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The true story behind the DALLAS BUYER'S CLUB

Woodroof wasn't an unlucky homophobe, he was really a bisexual man who'd had unsafe sex. The government never came after him. Corrupt doctors didn't bedevil him and he wasn't friends with a drag queen named Rayon.

King of clubs

According to the movie, Ron Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey) was a hard-drinkin’, fast-lovin’, heavy-druggin’ homophobe whose reckless behavior resulted, quite by accident, in a diagnosis of AIDS by a caring physician (Jennifer Garner). At the time, doctors gave him about a month to live.

But Ron was a fighter with a hardscrabble Texas spirit. He refused to cede to death. When he couldn’t find drugs in the U.S. market to stem the spread of his HIV, he sought them out in Mexico and Japan. When the Food and Drug Administration balked at his efforts to sell grey-market drugs (with the help of a drag queen named Rayon, played by Jared Leto), he established the Dallas Buyers Club: a members-only co-op where those who paid a fee could access the drugs he just “happened” to have.

A lot of that never happened.

There was no Rayon, no FDA raiding his business regularly, no corrupt doctors on the take to Big Pharma. He was not a homophobe either, according to those who knew him, but rather openly bisexual. And the doctor who was Woodroof’s primary care physician throughout much of his treatment wasn’t a woman, but Dr. Steven Pounders, who’s still in practice today.

You might expect that Pounders, who met with the screenwriter more than three years ago to have his brain picked for details about Woodroof’s life, might object to being changed into a woman — even a beautiful one. But that’s not the case. Not at all.

“It’s a movie, but it got a lot of very true facts [right],” he says. “Ron was doing all that stuff. He was diagnosed with AIDS — not even HIV, but AIDS — and had no T-cells. He was taking Peptide T [which is shown in the movie] and Compound Q [which was not]. He had this incredible ability to fit in, which is why it was accurate to present him as [pretending to be a priest] to carry drugs over the border. It does make a good story.”
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