Jan. 18, 2022 – For queer people, especially, it’s almost impossible to separate Rose—uh, Betty, we mean—from episodes of The Golden Girls that were slyly revolutionary for taking on ’80s-verboten topics like homosexuality. (The show even cleverly argued for marriage equality as early as 1991!) When it comes to AIDS, which was ravaging America’s queer communities in the years The Golden Girls ran, the show is probably best known for the hilarious scenein which the girls try—and fail—to buy condoms discreetly at a drugstore.

But there was another episode, called “72 Hours,” in 1990, in which Rose, having had a blood transfusion many years ago, is told by the hospital that she should have an HIV test. For one tense episode, she became the face of anyone fearing rejection and stigma due to their HIV status. “If that test turns out to be positive, you’re not gonna want to be around me,” she tells the other girls—saying bluntly, at another point, “I might have AIDS, and it scares the hell out of me.”


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