Derek, a distinguished designer and J, his husband, a pioneering entrepreneur and creator of both The Embassy Club, London’s answer to Studio 54, and iconic Heaven, Europe’s largest gay discotheque, met and fell in love more than 40 years ago.
Their lives were high-octane, full of adventure, fun and fearless creativity. Suddenly their friends began to get sick and die – AIDS had arrived in their lives. When they got tested, J received what was then a death sentence: he was HIV Positive. While the onset of AIDS strengthened stigma and fear globally, they confronted their personal crisis with courage, humour and an indomitable resolve to survive. J’s battle lasted six long years. Turning to spiritual reflection, yoga, nature – and always to love – Derek describes a transformation of the spirit, how compassion and empathy rose phoenix-like from the flames of sickness and death. Out of this transformation also came Aids Ark, the charity they founded, which helped to save, amongst the world’s most marginalised people, more than 1,000 HIV Positive lives.
This is a story of joy and triumph; about facing universal challenges; about the great rewards that come from giving back. Derek speaks for a generation who lived through a global health crisis that many in society refused even to acknowledge. His is a powerful story chronicling this extraordinary time.