Joe. My. God. and Towleroad each linked to an article by Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner noting that, despite a long-standing friendship with the Reagans, when Rock Hudson asked in 1985 for help from President Ronald Reagan to get into a French military hospital that was his only hope for HIV/AIDS treatment, he was turned down.
“I spoke with Mrs. Reagan about the attached telegram. She did not feel this was something the White House should get into and agreed to my suggestion that we refer the writer to the U.S. Embassy, Paris,” he wrote at the time.
“That refers to special treatment for a friend or celebrity. And that’s all it refers to. It had nothing to do with AIDS or AIDS policy or — that’s a whole different issue. We weren’t talking about that,” Weinberg told BuzzFeed News. “I know, I know that conversation,” he added, referencing long-standing criticism of the Reagan administration’s response to AIDS.
In his memo to Martin, while Weinberg noted that the White House would not be intervening in Hudson’s attempts to see Dormant, he added that the president had personally called Hudson. Also, the press should be informed of the call: “Mrs. Reagan asked, however, that we inform the press of the President’s telephone call to Rock Hudson today, which I did.”
[. . .]
Told of the communications and Weinberg’s explanation, Peter Staley — an early member of ACT UP and founder of the Treatment Action Group who was prominently featured in the Oscar-nominated AIDS documentary How to Survive a Plague — was incredulous.
“Seems strange that the Reagans used that excuse, since they often did favors for their Hollywood friends during their White House years,” Staley told BuzzFeed News, pointing out a time when President Reagan personally intervened to assist a fundraising effort led by Bob Hope, as detailed in a biography of the entertainer. “I’m sure if it had been Bob Hope in that hospital with some rare, incurable cancer, Air Force One would have been dispatched to help save him. There’s no getting around the fact that they left Rock Hudson out to dry. As soon as he had that frightening homosexual disease, he became as unwanted and ignored as the rest of us.”blockquote>