Life Goes On (1989-1993) was the first television series in U.S. history not only to introduce a recurring teenaged HIV-positive character but also to feature an actor with Down syndrome in a leading role. Drawing new connections among disability studies, queer theory, and bioethics, I argue that Life responded to American disability rights activism and the AIDS epidemic of the early 1990s by depicting sex education as disability activism. By portraying fulfilling sexual relationships for its disabled protagonists, Life challenged heteronormative and ableist underpinnings of marriage, sexuality, reproduction, and sex education and imagined transgressive queer/disabled alliances that often surpassed those of activists of its cultural moment. By representing homophobia, AIDS-phobia, and ableism as intertwined oppressions, the series conjured an expansive vision of sexual justice and pleasure, one that included and united teenagers, intellectually disabled people, and seropositive people-populations whose sexualities have generally been regarded as pathological or nonexistent.
J Bioeth Inq. 2012 Sep;9(3):317-26