When calypsonian Merchant died of HIV-related causes in 1999, his life and death became a conduit for the public discussion of HIV/AIDS in Trinidad and Tobago. Merchant was remembered simultaneously as a womanizing, working-class calypsonian and as a closeted gay man. These public narratives, like narratives of other individuals associated with disease or epidemics, used music to allocate risk to marginalized groups and, by implication, away from much of the general Trinidadian public.

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