The Gift is a powerful documentary by Louise Hogarth that explores the strange phenomenon of “bugchasing” – the intentional pursuit of HIV infection. Through the stories of two bug chasers, we see firsthand the risks and temptations associated with this self-destructive behavior.
Doug, one of the key characters in the film, comes from a small town in the Midwest. Lonely and looking for a place to belong, he moves to San Francisco and quickly finds himself caught up in HIV bugchasing parties. In his search for belonging, Doug makes a fateful decision: he contracts HIV and soon must cope with the grim reality of living with such a deadly virus.
This documentary was created to raise awareness in the gay community about safe sex practices and raise knowledge about this dangerous trend that was driving up infection rates at an alarming rate at the time it was released (2003). It’s an important reminder that our health decisions have far-reaching consequences, and anyone who isn’t engaging in safe sex practices should watch The Gift as soon as possible.
The Gift provides an important look into contemporary queer life, tackling sensitive topics like loneliness and alienation head on. We can all learn from Doug’s story – how one wrong decision can lead to serious consequences which could have been easily avoided if only we’d taken precautions beforehand. So take some time out of your day (or night) to watch The Gift – you won’t regret it!