The late Chicago AIDS activist Danny Sotomayor didn’t just open doors at City Hall. He was also a political cartoonist and an organizer who used civil disobedience to wage war on city officials marginalizing the LGBTQ+ community.
He was outraged they were turning a blind eye to the AIDS epidemic.
Sotomayor’s story is featured in the latest edition of the WTTW series “Chicago Stories.”
“His story just galvanized me,” said Dan Andries, WTTW producer of the film. “I was totally mesmerized by this guy I had never heard of, never met, who climbed up on the overhang of the county building to bring attention to AIDS. He yelled at Mayor Daley at public press conferences. I was like, ‘Who is this amazing man?’”
Meanwhile Sotomayor was fighting a losing battle with the disease himself.
“It’s hard to imagine now with all the progress we’ve made in HIV, but in that moment, living with HIV was incredibly scary,” said David Ernesto Munar, president and CEO of Howard Brown Health. “By the time they were diagnosed with probably already advanced AIDS, they had sometimes 12 to 18 months to live, and there was such incredible stigma. … I think people like Danny made the decision that they were going to do everything possible to fight for themselves, for their community.”
From 1981 through 1990, more than 100,000 deaths of people with AIDS were reported to health departments, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The Outrage of Danny Sotomayor” airs at 8 p.m. Friday on WTTW and the PBS app.