Huw Christie Harry Williams
9th Feb. 1960 - 17th Aug. 2001
By Michael Baumgartner
"Two roads diverged in the woods and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference ..."
-- Robert Frost
On August 17th Huw Christie, former editor of CONTINUUM Magazine, died
at the age of 41 at his father's home in St. Helens, Tasmania, Australia.
He remained editor until March of this year, even though he was not well,
and, therefore, had moved back to his family.
The world lost a man who was committed to fact-finding journalism, a
rarity in today's world of commercially conscious reporting. Huw Christie's
magazine was to date the only scientific AIDS and health journal where
critical, fact-based, uncensored reporting about AIDS and its suggested
cause, the alleged "HI-Virus", was possible. By doing so he
helped hundreds possibly thousands of people around the world to make
informed choices about their health and the treatment of their conditions,
classified as AIDS.
An incisive mind, and a generous friend, we at IFAS/CONTINUUM mourn Huw
Christie's death and honour his memory and all he has done for people
at risk of medically induced death.
Huw Christie Harry Williams was born on 9th February, 1960, in George,
South Africa. He moved with his mother, Jean, and father, Eryl Williams
Christie, to the Australian island of Tasmania in 1961, where his sister
Kate was born in 1963 and his brother David in 1970.
He went to Devonport Primary School and gained an entry Scholarship to
Melbourne Grammar. Huwís brilliance and eagerness to learn showed
early. While at Melbourne Grammar School, he was awarded no less than
five internal scholarships. In his matriculation year he completed nine
subjects and gained high distinctions and the highest mark possible in
every one, including music practice and theory.
While at Trinity College, Melbourne, he was accepted and elected to go
to Brasenose College, Oxford University, in England. Huw completed his
studies in English literature at Oxford with an honours degree.
While waiting to go up to Oxford, Huw - only 18 years old - was invited
to teach Latin and French at Melbourne Grammar.
At that time, he also won the C.J. Dennis Memorial Prize for under 18s
with a poem entitled Hesitation that he had written for a friend who was
One of the first things Huw did on arriving at Oxford was to buy a piano
for five pounds. Playing the piano was a very important part of Huwís
life. Student Huw Williams said his five-pounder made Winifred Atwell's
piano sound like a Steinway.
Huw decided to become an actor. His first role was in the television drama
For the Term of His Natural Live in 1983. He had his one line to the late
Anthony Perkins, who later died of what has been called AIDS.
Huw was part of the South Australian Theatre Company in Adelaide, in Victoria,
in New South Wales and Queensland. Both in live theatre, television and
films he wrote, produced and acted. In his final year at Oxford he acted
in one university and two college productions and wrote, produced and
acted in a production at the Edinburgh Festival. Despite all this, he
still managed to gain his Oxford honours degree at the end of his final
He acted and played the piano in a production with John Olson in South
Australia in a play called Masterclass, which they toured throughout Australia.
At one stage Huw even considered a career as a concert pianist.
Amongst his belongings shipped back to Tasmania there was an old piano,
once used in a dance studio. It has been given to him in London for his
40th birthday. The only time he was well enough to play it was very shortly
after it arrived in Tasmania, when he sat down and, with enormous emotion
at his fatherís house, played the Welsh National Anthem, bringing
his father to tears.
Huw was a man of immense talent. His Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses
with the Royal Queensland Theatre Company was said to be outstanding.
Huw also had roles in several feature films including Wild Saragossa Sea
directed by John Duigan, For Love Alone directed by Stephen Brooks, and
The Riddle of the Stinson, directed by Chris Noonan.
Huw himself directed Giving Up the Ghost for the Festival of New Australian
Theatre, and co-produced the half hour 16mm film Lavender Bay Getaway.
Huw worked continuously, acting and directing in Australia, and later
Jamaica, whilst living with his long time partner, Barry Gamba, in Sidney,
where they had moved to in 1984. But he decided to pursue his career in
Europe and the US, so he moved to Britain in 1991 and lived in Fishguard
on the Welsh coast, where he had inherited a small house. Los Angeles
never materialised. Instead, he bought a house in London later that same
year and founded his own production company, Brazen Films Ltd.
And this is how we met. It was eight years ago, on a cold September day
in London. I remember it only too well. I was attending one of those toxic
pharmaceutical AIDS-drugs dispense seminars at London's biggest gay fair,
the Gay Lifestyle Exhibition, more justly referred to as "London's
gay lifestyle exploitation". I had left the seminar in great fury
because it was neither scientifically bound nor did it provide opportunities
for critical questions. Gays were keen to find yet more poison.
Still fuming, I returned to the stall of CONTINUUM Magazine - my refuge
for that day. I discovered its founder, the late Jody Wells, with a microphone
in his face. He looked at me, and introduced me as "the man who knows
all there is to know about AIDS". Far from being true, I found myself
being interviewed and filmed. Behind the camera was Boo Armstrong, later
a volunteer with CONTINUUM. Holding the microphone was Huw Christie. Later
that day, I recalled the name and face of that charming, soft-spoken,
attractive red-head, who I was getting to know, with his over-sized camel
coat, later to be lost on his a visit to Bern. I wanted to meet him again,
because open-minded gay men willing to listen carefully were rare. The
gay world of dissent is colder and lonelier now you have gone, Huw, and
so is my life.
It took you several months - my 28th birthday was coming up - to ring
me. I had almost forgotten about you by then. You talked about making
a movie and invited me to work on the AIDS-related scientific aspects
of it. So you invited me to dinner. It was exactly my 28th birthday. I
impressed you with my inside knowledge of the psycho-social-political
dimension of the AIDS-abuse, and you charmed me with your warm voice,
gentle smile and good looks. I wanted to act in your movie. You were after
an ..... affair. We both didn't get what we wanted that night.
But still we decided to meet again. Later that same year, you invited
me back to London to work on the documentary part of your movie called
Gettin' It. The movie did not happen for reasons we both know. But we
became friends and sometimes a bit more.
I remember how you became involved with CONTINUUM, starting as a researcher
for the magazine in 1994. A year later you and Molly took over the magazine
from Jody. Jody fell ill, but did not want to let go of being in charge.
A problem you did not have last year. You produced your first issue in
Molly's living room. Soon after that, she left and CONTINUUM Magazine
became Huw Christie.
Brazen Films ceased to exist and so you changed your career from an actor
to that of an editor. You felt it was time to move on, ready for a new
challenge. CONTINUUM gave you this challenge. In many ways it became your
new stage. But this career was different. Did you really choose it, or
did AIDS choose you?
In the summer of 1993, you underwent a so-called "anti-HIV-antibody
test". It came back positive. Whilst reading a medical desk-reference
book for doctors in the waiting room of an AIDS-service organization in
London, you discovered a sentence saying that one should not undergo "HIV"
testing for the two-year period following a hepatitis vaccination. You
had recently had such a vaccination, shortly before your "HIV-antibody-test".
Could this mean, you thought, that your positive test result was not due
to the alleged "HI-Virus" alleged to cause AIDS, but was really
due to hepatitis-antibodies being wrongly interpreted? And if so, how
many other people, especially gay men, were in the same situation, not
knowing this important fact, much like you till that day? Your life in
London took another dramatic turn. Like all of us, you were hooked into
the great AIDS-drama.
"Two roads diverged in the woods and I, I took the one less travelled
by, And that has made all the difference ..." You investigated and
you published what you found, and, by so doing, helped possibly thousands
of people to regain hope and the power over their lives, otherwise lost
to the ever growing virus-industry.
You were a man of many gifts. From what was basically little more than
a national newsletter, you created an internationally recognized magazine.
You highlighted important scientific work by such eminent scientists as
Eleni Eleopulos and her team (the Perth Group), the late Professor Alfred
Hassig and Professor Peter Duesberg and many others, including an article
by HRH the Prince of Wales. You have put the truth out there for the world
You even found time to contribute to New African Magazine and Index on
Censorship.† And you enjoyed being an associate producer for several documentary
films on AIDS. You were so willing to help out others, that many took
advantage of your generosity and knowledge. You spearheaded a joint project
with the European Commission on health, immunity and nutrition in the
Ukraine. You inherited it, much like you inherited the magazine. And you
began to hate it, for it became yet another burden on your life. Yet you
carried it through, with little money and little help.
In your last year, you travelled to Johannesburg to again be assistant
producer to MEDITEL Productions in a revealing film interview with another
great mind - like yourself - South African President Thabo Mbeki. This
interview was shown on television in many countries and made waves, just
like CONTINUUM Magazine did in Britain, thanks to you efforts.
You visited me in Switzerland. We have worked together, first on your
film project, then on the magazine, and later on the EU project, and then
again on the magazine. I offered to create an advisory panel of scientists
and experts for CONTINUUM to help you in your work. But you were not very
good in making use of the help offered. You were a loner and it began
to show in your work on the business side of CONTINUUM Magazine.
I suggested reorganisation. You listened, but still seemed unable to make
the necessary changes in your own life and that of CONTINUUM. It almost
seemed to me as if you needed things the way they were? I would not leave
you, a promise I gave you and kept till the end. But I did distance myself
from our work at CONTINUUM that became your prison. I involved you in
the founding of the International Forum for Accessible Science (IFAS)
in 1997. That and my regular articles for the magazine remained our professional
involvement. However, throughout the years and many difficulties, we stayed
The organisation supposed to carry the magazine fell apart. You tried
to keep things together for the past two years. People stepped in to help,
a little money here, and some equipment there, never enough to really
get the magazine off the ground. But it was enough to keep you going,
until your health could not take it any longer. CONTINUUM was bankrupt,
and you fell into poverty, a situation for which you had no talent.
You were interviewed for one of the many commercial AIDS magazines in
December 1999. You finished this interview with the statement that I cannot
get out of my mind. You said: "It's a weird world when the kind of
people you might want to be close to socially think youíre offensively
wrong. I think that's what helped kill people like Jody Wells, not some
half-baked HIV." You described your own situation, Huw, didn't you?
For you were lonely and more and more isolated in London.
I can still hear your fragile voice, when you finally rang me up in Switzerland
and shyly asked me for help. Of all the people you knew who considered
you their friend, you called me when you realized you could not take it
any more. I am thankful and glad you did, Huw! Shortly after that phone
conversation I was in London. What I saw broke my heart.
A lonely, tired, skinny, prematurely aged man - poverty stricken, with
the saddest eyes I have ever seen - met me at Liverpool street station
in London, in early October last year. You were in pain, physically and
emotionally, and you were exhausted. Did the exhaustion finally cease,
You were afraid of dying, and I saw you crying for the first time ever,
when holding you to ease your pain. "You will not die now,"
I heard myself comfort both of us. "We die when our time is up, and
I don't think yours is up yet!" I was right then. But I did not recognise
that you had already started the last bit of your journey here on earth.
It was clear to me, however, that your life in London must come to its
end. And it did. It took us only a few weeks to bring it to a close (as
good as possible).
CONTINUUM was of no interest to you any longer. And finally you were able
to admit just how much you hated the life you ended up living in London.
You referred to it as a rat-walk between your house and the CONTINUUM
office. You felt abandoned and wanted to move out. We sold your house
in no time. You started to play with the idea of returning to your family
to Australia, whilst I prepared our journey to Switzerland. I remembered,
how you feared my inevitable return to Switzerland. And how you safely
snuggled-up in bed and went to sleep, after I told you, that I had already
told my family that I will bring you home with me. For the first time
in our relationship you were happy with me taking charge.
We spent much time together in London, Switzerland and later Australia.
I was moved by the amount of intimacy you allowed between us. You insisted
in our heart-to-heart every night before we went to bed. I massaged your
feet and legs, to ease your several physical distresses, as you started
to receive the treatments of your choice.
Each symptom made you fear for the worst. Yet the worst-case scenario
never came true. Your angels did look after you well, until there was
nothing more to be looked after in this life of yours.
Your sister, Kate, brought you home to Tasmania safely late last year.
You were looking forward to being an older brother to David. Something
you had not been able to do before, you felt. All of a sudden, old childhood
friends, including your former partner and colleagues from your time as
an actor in Australia, became your life again. We stayed in touch and
talked every week at least on the telephone, until, until your sister
rang to tell me that you had passed on, with your beautiful blue eyes
wide open into the new.
Neither of your illnesses would have brought you down, Huw. You simply
ran out of time to change gear. We both knew it did not need some ill-identified
virus to explain your several symptoms. You knew the causes for your conditions
and so did I. Poverty had taken its toll, and so had the no-future urban
gay lifestyle you had in common with so many other gay men, especially
in cities like London.
You really were too sensitive for this world, Huw, and, as you said to
me one evening, ìsensitive people die youngî. Live fast and
die young, you did it, and yet you seemed the most surprised when death
came to you at 8.15 am on a sunny, winter day in Tasmania on August 17th.
Did you really think that just because there is no "HIV", your
situation was not serious?
You have taught me important gifts, gifts that will help me throughout
my life, such as accepting things we cannot change, diplomacy, to the
extent my emotional persona allows, generosity, as you were one of the
most generous people I have known. You made me see that we are of the
privileged kind. We choose to do something meaningful in our lives, something
that helps others, even if we might never see the full extent of our contribution
ourselves. Your greatest gift to me, though, was never to feel imprisoned
by our lives. And you gently forced me to write, something I never thought
I could do. I know, you are proud to see what I have published since.
And, even though Iíll be never as good a writer as you were, I
will continue to express my opinions and insights on paper, as promised!
I often ask myself what I might have given to you, and when I cannot remember,
I read the card you have gave me last year for Christmas. "You are
my saint," you wrote. Will you be my Guardian Angel now?
You have been my first great love, Huw (something you felt ambivalent
about). I will continue to "intrude" into your life on the other
side, Huw, just as I did in your life in London after we met those eight
years ago. I will always remember fondly your "Michael! Hello!"
whenever I rang you, and I, yes Huw, I do know how much my love meant
As for CONTINUUM Magazine, you left me with a great responsibility. You
never demanded that I should take it over and yet you had the confidence
in me to do a good job as editor of CONTINUUM Magazine. Thank you for
that! We discussed that it would be good if CONTINUUM Magazine - the only
critical AIDS magazine - remained under the leadership of a gay men. After
a short period as acting-editor, I now had to make the professional decision
you never did, to close CONTINUUM-Magazine down. Before I do so, I see
it as my duty to make sure CONTINUUM Magazine will not be forgotten and
all the important articles, carefully chosen by you, will stay accessible.
Let us face it: CONTINUUM Magazine was you! It will never be the same
without you. Others have filled the gap of distributing crucial information
on AIDS. None of these venues is quite like yours was, but the spirit
of CONTINUUM Magazine will live on. Just as yours does in my life!
.... and as for me, well, I might just write my book finally. Yes, Huw,
the one we have talked about over dinners and glasses of wine, the one
you always wanted me to write.
I am ending this obituary to you my friend with a paragraph of someone
you always reminded me of somehow, "The Little Prince":
"Come and play with me," the little Prince proposed. "I
am so sad ..."
"I cannot play with you," said the fox. "I am not tamed
"Oh, sorry!" said the little Prince, and, after a moment's thought,
he added: "What does it mean, "to tame"?"
"You are not from here," said the fox. "What are you looking
"I look for the people," said the little prince. "What
does it mean, "to tame"?"
"That is something forgotten," said the fox. "It means
to make oneself familiar with."
"To make familiar with?"
"Sure," said the fox. "You are nothing but a little boy
to me, just like all the other little boys out there. I do not need you,
and you do not need me either. I am just a fox for you, like all the foxes
in the world. But if you make yourself familiar with me, we will need
each other. You will be the only one for me in the world, just as I will
be the only one for you in this world ....."
I was but a Swiss, and you were but an Australian both living in London,
when we first met. But we did tame each other after all, Huw, didn't we?Love
Huw Christie is survived by his mother, Jean Christie-Williams, his father
Eryl Williams, and his sister, Kate Williams, and brother, David Williams,
and his family, to whom I wish to express my deepest gratitude for having
welcomed me in their lives when Huw needed me, respecting his wishes,
even when it might have been difficult, and to attend him till the end.
YOU ARE A WONDERFUL FAMILY!
I would, furthermore, like to express my deepest gratitude to the following
people for the love and support they have given Huw and me:
My family, especially my parents Hans and Nelly for opening up our home
to my man in need, cooking delicious meals (Huw said your chicken pizza
was heaven, Dad!), cleaning for us and keeping Huw good company (I will
not forget how you and my mom spoke French and had good gigles! And I
forgive you mom, for giving him his favourite Swiss cookies, when they
were clearly not on his diet!)! To my beautiful sister, Sena-Susanne for
her assistance with hospital staff (I might be in prison now for killing
an AIDS-specialist, if it werenít for you!) and nursing Huw when
I needed to sleep! I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH! And to her partner, Thomas, for
driving us from hospital to hospital and back, when yet another step was
To all the staff - especially the nurses - at the Ita-Wegman-Clinic in
Arlesheim, Basel, especially Dr. Wildervank! We finally found a hospital
that helped us by co-operating with Huw's treatment wishes! THANK YOU
To Kate Williams for coming to Switzerland to take Huw home, for always
respecting his wishes, even if they might have been difficult to accept
at times. YOU ARE A REAL GREAT SISTER!
To the two nurses, Jera and Michael, who were nursing Huw seven days a
week, THANK YOU!
To his long time partner, Barry, and all his Australian friends, who welcomed
Huw back into their lives, THANK YOU for the friendship you even extended
To Sara and Nigel from CONTINUUM Magazine, THANK YOU for staying with
us till the end!
To Huw's London friends, Joan, Clair, and Cordelia, THANK YOU for helping
us getting through the last and difficult days in London!
... and THANK YOU WITH ALL MY HEART, all other angels in London, Switzerland
and Tasmania (including the travels in between!), who - albeit unnamed
here, are not forgotten - helped us in so many ways by ending Huw's pain
and making his journey home easier!
HUW IS AT PEACE AT LAST!
Bern, Switzerland, October 2001,
acting editor of CONTINUUM Magazine