Dixie Carter's Death and Her HIV/AIDS Prevention Legacy
April 11, 2010
In 1987, when nurses would still flip coins to see which would enter the room of an AIDS patient and politicians debated sending those with HIV to an isolated island, something truly remarkable happened. And the passing Friday of the great Dixie Carter, 70, is a fine opportunity to revisit the courage and integrity displayed during those dark times.
A television sitcom in 1987 (!) had the guts to confront the topic of AIDS, gay men, hatred, ignorance and compassion. Very little was left unsaid when "Designing Women" aired an episode in which the girls plan a memorial for a gay friend (a clip on YouTube contains a stunning three minutes from the episode of honest fear, HIV prevention information, and outright bigotry).
Dixie Carter's character Julia is allowed her moment of righteous indignation and no one does it better (her "Designing Women" clip of "the night the lights went out in Georgia" is a classic for the ages). But Carter's involvement with what may be the first time a sitcom mentioned AIDS is something about which she was very proud.
In 1998, Carter was interviewed by Metro Weekly, D.C.'s gay and lesbian newspaper, and talked about the show's place in HIV/AIDS history:
Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and her lead actress, the now-late, great Dixie Carter, still deserve our thanks, for showing bravery and compassion in the worst of times.
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