. Reagan himself did not mention AIDS for three more years. [Note: other sources say five, citing 1987.–Clarknt67]

    The White House

    Office of the Press Secretary

    Press Briefing by Larry Speakes

    October 15, 1982

    The Briefing Room

    12:45pm EDT

    Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement — the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?

    Mr. Speakes: What’s AIDS?

    Q: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as “gay plague.” (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?

    Mr. Speakes: I don’t have it. Do you? (Laughter.)

    Q: No, I don’t.

    Mr. Speakes: You didn’t answer my question.

    Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President …

    Mr. Speakes: How do you know? (Laughter.)

    Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?

    Mr. Speakes: No, I don’t know anything about it, Lester.

    Q: Does the President, does anyone in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?

    Mr. Speakes: I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s been any …

    Q: Nobody knows?

    Mr. Speakes: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.

    Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping …

    Mr. Speakes: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he’s had no — (laughter) — no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.

    Q: The President doesn’t have gay plague, is that what you’re saying or what?

    Mr. Speakes: No, I didn’t say that.

    Q: Didn’t say that?

    Mr. Speakes: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn’t you stay there? (Laughter.)

    Q: Because I love you Larry, that’s why. (Laughter.)

    Mr. Speakes: Oh I see. Just don’t put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter.)

    Q: Oh, I retract that.

    Mr. Speakes: I hope so.

    Q: It’s too late.”

    And from the Surgeon General during Reagan’s Presidency-

    Reagan’s surgeon general at the time, Dr. C. Everett Koop, is quoted in the San Fancisco Gate blaming “intradepartmental politics” for the non-response. He claims he was cut out of all AIDS discussions for the first five years of the administration,

    “because transmission of AIDS was understood to be primarily in the homosexual population and in those who abused intravenous drugs.” The president’s advisers, Koop said, “took the stand, ‘They are only getting what they justly deserve.'”

  2. Yes somehow there was a 450% increase in AIDS research funds between 1982 and 1983.

    Yup, Reagan and his administration were just ignoring it.

    So he didn't talk about it until 1985 in a public address. How does that matter?

    Does the fact that a president doesn't talk about cancer mean that he hates cancer patients and wants them to die.
    You are grasping at straws and randomly quoting giant blocks of text people that aren't even Reagan in order to make a point, but I'm not sure what point you are trying to make at all…

    Are you trying to say that Reagan did hate gay people and wanted people with AIDS to die? Because I showed that wasn't the case already and you didn't actually disprove anything I said.

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