The Issue of AIDS in the “Moonlight”

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The 1980s were challenging years to live in. It was during this period that the collapse of traditional communism and end of the Cold War occurred. However, it was also a time to celebrate due to revolutionary inventions and developments taking place. For instance, Apple launched its first-ever computer system, hip-hop music emerged, children’s toys spiked in popularity, and the game Pac-Man was released, achieving global success. One event that particularly took America by surprise was the spread of the AIDS virus, which garnered immense public attention.

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Studies found that the prevalence of the AIDS virus was notably high among men, especially men of color, during the 1980s – a reality expertly depicted in the movie “Moonlight”.

“Moonlight” is a film about an African-American man growing up in a rough neighborhood, grappling with his homosexuality. It is set in Miami during the 1980s, when the war on drugs began. The narrative offers glimpses into the life of the protagonist, Chiron, featuring three defining stages: his childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. From a young age, Chiron was conditioned to suppress his feelings, ignoring others’ opinions about him and his sexual orientation. Instead, he was taught to be resilient. Being a young African-American boy living in America at that time was challenging enough, due to widespread discrimination.

Chiron grew up in a broken home and never learned how to love himself or others. Instead, he learned to depend solely on himself, since his addict mother was not around to guide him. His troubled childhood was marred by bullying, wherein his peers perceived him as soft and feeble and consequently denied him the respect he craved. Despite these adversities, Chiron’s courage gave him the strength to endure. “Moonlight” delivers a clear message – one’s sexuality, race, sex, and economic background should not define a person. “At some point, you got to decide for yourself who you’re gonna be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you,” as advised by Juan (Mahershala Ali). However, how can one possibly avoid being defined by these inherent characteristics? Perhaps we need to consider what truly defines us – morals, ethics, values, wealth, family, or judgment? Amidst these dilemmas, Chiron finds solace in Juan, who treats him as an individual, unlike his mother and schoolmates. Chiron sees Juan as a trustworthy friend and a protective father figure.

This led Chiron to rely on Juan, who was the first individual to offer him the respect and interest he needed. This quote provides us with an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into Juan and Chiron’s relationship. It also shows the audience that at times we need to take matters into our own hands and not let others decide what our fate is going to be. However, this is difficult for African American men and women living in America because everything is already decided for us. It is decided how many of us African Americans will end up in jail or unemployed. Yet, this quote teaches Chiron not to let that be his fate, but instead for him to choose what his future is going to be. As one grows, how can personal history not influence who they become? “Moonlight” is a small film that tackles some big issues.

Divided into three stages of personal development, it is clear Chiron’s story does not end when we leave him. His own identity is a work in progress. Despite his best efforts, Chiron can never truly escape from his past; his personal history will always be a part of him and continue to influence the decisions he makes throughout his life. The movie teaches us that you can change, run, compensate, but there’s something that always remains. Personal history can force you to hide from who you are and become what people think you should be. Then you’re trapped, not knowing or accepting yourself. What defines you then? This remarkable film skillfully illustrates the struggle that exists within us all.

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The Issue of AIDS in the “Moonlight”. (2022, Dec 16). Retrieved from