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It is not often that I open an index to a history archive and begin crying. But that is exactly what happened as I just started reading an extensive list of not only names and events but subject matter that shows we as LGBT's, even when fighting for the right to have a plague lifted from our midst, are much more than the depraved hedonists we are portrayed as.

I didn't start tearing up because I am some sort of sentimental type or if I had read the name of a loved one lost. These activists were becoming the pebble in the shoe of forces that to this day are still fully intent in crushing our ability to exist. They managed to change the course of political and social forces by standing up for themselves when no one else would. At a time when churches were a familiar fixture in civil rights marches or actions their absence was telling to the communities they served. There were no churches telling their flock to join the march to get HIV treatment covered by the VA. Instead sometimes small but rarely silent groups would march anyway.

Just a cursory look at the index sans HTML gives us an idea of the breadth of knowledge we lost from an event that could have been reined in:

AZT 3/24
   African Americans and 2/32
   Anemia and 2/32
   Approval 2/32
   Clinical Trials 2/32
   Decision to take 2/33; 3/10

Barr, David 2/53; 3/21, 3/27

Bars/Clubs 2/45
   The Bar 2/48
   The Pyramid 3/32

Bauer, Amy 2/25

Berlin 2/61

Black, Roger 3/6

Books 3/3, 3/4, 3/5, 3/6

Bordowitz, Gregg 2/30, 2/45, 2/47; 3/17

Boston 3/5

Bowen, Peter 2/58

Breast Cancer 3/39

CDC (Center for Disease Control)
   Changing the Definition of AIDS 2/25

Candido 3/11

Capitalism 2/34

Carrasco, Cesar 3/11

Chicago 2/13, 2/59

Civil Rights Movement 3/39

Class (see ACT UP: Members' Demographics) 2/33, 2/34, 2/35, 2/47, 2/48

I saw ACT-UP as both something desperate and cunningly brilliant. Activities like throwing animal blood on those ignoring pleas for help was disgusting but so effective to a culture so focused on demonization of us that it would recoil in horror from the thought of our bodily fluids touching them. The targets of these actions themselves were creating the ignorance that made such tactics effective.

Of course by using these tactics the Fear Department ratcheted up their propaganda to direct the public to not accept these tactics.

Columbia University has a feature film length program on youtube of the ACT-UP project titled United in Anger.

The videos of the oral histories themselves apparently require players I don't want or need but as you can see from the index are quite extensive.

Originally posted to Remembering LGBT History on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 01:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Milk Men And Women, Angry Gays, and The Rebel Alliance.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The "underside" of history (5+ / 0-)

    even in supposedly Marxian academia, is seldom presented as important. I teach students who are convinced by their indoctrination that all social struggle

    a. belongs to the very distant past and
    b. is futile in our day and age and also a severe, even prohibitive stigma of some sort.

    A real success story for the Fear Dept and its odious beneficiaries.

    Thanks for these memos from the other side, HBIII.

  •  Looks like a fantastic project. (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks, HBIII.

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 05:18:02 AM PDT

  •  Worth pointing out, though (10+ / 0-)

    that ACT UP isn't just history, it's present. They're still very much around; the New York City chapter meets Mondays, 7 or 8 pm at the LGBT Center on 13th.

    Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

    by MBNYC on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 05:49:25 AM PDT

  •  Well, of course! (9+ / 0-)

    Anyone who does research on twentieth century subjects understands how important oral histories are to filling in the outlines that more "traditional" sources give you. If you didn't have a visceral reaction to this material I'd wonder about you.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 06:15:49 AM PDT

  •  Once again (7+ / 0-)

    The action must have a reaction!  Kudo's to the pioneers of human rights including the bra burners which led Cosmo magazine to post if you were the right body type to go bra-less. The message got lost after that however the cause is still there and still worth fighting for.

    I remember the medical video I saw that stated one could not get AIDS from a drinking fountain.  I also recall as a surgical nurse in Miami where nurses were protesting against taking care of AIDS patients!  I was appalled.  I threw a temper tantrum!  It is a double edged sword.  On one side is the truth and the other is fiction. I realized that even though one has the education and intelligence they can still allow myths to override their thinking and in my opinion their oath to treat others.

    I got called on the carpet so to speak by the nurse manager.  I told her this behavior was unacceptable.  She said very calmly looking right at me that if I were working there full time perhaps I would understand.

    I realized then and there my focus on educating the educated was futile.  So, not long after that, I packed my things and went back to my hometown and marched in the gay rights parade to demonstrate my fervent passion for human beings.  I changed my focus to educate those individuals with AIDS and their families.  I took my own pebble out of my shoe!

    Your diary prompted me to share this and to acknowledge the understanding that we do what we have to do to get the message out.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It lends perspective to the history we read.  

  •  "Queers read this..." (5+ / 0-)

    is just as powerful and significant as last Wednesday's
    bigot fest at Chick-fil-a

    Queers read this

    Stonewall was a RIOT!

    by ExStr8 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 07:50:19 AM PDT

    •  That deserves its own history post. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ExStr8, jessical

      Wow! excerpt:

        How can I tell you. How can I convince you, brother,
      sister that your life is in danger:  That everyday you wake
      up alive, relatively happy, and a functioning human being,
      you are committing a rebellious act. You as an alive and
      functioning queer are a revolutionary.
         There is nothing on this planet that validates, protects
      or encourages your existence.  It is a miracle you are
      standing here reading these words.  You should by all rights
      be dead.  Don't be fooled, straight people own the world and
      the only reason you have been spared is you're smart, lucky
      or a fighter.
         Straight people have a privilege that allows them to do
      whatever they please and fuck without fear.  But not only do
      they live a life free of fear; they flaunt their freedom in
      my face.  Their images are on my TV, in the magazine I
      bought, in the restaurant I want to eat in, and on the
      street where I live.  I want there to be a moratorium on
      straight marriage, on babies, on public displays of
      affection among the opposite sex and media images that
      promote heterosexuality.  Until I can enjoy the same freedom
      of movement and sexuality, as straights, their privilege
      must stop and it must be given over to me and my queer
      sisters and brothers.  Straight people will not do this
      voluntarily and so they must be forced into it.  Straights
      must be frightened into it. Terrorized into it.  Fear is the
      most powerful motivation. No one will give us what we
      deserve.  Rights are not given they are taken, by force if
      necessary.  It is easier to fight when you know who your
      enemy is.  Straight people are your enemy.  They are your
      enemy when they don't acknowledge your invisibility and
      continue to live in and contribute to a culture that kills
      you. Every day one of us is taken by the enemy.  Whether
      it's an AIDS death due to homophobic government inaction or
      a lesbian bashing in an all-night diner (in a supposedly
      lesbian neighborhood).

      Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:37:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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