The Way We Live Now Historical Context

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The story takes place in the mid-1980s, after AIDS had begun to decimate the gay population of Manhattan and other large urban centers. The lifestyle referred to in the title of the story stands in implicit contrast to "the way we used to live" before the AIDS epidemic. Sontag is careful to include characters of every sexual orientation, but gay history is a particularly pertinent context for her story.

In 1969, the Stonewall riots occurred to protest the police harassment of a bar in the New York neighborhood of Greenwich Village. Many gay men and women were inspired by the solidarity exhibited at the uprising, and several historians point to that moment as a defining one in the burgeoning gay rights movement.

The free, often promiscuous sexual attitudes of gay liberation were in some ways an outgrowth of the more widespread and mainstream...

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This section contains 657 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Way We Live Now Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Way We Live Now from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.