An enthralling and incisive anthology of personal essays on the persistent impact of the AIDS crisis on queer lives.


Every queer person lives with the trauma of AIDS, and this plays out intergenerationally. Usually we hear about two generations - the first, coming of age in the era of gay liberation, and then watching entire circles of friends die of a mysterious illness as the government did nothing to intervene. And now we hear about younger people growing up with effective treatment and prevention available, unable to comprehend the magnitude of the loss. But there is another generation between these two, one that came of age in the midst of the epidemic with the belief that desire intrinsically led to death, and internalized this trauma as part of becoming queer.


Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing up with the AIDS Crisis offers crucial stories from this missing generation in AIDS literature and cultural politics. This wide-ranging collection includes 36 personal essays on the ongoing and persistent impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis in queer lives. Here you will find an expansive range of perspectives on a specific generational story - essays that explore and explode conventional wisdom, while also providing a necessary bridge between experiences. These essays respond, with eloquence and incisiveness, to the question: How do we reckon with the trauma that continues to this day, and imagine a way out?


"An exciting and important collection that reconvenes community and brings our hidden feelings and experiences of HIV again to light and to consciousness." - Sarah Schulman, author of Conflict Is Not Abuse and Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993


"For decades, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore has been putting together anthologies that transform the field of queer politics and let us understand ourselves and each other in new ways. Between Certain Death and a Possible Future is just such a book. It is a must-read for this moment, yet another juncture where we face the collision of brutal inequality, right-wing resurgence, and pandemic. This book is deeply personal, moving, and evocative, and at the same time has an enormous amount to teach us about the political and social conditions that have produced the social meanings of AIDS and sex that have shaped our lives." - Dean Spade, author of Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next)

Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with...

  • Arsenal Pulp Press 2021

    New paperback

    368 pages