Years after Ryan White passed away, his dear friend and legendary singer Elton John penned a letter to express his gratitude.
Very few have done what Ryan White did to remove the stigma surrounding AIDS and Elton John, more than anyone else, knew the gravity of the 13-year-old boy's contribution. Letters of Note shared a heartwarming expression of love Elton John shared for a young boy, Ryan White, who passed away due to AIDS in his teenage years in the 90s. He has had such a profound impact on the legendary singer Elton John that he is remembered even after all these years. White contracted the disease during his treatment for hemophilia, a blood condition he had since birth.
White stayed as cheerful and resumed living and spreading joy until the day of his death. He appeared on television and stood in support of fellow patients diagnosed with AIDS. The singer had been close to him and was even with him on his deathbed. Addressing the heartwarming letter to White, the singer wrote, “I would gladly give my fame and fortune if only I could have one more conversation with you, the friend who changed my life as well as the lives of millions living with HIV. Instead, I have written you this letter.”
Elton John went back in time to recollect meeting White, describing him as an “epitome of grace.” “You never blamed anyone for the illness that ravaged your body or the torment and stigma you endured,” the letter read. “When students, parents and teachers in your community shunned you, threatened you and expelled you from school, you responded not with words of hate but with understanding beyond your years. You said they were simply afraid of what they did not know,” the singer added.
Elton John visits 18 year old AIDS patient, Ryan White on his deathbed pic.twitter.com/fFemFa2lyl— VisionaryVoid (@VisionaryVoid) December 19, 2023
Through his letter, Elton John penned down the attributes White stood by throughout his life, pointing toward the brave and strong young man he was. He shared how White refused to accept the label of an “innocent victim” and stood in solidarity with fellow patients. “You reminded America that all victims of AIDS are innocent,” he said. As if he were really addressing the letter to White, the singer even mentioned how medication and technology help many AIDS patients lead normal lives and how much he’d have loved the same for the boy.
Elton John— Ashley Tisdale Daily (@TisdalesDaily) February 2, 2021
Sir Elton John says when his friend, the young AIDS activist Ryan White, died in 1990, he felt a lot of regret that he had spent the previous decade absorbed in alcohol and cocaine misuse. He sought treatment in 1990 and established the Elton John AIDS Foundation. pic.twitter.com/8cVzZTNC8T
The singer then revealed that the boy’s efforts to spread awareness did not go in vain. “In 1990, four months after you died, Congress passed the Ryan White Care Act, which now provides more than $2 billion each year for AIDS medicine and treatment for half a million Americans,” the singer wrote. He added, “It breaks my heart that you are not one of them. You were 18 when you died, and you would be 38 this year if only the current treatments existed when you were sick.”
Thirty years ago today, Pres. Bush signed the Ryan White CARE Act, proving that Americans could come together to fight a global pandemic here at home. With mobilized communities and strong national leadership, we did it with HIV/AIDS; we can do it again with COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/zPwJw5i9rc— David A. Hansell (@DavidHansell1) August 18, 2020
Elton John further mentioned how the country could use the compassion and the ever-motivated spirit that White had. The letter expressed all the unsaid things the singer had in his heart for the boy. It was as if he had penned down 20 years’ worth of conversations. Elton John concluded the letter with a tear-jerking message about how much he misses White. “You’ve been with me every day since. You inspired me to change my life and carry on your work,” he wrote before concluding, “Your friend, Elton.” In addition to the Ryan White CARE Act created in honor of White, the singer has also created the Elton John HIV AIDS Foundation to help those in need.