• Member Since 21st Oct, 2012
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ObabScribbler


Author and dramatic reader from YouTube. All your pony are belong to us.

T
Source

“I heard you two mention the sickness. Nasty business, that.”

Applejack set her jaw. “Yeah. It is. Lotta good ponies who did nuthin’ wrong sufferin’ from it.”

“Good? Seriously? Those degenerate colt-cuddlers?” Spoiled Rich chuckled. “Well as far as I’m concerned, it has only one thing going for it – it’s killing all the right ponies.”

An Apple family member makes angry demands of Princess Twilight in the middle of a personal crisis.

Trigger warnings for HIV, the AIDs Crisis, homophobia and death.

I started writing this back in early 2018. It took me three years to finish because of the subject matter and the fact it's a non-linear narrative. All I ask is that you give it a chance to make sense and it will.

Many thanks to my pre-readers who looked at this in its various stages over the past three years: Clever Hooves, Suni, TheLostNarrator and Neighrator Pony

[EDIT] Wow, this stayed in the feature box from June 29th 2021 to July 3rd 2021! Thank you all!

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 63 )
Aquaman #1 · June 29th · · 5 ·

So based on the title and summary, I assume this story is 483 words of Applejack's response to Spoiled's statement, followed by 15,000 words of Twilight helping her friend hide a body.

Aquaman #2 · June 29th · · 2 ·

Okay, actually meaningful comment now I sat here for 35 minutes and read the whole thing in one unbroken string. That's compliment number one, I guess. Many more to follow.

Structural basics first: I think the non-chronological construction of this story was immensely to its benefit. With subject matter as innately tragic and unjust as this, I think telling the story in this way was important not only to balancing out the pacing, but also to emphasizing the peaks and valleys of grief and anger that the characters went through, and the small injustices that created world-shaking consequences in an all-too-real world.

On a similar note, I also love the focus on dialogue, and especially how well it defined and differentiated each speaking character even without dialogue tags. Speaking from personal experience (read as: hearkening back to when I was a less practiced writer more desperate to prove his artistic worth), it's deceptively easy for depictions of tragic experiences to veer into maudlin territory, especially with writers who aren't quite sure if they're capable of giving scenes the weight they deserve without suffocating them under excessive and prosaic descriptions. Obviously, though, you're a great writer, and it shows with how light a touch you lent to the story's most deeply human moments. From start to finish, this was a sincere and gripping read that--even over 15,000 words, certainly no easy feat--never got bogged down in itself or sacrificed character for plot progression.

Finally, I can't stress enough how much I appreciate you taking the time and putting in the effort to translate the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 80s into Equestria, rather than just transposing it on top of a fantasy world for convenience. From my view, the nearly incomprehensible horror and cruelty involved in the real-world equivalent of this story simply can't work in Equestria as a 1:1 comparison, because there simply aren't ponies in Equestria who would conceivably--let alone believably--act with such vicious and deliberate hatred. Adjusting not only the nature of the disease but the specific details of how archaic laws and customs caused so much wholly unnecessary pain made the truth at the story's heart all the more potent, without taking away from or invalidating what your characters went through.

Phenomenal work that I'm so glad and so proud you were able to share with us. And to save myself from a spiel of equal length to this comment about my less horse-centric thoughts on this topic, I'll just quote the great philosopher Killer Mike: "I'm glad Reagan dead."

Good Shit. Cash Money.

Well, was this a fun thing to read after I talked about Pride Month with one of my housemates. Whom then proceeded to give me a long retelling of the story of those two cities that were destroyed by god in the bible and that basically gay people cannot instill good moral values and that gay people adopting might confuse children on “What is normal”

I just... Yikes. Good read.

Incredible.

What a simply incredible story. Not once was the jumping of time confusion or out of place, always helping to heighten the impact of the section prior and afterwards. The whole piece is a majestic tragedy that conveys the anger, and the hurt, and the sadness, that we all should feel at how gay men have been and, in many ways, continue to be treated.

I live in a rural community. I did not need your references for statements as being ones that exist. I have heard them, some even to my face, from neighbours and coworkers. I am lucky, to understate it, to have never been personally or secondarily affected by HIV/AIDS, but from what I have heard and read and seen a million times over, you’ve captured the pain for everyone involved flawlessly.

I feel like I need a little bit to process this. It's... heavy.

That said: did you leave some editing marks in? I see (at least) two links that don't appear to lead anywhere ( labeled n1 and n2).

woozy gaze[n3] to

Why is this here XD

10881366
brokenimage's guess was that a few editors' notes might've accidentally been left in.

Why isn't there a dark tag or a sex tag?

10881409
There's no actual sex, for one. Unless a reference to pedophilia counts.

I wasn't even born during the 80s. I am fairly certain that I am straight as a ruler. I find people who act like Spoiled Rich and the unnamed parents to be appalling beyond measure. Scribbler, you have done it again taking an incredibly difficult topic and using our pastel-colored friends to make sense of it all.
I personally had to take second glances at the story to make sense of how the story was broken up, but that's all on me and not at all a discredit to your work Scribbler.


P.S.
To anyone who has dealt with the real-life equivalent of this story(either the disease or the hatred), you have my utmost condolences/sympathies. No one should have to be afraid of walking out their front door or losing their job and even if I never know you beyond this singular comment, I wish you well in the future.

Incredible. Harrowing. Depressing. Bittersweet. Heartwarming. Heartbreaking.
Well done.

“They just look pretty while doin’ as little as possible.”
-- In early 1985, the Centre for Disease Control developed America’s first AIDS prevention plan, led by renowned epidemiologist Dr. Donald Francis. Ronald Reagan’s government was quick to reject it on February 4th 1985. In August 2012 Dr. Francis recounted in an article in the Journal of Public Health Policy that Dr. John Bennett, the CDC's central coordinator for AIDS and the AIDS Task Force chairman, told him: "Don, they rejected the plan. They said, 'Look pretty and do as little as you can.'" I came across this quote in a Lindsay Ellis video about Rent back in 2018 and it spurred me to do more research and thus was one of the reasons this story was even written in the first place.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck Ronald Reagan.

Well, this is probably the hardest read I've had in awhile.
The story itself is phenomenal, using a creative method to display every after effect caused by Crescent's death is honestly genius.

Your inclusion of sources at the bottom and real historical context just drives the nail right through the readers heart, showing that whilst this story is fictional, it is based on a very real tragedy.

10881452
Ronald Reagan has been whitewashed so damned much it legit sickens me.

Anyway... damn, this hits. I kinda wish Spoiled Rich had been hit, too...

It was a fun read. Even if it was all over the place. :twilightsmile:

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10881477
At best, Reagan was literally senile. At worst... well, the closest thing to putting it into words is up there.

“The Breeder Law, AJ. The one that says ponies can only get officially married if they’re able to bear foals together.”

I know this is a story but I've never wanted to kick a fictional mayors ass more

I'M NOT CRYING YOU'RECRYING!

well, congrats
from the first few paragraphs to the climax i had this looming dread in my gut
from the climax onwards to the end that dread was joined by fear and molten hate

do the people who dislike this fic and the comments actually even read the fic before downvoting or do they just see it's pride-related and instantly go for the downvote because "EW WOKE COOTIES" - like seriously, y'all need to go outside and talk to people or something, 'cos for a group of people who watch a show about friendship there seems to be a lot of negative toxicity regarding this kind of content and that just boggles me

that aside holy SHIT this was a powerful piece of work here, the fact that you went to all this effort to make this as historically accurate as possible in a fantasy setting like Equestria, biographical references and all, is just astounding - major props to you for going that extra mile to not just tell a story, but to educate people as well (also fuck Spoiled Rich, she knew damn well the kind of reaction she would get when she made those taunts and she has the nerve to be taken aback that consequences exist? fuck off Karen Pony, go count your diamonds or something)

tbh I think that this along with the TV series It's a Sin are two of the most stunningly amazing and accurate depictions of this haunting point in history, how this crisis was going on and everyone in power was like "lalala can't hear you counting my money" - mind you I'm only 22 so I can't lay testament to the nuances and specific moments of that time, but I'm sure if you asked anyone who was alive in that period they'd agree

if I could give you more than one favorite I definitely would m8

Just... fucking Christ

The Procreant Matrimonial Act. It forbade marriage for anypony unable to bear foals.

“The Breeder Law, AJ. The one that says ponies can only get officially married if they’re able to bear foals together.”

These do not mean the same thing.

The top forbids infertile ponies from getting married.

The bottom forbids couples (who can not produce foals together) from getting married.

In addition to that, neither of these actually outlaw homosexuality and/or homosexual relationships.

????????????????????????????
Wha de feq?

Twilight tried to become one with her chair.

Geez, I feel so bad for Twilight in this. Here she is, minding her own business, when this guy comes charging into her life and slaps her in the face with a sense of guilt for some assholes enforcing a law that not only she didn't create but was so archaic her own mentor probably didn't even know it existed in any official function. Like, dude, fuck off. I know you're creased as fuck right now but being hurt is no excuse for being hurtful and Twilight is giving every sense of hurt.

“I get that I shouldn’t be angry with Twilight but … I’m still mad.”

:twilightoops: "I didn't ask to be made princess you know, I was literally thrown into this without my consent."

Spoiled shrugged. “They’re the same thing, aren’t they?”

Whelp, she tried. No one can say AJ didn't try.

Twilight drew herself up and took a deep breath. “We need to talk.”

:twilightangry2: "When we get back in four or five brief vignettes through time and space jumbling the storyline around annoyingly you're in so much trouble!"

Because I didn’t know how to tell her I was too scared to stop being as cruel as she said

I'd say the original purpose it fulfilled was less cruel and more utilitarian. If nothing else the continued existence of the species kind of trumps most anything else. Granted she should have repealed it later but out of fear that history would repeat she didn't. Fearful ignorance might have a bad outcome but it was never from a place of cruelty. Cruelty implies intent.

This was an excellent story. The time skips and scene cuts fit perfectly with the sense of hurt and confusion that comes with situations like these. It's incredibly difficult to have a harmony between what's being read and the act of reading, to feel what the characters feel not because of the meaning of the words on the page, but in how those words are read.

I'm explaining this poorly. I apologize. I'm... emotionally compromised.

When a scene cuts abruptly, before I'm able to get a grasp on what's happening, who it's happening to, or when it's happening, I feel... cheated, like it's unfair. Which is exactly what the actual characters feel; cheated by life, and how it's so unfair that such a wonderful pony suffered and died as he did.

Really, I think there's a lot to learn from this example you set in how to structure a fractured story in a manageable and satisfying way.

I have a lot more to say about this, but none of it can really be put to words. At least not at this time. Just... very well done.

I...At the end of it, I honestly don’t know what to say, really. Just the way you brought it all together was beautiful and tragic, reflecting just how sad losing someone is as well as the feeling of being blamed unfairly for your loved one’s death. You can feel the hopelessness of the situation, and in the end, you can’t help but feel sorry for Braeburn, praise for the ponies who were there for him, and mad at Celestia, at the mayor, at Crecent’s family, Spoiled, all of them for their own reasons.

Wow. What an excellent story relating to a real life tragedy. I don’t know anyone else brave enough to dare tackling this subject and I applaud you for carrying through with it. You’ll always be my favorite writer!

10881788
If you knew more about the real AIDS pandemic, you’d understand. The public was the real monster. People like Spoiled, the mayor, and Braeburn’s parents. Authority figures too scared to do anything like Celestia. They buried it away and pretended there wasn’t a problem. Law was never the REAL evil.

This was quite well written. (\ /)

10881823

Cruelty implies intent.

It does. But there was intent.

It wasn't the intent to do this specific harm, but the intent to leave the law in place despite knowing that this was part of the impact.

To do something "for the greater good" despite not knowing if it actually is, while knowing it does harm?

That is possibly the cruelest thing you can do, because you're insisting that the cruelty is objectively the right thing to do. That the suffering is necessary, and you shouldn't be upset about it because it accomplishes something better.

Except it probably doesn't. In this case,it doesn't come up in the story, but I'd almost wager that it's due to the emergence of the disease as presented in the story,before ponies started to develop even basic immunities. Even if it wasn't, there are any of thousands of other ways to encourage birth rates, in or out of marriage, even with a strong cultural aversion to out of wedlock childbirth.

It just seems like the easiest solution to put in place. And then to keep in place, just in case. Despite knowing that the very existence of the law means that there are ponies it hurts - otherwise,why would you have it?

The law became a toxic security blanket that Celestia couldn't bring herself to do without, despite it harming her subjects.

And that's cruelty, even though it may not be evil.

Well this hurt.
In a good way. You've written something very powerful, and if anyone manages to have dry eyes at the end of reading this story, they've got a heart of ice.
It's so well written as well, the broken and fractured timeline was such a powerful tool, but you never really feel totally lost reading it. Memories and life inter-spliced with each other in a maelstrom of emotions.
Absolutely beautiful and heart-wrenching.

A good story. I like it taken as a whole, when but only when ignoring its one glaring flaw. The 1st quarter is so disjointed I almost gave up reading it. There is solid writing here but the way it jumps around is not great for reading. With a little editing this could be amazing, but as is I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

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One of the many reasons he was among the top 3 worst president. The only reason he doesn't definitively hold the top spot is because the competition has been so damn fierce in the last 2 decades. Evil fuck.

Such a sad story. It hits a little close to home for me in a few ways, I lost 3 friends to HIV, one had caught it from his ex-girlfriend and two had gotten it from sharing needles, I was a kid in the 80's when the AIDS epidemic hit and I remember hearing so many parents, mine included, and preachers calling it "The gay plague" and "God's wrath on those living in sinful lifestyles", in school for health class, even when I was in high school(I graduated in 1997 for reference) they were teaching that gay and black people were most likely to catch it, the teacher even used the class as a platform to interject her own sexual and racial bigotry by out right stating "That the bisexuals and interracial couples were the ones responsible for spreading the disease to the rest of us". Though today things are better now, there is still intolerance out there. Several years ago Pat Roberson claimed that in San Francisco there is a "gay mafia" who wears special pinkie rings with razor blades built in them designed to infect people who don't have HIV. A few years ago there was a political ad paid for by a Christian organization that ran on the radio about the coming "gay storm", and all I could picture is instead of wind, rain, flooding and property destruction, there would be dance music, glitter, great fashion and after it passed, property values would go up.

10881477

Like both Bush. And maybe even Trump given enough time.

It's incredible how much character you manage to convey from dialogue alone. This is bolstered by the non-linier storytelling, as the conversations help clue is in to what's going on in absence of scenery description. Did you intentionally write this with audiodramas in mind, given that's a big part of your creativity?

My only real criticism is the lack of resolution. This may have been intentional, but it was so open ended, it feels like any real conclusions were an afterthought. We've seen all the tragic consequences of this archaic law keeping Breaburn from the last legal connections to his lover, and the bigotry of those who see him as lesser. But where do we go from here? Was the point of the story to simply understand how horrible the situation is and how miserable it makes everyone?

This story had me hooked from start to finish, and maybe I'm bias, but I would have definitely preferred more closure. Especially on the Celestia and Luna front.

10882295
Andrew Jackson has entered the chat.

“Because I didn’t know how to tell her I was too scared to stop being as cruel as she said. And I didn’t know how to say she was right and admit I was wrong … for so long … and all the ponies like that stallion whose lives I affected by being too scared to repeal a piece of paper I wrote with ponies who have been dead for nine hundred years and do not have to live with the consequences of our decisions.”

The banality of evil, they call it. Something we should all strive to remember, because good intentions will never heal the dead.

Of the many things I regret the most about my Time in Afghanistan is when we (the US Army) where looking for a senior District official . We knew he was gay, which is why we wanted to get him. Sadly it leaked out and all we ever found where parts…… the Taliban executed him for having AIDS, even though he did not have it. It’s a long nasty story that I cannot tell but Afghanistan has an amazingly low population of around 4% of the population most of whom are women and children. I wish there was something more I could do to stop that from happening to anyone else. The stigma around queers is massive and almost entirely do to ignorance. It’s horrifying that people can and do die of a disease that is largely treatable and preventable.
May you freely love the people important in your life, and live to the fullest of your abilities.

10882648

Just like in real life there isn't an immediate resolution. Braeburn will spend time with his family trying to heal his wounds, and the prejudice against homosexual ponies will fade over time (yet never entirely) by a combination of social movements, scientific advance, education programs and legal reforms (maybe by Twilight).
Just like in real life.

Treatment and prevention of disease has a cost. If you don't have the bits and you get sick; you deal with it till you get better or die. That's just life in a free market.

I also don't understand the almost universal "Gay Braeburn" trope on this site. It's like people forget about Little Strongheart or write her off as his beard.

Well I'm always amazed by the people like Spoiled Rich... who trust that the social contract will defend them while they trounce on it thoroughly... I wonder how would they react to an answer on the kind of "So... you are destroying my livelihood... Ok Nothing to lose with breaking your neck." How much are you willing to push?
As for the story, the only relatively weak point is the law. As it does not really address the issue at the time... The pony were breeding and by Celestia admission they were doing that ONLY within the confines of marriage... so a law that FORBIDS those who CAN'T breed to marry would not change anything, it does not increase the number of married couple, and does not increase the breeding. So... Ok it can be just Celestia grasping at straws and throwing out crazy things hoping anything sticks...

10883334
And that is why the US health system is bad as hell...

10883407
And there is a flaw with the whole breeding program in the first place i don't know about this world but if it anything like ours there are couples even if you have a male and female who can't have kids.

10881788
Well unless same set couples can have kids and at the time probably donations were probably out of the question for getting a kid.

10881321
that begs the question what exactly is normal. Time changes everything so what is supposed to be normal today could be odd tomorrow.

10883334
You make an excellent argument against the free market.

10883334
Little Strongheart (if adult size is anything to go by) is a calf. Teen at best.

Probably the same reason I always use male pronouns with Dash unless I think on it. They see him and think; gay cowboy. I look at her and think; a dude.

Okay, uh... jeez, I wasn't expecting to be crying tonight. What a whirlwind of emotions this was. Good... this was good shit Scribbler, you did good.

I am not the slightest bit surprised that this story took a long time to write.

It's always an exceedingly delicate balance, trying to lever human-world society and history into the colourful, fluffy, generally more optimistic world of Equestria, and even in the show itself it hasn't always gone smoothly.

Add to that the similarly delicate and demanding anachronic order format, and you have the tallest or orders, here, with precious little margin for error in structure, tone, or execution. In clumsy hands, this story could have been offensive. Tone-deaf. Cringe-inducing. A disaster. I can't emphasize enough what a gamble even TRYING to write a fic like this looks like to me.

And I believe you pulled it off.

A story about a crisis this grave, this wrenching, and this lamentably, horridly true strains the cheery setting to its limits, but I felt you showed elegance and wisdom in making just a few small tweaks to help smooth together human history with a pony cast.

While Ponies seem to lack the genuinely poisonous bigotry humans are sadly capable of, we've seen how prone they can be to fractiousness and social pressure, especially among the snootier types. Intolerance from a character like Spoiled wasn't too far-fetched, and it fit much better than, say, randomly making a character known to be open-minded and kind into a creep out of the blue.

The magical aspects of the condition and the presence of a relative immortal like Princess Celestia were also welcome additions, better 'flavouring' the history to jibe with the setting, and providing a unique perspective with no human-world analogue. Being able to sit down and speak with the framer of an outdated and unwelcome law is a great narrative opportunity. She became a sort of avatar for the lasting harm the problematic decisions of the past can do in the present.

Beyond all that though, you put the focus where it belongs -- on the ponies involved. I work in the media, and the rallying cry for any news story is to find The Human Angle. Who is affected? How do they feel? What is their experience? News hits harder when one puts a face to it. In this fic, you zoomed in on a society-wide crisis to find a single exemplary tale to stand for all the stories not told. A face to put to the news, to ground things and anchor them to the emotions involved. And it turned that broad crisis into an intimate, raw, and harrowing piece of equine drama.

I say again: this was a risky decision on your part, and I am genuinely impressed with how well you made it work. I applaud your fortitude in seeing it through to the end across multiple years. I'd say the results were well worth the wait.

That was... heavy...

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