Reply To: 5B

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This documentary was incredible. There were many moments that stuck out to me, and I noted different quotations throughout the movie that I felt really captured the points we have made throughout the semester. One was said by a nurse (I believe it was Mary) around the timestamp 16:47. She spoke about being used to “maintaining a clinical objectivity” with her patients before working in 5B, but here she was “allowed to love your patients.” This reminded me of topics we have discussed in lecture. In our Western society, medical care is often thought of as purely clinical and detached from the actual person. A previous reading talked about nursing students who, after seeing other professionals be emotionally distanced and even judgmental of their patients, had to cope with their grief and emotions through this same disconnection. We are often told that it is important to remain disconnected, because a medical professional cannot be too attached to patients who may die. However, I think this film showed the importance of human connection for both the patients and the nurses/doctors. Providing the patients with human touch and affection obviously had a significant impact on their mental wellbeing. The patients expressed gratitude and joy at being treated like human beings, rather than vessels of a disease. The medical professionals also received much from these interactions. They learned how to love more deeply and how to provide genuine care for dying people.

The homophobia shown in this documentary was also very impactful. Although we know how stigmatized the LGBTQ community is, especially during the AIDs epidemic, seeing and hearing congressional representatives and medical professionals exhibit these ideas was appalling. One part that greatly struck me was around the timestamp 29:50, when two men (I believe a congressman and a reporter) brought up wanting to tattoo people with AIDs so people would know to stay away from them. I immediately thought of the Holocaust, where Jewish people were both forced to wear gold stars to identify themselves, and were tattooed with numbers to identify them in concentration camps. I was horrified to hear such a similar suggestion being argued for during the AIDs epidemic, only about 40 years after the end of World War II. This discrimination, while terrible to see, is incredibly important to have in a documentary like this. Discrimination is real and effects so many different groups of people, and it is important to remember instances such as this in order to confront future discrimination.