"I want, in my life, to get to love somebody who loves me
"You can't relive your life. That's kind of the whole point.
As long as we gives a voice to all those who died; as long as we educates the young and as long as we shames those who where there and over-reacted — then we will have suceeded.
— Director Simon Kajser
"Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar
" ("Never Wipe Tears Without Gloves
") is a Swedish mini series in three parts based on three novels by Jonas Gardell (individually subtitled "Love
" and "Death
"). The series aired in the fall of 2012 and the books were published between 2012 and 2013.
Set in Stockholm in the 1980s the series depicts the gay culture of Sweden, the spread of HIV and AIDS and above all the fear and the prejudice that came with the disease. It is narrated by Benjamin, a Jehovah's Witness who is invited to a Christmas party by Paul, a flamboyant homosexual man with a habit of taking young, insecure gay men under his wing. At the party Benjamin meets Rasmus, a young man from the small community of Koppom who moved to Stockholm to be able to explore his sexuality. Benjamin and Rasmus fall in love and begin to build a life together, facing problems such as prejudism and Benjamin not wanting to tell his parents that he's gay, but for the most part having a happy life and a great love. Then HIV and AIDS begins to spread among the gay community and Rasmus finds out he has the disease.
The series is based on real people and real experiences of Jonas Gardell, himself a gay man who was around the same age as Benjamin and Rasmus in the eighties. It became a huge hit when it premiered in Sweden and a landmark piece of entertainment. It does not shy away from depicting gay relationships, it was produced by and aired on Swedish public service and when Jonas Gardell was named Homo of the Year at the Swedish Gay Gala in early 2013 it was the Swedish crown princess who handed him the award.
This series provides examples of:
- Adult Fear: Rasmus' parents are more than a little scared he might contract AIDS. Guess what happens... Watching Rasmus' father sob over his dying son is downright heart-wrenching.
- The premise itself. A disease that kills you in a horrible way, spreading like wildfire, affecting you and all of your closest friends. Those who get it become outcast by society.
- The third book has a heartbreaking scene where Rasmus breaks down over the knowledge that once he's dead he will be put in a black plastic bag labeled "Risk of contagion" and his remains treated like they're garbage.
- All Gays Are Promiscuous: One of the prejudices gay men faced in the eighties. It was commonly used against the gay community at the time. Some of the characters in the story are promiscuous (as much as Rasmus loves Benjamin he doesn't want a monogamous relationship, Paul Really Gets Around) but many are not (Benjamin only ever sleeps with Rasmus, Seppo and Lars-Åke are monogamous).
- All Gays Love Theater: Averted with Paul, played straight with Bengt.
- Anachronic Order: The books jump back and forth in the timeline so often that you really need to pay attention to what's going on. The series does the same, though to a lesser extent.
- Animal Metaphor: The white moose.
- Anyone Can Die
- Arc Words: "And God shall wipe away all the tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Book of Revelation, Chapter 21. It's Benjamin's favorite quote from the Bible and it appears repeatedly through the story.
- Ascended Fanboy: Sort of. Erik Engkvist wrote fan mail to Jonas Gardell and Gardell wrote back. Through their correspondance Engkvist told Gardell about his experiences as a gay Jehovah's Witness. When Gardell wrote the book he based Benjamin on Engkvist.
- Attending Your Own Funeral: When Benjamin reveals his sexuality to his parents they pay him a visit, bringing cake and roses. While they are eating the cake Benjamin realizes that he's actually attending what his parents consider his funeral, since once they leave they will consider him dead.
- Based on a True Story: Some characters are based directly on real people, other are composite characters and some are entirely fictional. The entire series is based on friends of Jonas Gardell and the things they lived through during the eighties.
- The Beard: Sort of. At Bengt's funeral his best friend Madde is said to be his girlfriend, to hide that he was gay. She never acted as his beard while he was alive, though.
- Book Ends: Each episode opens with the same piece of narration from Benjamin and the same bit of narration closes the last episode.
Benjamin: What is told in this story has happened. And it happened here, in this city. It was like a war, fought in times of peace. In a city where most people continued to live their lives as if nothing had happened, young men fell sick, wasted away and died.
- Bury Your Gays: Both played straight and averted.
- But Not Too Gay: Completely averted. The series includes a couple of sex scenes between men and all gay couples are shown kissing and touching. Adam Pålsson (who plays Rasmus) said in an interview that he and Adam Lundgren (who plays Benjamin) agreed right from the start to allow each other to touch, kiss and caress one another freely anywhere on their bodies. The result is a couple portrayed on screen who display a heck of a lot of physical affection for one another which makes the romance very believable.
- Camp Gay: Paul.
- Character Focus: The book devotes a few chapters solely to Reine, Bengt and Lars-Åke.
- Coming-Out Story: For some of the characters.
- Converting for Love: Sort of. Benjamin leaves Jehovah's Witnesses to be with Rasmus, though it's never stated if he actually converts to another form of Christianity.
- Death by Sex
- The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Parents often lies about what killed their son, causing distant relatives to donate money to Cancer Research.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: The treatment of gay men in 1982 versus 2012.
- Driven to Suicide: Several gay men took their own lives when they got the diagnosis. Out of the main characters this happens with Bengt.
- The Dutiful Son: Benjamin, at first.
- Dwindling Party: Most of Benjamin's friends have died of AIDS by the end of the series. Especially the third part is ripe with this as that is when most of the deaths take place.
- Dying Alone: Many of the AIDS victims.
- Everyone Is Christian At Christmas: Played with.
- The Fun in Funeral: Paul has one of the most awesome funerals ever.
- Gallows Humor: Paul gripes about friends who commit suicide when they get their HIV diagnosis. He claims they should have the decency to waste away and not leave their poor friends to carry heavy bodies in caskets at the funerals.
- Good Victims, Bad Victims: Paul comments on a newspaper article stating that the first "innocent" victim of AIDS has been diagnosed.
- Happy Flashback: Several during poignant sad moments.
- Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Averted.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Most noticeable the last time they all gather to celebrate Christmas the group consists only of Paul, Seppo and Benjamin. Paul only has days to live, to boot. Instead of the usual grand fiest they sit in the kitchen with no Christmas decorations and eat simple food.
- Opening Narration: Provided by Benjamin.
- Narrator All Along: Björn Kjellman stars as the Narrator, gives narratation that isn't plot specific but is about AIDS in general in Sweden. Then at the opening of the third part we start at the 2010's where Kjellman enter an appartment, goes past a wall full of Pictures of the characters we know and love, takes a call on his mobile phone and calls himself... Benjamin Nilsson
- OOC Is Serious Business: When Bengts best friend Madde is identfied as "Bengt's Girlfriend" by the priest at his funeral, Paul answers not with his normal glib, but with genuin tear-filled offence.
Girlfriend... It is one thing that this beautiful young man wasn't allowed to live his Life — but must they deny him that short Life that he had?!
- Parental Abandonment: Benjamin's parents pretend that he's dead after he leaves their church.
- Queer Romance
- Really Gets Around: Implied for some of the characters. Paul and Rasmus in particular.
- Rules Lawyer: Paul told the tale of getting a blow-job by an Orthodox Jew. When pointing out the paradox of this the man quipped that he had indeed "Never laid with a man as one lies with a woman" — he had been on his knees the whole time.
- STD Immunity: Averted.
- Straight Gay: Several characters. Most notably Benjamin and Seppo.
- Team Mom: Paul.
- Team Dad: Seppo.
- To Absent Friends: Every year at Christmas they toast to friends who have died from AIDS, using the exact trope words in English even though the rest of the dialogue is in Swedish.
- True Companions: Paul refers to himself and the men in his circle of friends as family and it's obvious that they feel closer to each other than their biological families.