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Brad Gooch's New Memoir Reflects On '80s Gay Life In New York Amid HIV/AIDS Epidemic

04/13/2015 02:47 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Brad Gooch had moved back to New York's Chelsea neighborhood with his current partner, HuffPost's own Rev. Paul Raushenbush, when memories of his time living there in the '70s with his then-partner, the filmmaker Howard Brookner, started flooding his mind.

That decade was "nice in a way," Gooch told HuffPost Live's Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani on Friday. "It was colorful and it was our youth, but then there was a point in the middle where Howard becomes HIV positive, we're moving into the '80s, where I realize, 'Oh, I've gotten myself into the situation of going back into these memories which I haven't really dealt with in decades.'"

Those musings turned into a full-fledged memoir, Smash Cut, chronicling Gooch's experience navigating the early years of the AIDS epidemic, which he characterized as feeling like "science fiction."

"At that point, no one had any idea what it was," Gooch recalled. "For a while, people thought it was the air conditioning system in clubs in San Francisco and New York. There was a period of years where you had this sort of science fiction disease going on."

It was a rapid departure from the carefree '70s, when gay culture had started to become more popular -- and even, to a degree, safer.

"It was a much smaller world, and certainly for the gay part and gay clubs," Gooch said. "We were kind of protected by people's horror at homosexuality ... so never in any gossip column would it appear that someone had been at a club or acting out in an antic way. All of this would be top secret."

AIDS abruptly changed that, as Gooch writes in his book, out April 14.

It was "horrifying and larger than life, especially for us [gays] because we'd [been] having a kind of exciting, revolutionary time with not a lot of downside for a while," he concluded.

Watch Brad Gooch's conversation with HuffPost Live in the clip above.

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AIDS in New York: The First Five Years
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