A new trailer for It’s A Sin, the new Channel 4 drama from Russell T Davies, shines a light on many gay men’s early attitudes towards the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.
Olly Alexander, who stars in the new series as a young gay actor fresh in London at the start of the pandemic, shared a two-minute trailer for It’s A Sin on Tuesday (4 January).
It reveals his character to be an HIV/AIDS-denier, reeling off a nefarious list of rumours about the disease and the virus that causes it.
“It’s a racket, it’s a money-making schema for drugs companies,” his character, Ritchie, says.
“They want to scare us and stop us having sex and make us really boring – basically because they can’t get laid.”
Parroting rumours at the time that HIV originated in a lab, was created by Russians, jumped to humanity from a chimpanzee, or is caused by friction, Ritchie chillingly declares: “How do I know it’s not true? Because I’m not stupid. Which means I don’t believe it.”
It’s A Sin is based on creator Russell T Davies’ own experiences living through the start of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
The trailer echoes a recent op-ed by the writer in the Guardian, in which he recalled: “Even then, the truth was surrounded by nonsense.
“That headline [in an ’80s copy of Him magazine] called it a plot, because that’s what everyone said – the virus was created by the Russians, the Chinese, the Americans, it had escaped from some villainous hi-tech secret laboratories (sound familiar?), it was sent by God to strike down the sinners.
“It was said, impossibly, that it affected only homosexuals, Haitians and haemophiliacs, like it only went for people beginning with the letter H. Ridiculous! Surely? How could that be true?”
Ritchie echoes the H conspiracy while walking into the famed queer nightclub Heaven, where he proceeds to kiss boy after boy after boy.
— olly ✨ (@alexander_olly) January 5, 2021
It’s A Sin launches in January on Channel 4.