Young queer artists today do not face the same kind of social and health crisis as their predecessors in the ’80s and ’90s—when Felix Gonzalez-Torres commemorated the loss of his lover, Ross, to AIDS, and Robert Gober made his sink sculptures in the wake of the epidemic. Many young artists are now free to focus on the joys of life, rather than lamentations of death.

To be sure, LGBTQ-identified people—for brevity, this article will name them “queer”—still face violence and systematic discrimination, particularly in transgender and communities of color. HIV remains an ongoing battle, despite advancements in antiretroviral treatment (which the CDC recently stated effectively prevents transmission) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). It hits especially hard in rural areas, and in the American South, where both class and race are deadly factors. That said, we are living in an unprecedented time of acceptance and openness of queer lifestyles, and a HIV-positive diagnosis is not the death sentence it once was in progressive cities. Read more