Tag Archives: Act Up

The New-York Historical Society Announces Home For New American LGBT Museum in NYC

Gay History – January 4, 1982: NYC’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis Founded in Response to AIDS Epidemic

Six months after the New York Times reported on a “gay cancer” that was showing up in gay men. The Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City was founded. GMHC was non-profit, volunteer-supported, and community-based AIDS service organization whose mission statement is to “end the AIDS epidemic and uplift the lives of all affected.”

The organization was founded in January 4, 1982 after reports began surfacing in San Francisco and New York City that a rare form of cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma was affecting young gay men. After the Centers for Disease Control declared the new disease an epidemic. The Gay Men’s Health Crisis was created when 80 men gathered in New York gy activist and writer Larry Kramer’s apartment to discuss the issue of “gay cancer” and to raise money for research. GMHC took its name from the fact that the majority of those who fell victim to AIDS were gay.

The founders were Nathan Fain, Larry KramerDr. Lawrence D. Mass, Paul Popham, Paul Rapoport and Edmund White. Through hard work and many obstacles they organized the formal, tax-exempt entity. At the time it was the few and largest volunteer AIDS organization in the world. Paul Popham was chosen as the president much to Larry Kramer’s chagrin.

Rodger McFarlane who began an AIDS crisis counseling hotline that originated on his own home telephone was named as the director of GMHC in 1982 He created a more formal structure for the nascent organization, which had no funding or offices. When Mcfarlane took on the role of GMHC it operated out of a rooming house in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

McFarlane lamented the inequitable treatment of gays by society at large, noting how “We were forced to take care of ourselves because we learned that if you have certain diseases, certain lifestyles, you can’t expect the same services as other parts of society”

Larry Kramer resigned from GMHC in 1983 to form the more militant ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) as a more political alternative. From that time on his public comments and posture toward GMHC were negative, if not hostile. Kramer’s play The Normal Heart is a roman à clef of his involvement with the organization.

On April 30, 1983, the GMHC sponsored the first major fund-raising event for AIDS – a benefit performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

By 1984, the Centers for Disease Control had requested GMHC’s assistance in planning public conferences on AIDS. That same year, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus was discovered by the French Drs Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier. Within two years, GMHC was not only helping gay men who contracted the disease but were also assisting heterosexual men and women, intravenous drug users, and children.

GMHC still exists today and after almost 40 years fighting AIDS in New York City and across the nation, GMHC has gained clients who have been with the program as long as 25 years, many of whom are now 50 years of age or older. GMHC services have evolved as its clients have grown older to ensure programs meet the needs of the aging HIV-positive population.

To this date the GMHC has helped millions of Americans deal with AIDS and AIDS related issues.

Image result for paul popham
Image result for gay men's health crisis

Image result for gay men's health crisis

Gay Activist and Hero Vito Russo – Vito Remembered: “Why We Fight.”

Vito Russo (July 11, 1946 – November 7, 1990),was a gay activist, film historian, author, and the co-founder of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Vito Russo was a true activist and a gay American hero.  He fought through words and actions, in literature and in the streets and he kept fighting even up until the very end.

Russo participated in every significant milestone in the gay-liberation movement: the dark days of pre-Stonewall invisibility, the Stonewall rebellion and its aftermath, and the AIDS crisis of the 1980’s and the formation of ACT UP.

Vito Russo was born on July 11, 1946 and  grew up in East Harlem. As a young boy, he would sneak into Manhattan to go to the movies. From an early age, Russo knew he was “different.” A cousin remembers him always talking about Rock Hudson rather than Ava Gardner. 

After graduating from New York University, Russo joined the Gay Activists Alliance. Vito threw himself into gay activism with zest and became an architect of the media-grabbing “zaps” that made headlines for GAA and helped break the cultural silence about homosexuality. He quickly became one of GAA’s stars, becoming a fiery speaker. In the early 1970’s, he started research for “The Celluloid Closet”, which entailed watching hundreds of films that included gay content and stereotypes. What originated as a lecture with film clips became one of the most informative books about gay people and pop culture. 

During the AIDS epidemic Vito watched the world he loved crumble beneath his feet. Vito received his AIDS diagnosis in 1985 and that same year outraged by the media’s inadequate and inaccurate coverage of the epidemic which was well into its first decade with thousands already dead, Russo co-founded GLAAD, an organization that at which was to monitored LGBT news and representation in the media. An organization which has sadly now forgotten its co-founders original mission. 

In 1986, Russo’s life was shattered when he lost his longtime partner, Jeffrey Sevcik, to AIDS. 

At the New York State Capitol in Albany in 1988 Russo gave his history-making activism speech. “Why We Fight”  (posted below) before a crowd of  hundreds’of angry ACT UP demonstrators.

In 1990 Vito Russo spent a year in California at the University of California, Santa Cruz, teaching a class, also entitled “The Celluloid Closet”.

Vito passed away from of AIDS-related complications that same year on November 7th. 1990 at the age of 44.

Vito Russo’s death epitomized how AIDS, that grimmest of reapers, had wiped out a whole generation of gay liberation’s best and brightest militants throughout the 1980’s.

His life’s work was posthumously brought to television in the 1996 HBO documentary film The Celluloid Closet, co-executive produced and narrated by Lily Tomlin. 

“Why We Fight”

A friend of mine in New York City has a half-fare transit card, which means that you get on buses and subways for half price. And the other day, when he showed his card to the token attendant, the attendant asked what his disability was and he said, I have AIDS. And the attendant said, no you don’t, if you had AIDS, you’d be home dying. And so, I wanted to speak out today as a person with AIDS who is not dying.

You know, for the last three years, since I was diagnosed, my family thinks two things about my situation. One, they think I’m going to die, and two, they think that my government is doing absolutely everything in their power to stop that. And they’re wrong, on both counts.

If I’m dying from anything – I’m dying from the fact that not enough rich, white, heterosexual men have gotten AIDS for anybody to give a shit. You know, living with AIDS in this country is like living in the twilight zone. Living with AIDS is like living through a war which is happening only for those people who happen to be in the trenches. Every time a shell explodes, you look around and you discover that you’ve lost more of your friends, but nobody else notices. It isn’t happening to them. They’re walking the streets as though we weren’t living through some sort of nightmare. And only you can hear the screams of the people who are dying and their cries for help. No one else seems to be noticing.

And it’s worse than a war, because during a war people are united in a shared experience. This war has not united us, it’s divided us. It’s separated those of us with AIDS and those of us who fight for people with AIDS from the rest of the population.

Two and a half years ago, I picked up Life Magazine, and I read an editorial which said, “it’s time to pay attention, because this disease is now beginning to strike the rest of us.” It was as if I wasn’t the one holding the magazine in my hand. And since then, nothing has changed to alter the perception that AIDS is not happening to the real people in this country.

It’s not happening to us in the United States, it’s happening to them – to the disposable populations of fags and junkies who deserve what they get. The media tells them that they don’t have to care, because the people who really matter are not in danger. Twice, three times, four times – The New York Times has published editorials saying, don’t panic yet, over AIDS – it still hasn’t entered the general population, and until it does, we don’t have to give a shit.

And the days, and the months, and the years pass by, and they don’t spend those days and nights and months and years trying to figure out how to get hold of the latest experimental drug, and which dose to take it at, and in what combination with other drugs, and from what source? And, how are you going to pay for it? And where are you going to get it? Because it isn’t happening to them, so they don’t give a shit.

And they don’t sit in television studios, surrounded by technicians who are wearing rubber gloves, who won’t put a microphone on you, because it isn’t happening to them, so they don’t give a shit. And they don’t have their houses burned down by bigots and morons. They watch it on the news and they have dinner and they go to bed, because it isn’t happening to them, and they don’t give a shit.

And they don’t spend their waking hours going from hospital room to hospital room, and watching the people that they love die slowly – of neglect and bigotry, because it isn’t happening to them and they don’t have to give a shit. They haven’t been to two funerals a week for the last three or four or five years – so they don’t give a shit, because it’s not happening to them.

And we read on the front page of The New York Times last Saturday that Anthony Fauci now says that all sorts of promising drugs for treatment haven’t even been tested in the last two years because he can’t afford to hire the people to test them. We’re supposed to be grateful that this story has appeared in the newspaper after two years. Nobody wonders why some reporter didn’t dig up that story and print it 18 months ago, before Fauci got dragged before a Congressional hearing .

How many people are dead in the last two years, who might be alive today, if those drugs had been tested more quickly? Reporters all over the country are busy printing government press releases. They don’t give a shit, it isn’t happening to them – meaning that it isn’t happening to people like them – the real people, the world-famous general public we all keep hearing about.

Legionnaire’s Disease was happening to them because it hit people who looked like them, who sounded like them, who were the same color as them. And that fucking story about a couple of dozen people hit the front page of every newspaper and magazine in this country, and it stayed there until that mystery got solved.

All I read in the newspapers tells me that the mainstream, white heterosexual population is not at risk for this disease. All the newspapers I read tell me that IV drug users and homosexuals still account for the overwhelming majority of cases, and a majority of those people at risk.

And can somebody please tell me why every single penny allocated for education and prevention gets spent on ad campaigns that are directed almost exclusively to white, heterosexual teenagers – who they keep telling us are not at risk!

Can somebody tell me why the only television movie ever produced by a major network in this country, about the impact of this disease, is not about the impact of this disease on the man who has AIDS, but of the impact of AIDS on his white, straight, nuclear family? Why, for eight years, every newspaper and magazine in this country has done cover stories on AIDS only when the threat of heterosexual transmission is raised?

Why, for eight years, every single educational film designed for use in high schools has eliminated any gay positive material, before being approved by the Board of Education? Why, for eight years, every single public information pamphlet and videotape distributed by establishment sources has ignored specific homosexual content?

Why is every bus and subway ad I read and every advertisement and every billboard I see in this country specifically not directed at gay men? Don’t believe the lie that the gay community has done its job and done it well and educated its people. The gay community and IV drug users are not all politicized people living in New York and San Francisco. Members of minority populations, including so called sophisticated gay men are abysmally ignorant about AIDS.

If it is true that gay men and IV drug users are the populations at risk for this disease, then we have a right to demand that education and prevention be targeted specifically to these people. And it is not happening. We are being allowed to die, while low risk populations are being panicked – not educated, panicked – into believing that we deserve to die.

Why are we here together today? We’re here because it is happening to us, and we do give a shit. And if there were more of us AIDS wouldn’t be what it is at this moment in history. It’s more than just a disease, which ignorant people have turned into an excuse to exercise the bigotry they have always felt.

It is more than a horror story, exploited by the tabloids. AIDS is really a test of us, as a people. When future generations ask what we did in this crisis, we’re going to have to tell them that we were out here today. And we have to leave the legacy to those generations of people who will come after us.

Someday, the AIDS crisis will be over. Remember that. And when that day comes – when that day has come and gone, there’ll be people alive on this earth – gay people and straight people, men and women, black and white, who will hear the story that once there was a terrible disease in this country and all over the world, and that a brave group of people stood up and fought and, in some cases, gave their lives, so that other people might live and be free.

So, I’m proud to be with my friends today and the people I love, because I think you’re all heroes, and I’m glad to be part of this fight. But, to borrow a phrase from Michael Callen’s song: all we have is love right now, what we don’t have is time.

In a lot of ways, AIDS activists are like those doctors out there – they’re so busy putting out fires and taking care of people on respirators, that they don’t have the time to take care of all the sick people. We’re so busy putting out fires right now, that we don’t have the time to talk to each other and strategize and plan for the next wave, and the next day, and next month and the next week and the next year.

And, we’re going to have to find the time to do that in the next few months. And, we have to commit ourselves to doing that. And then, after we kick the shit out of this disease, we’re all going to be alive to kick the shit out of this system, so that this never happens again.

 

Gay History Month – October 20: ACT-UP Protests the UN, Dr. Evelyn Hooker, and the First Gay Wedding On TV May Surprise You.

Gay/LGBT History Month - October 20: ACT-UP, Dr. Evelyn Hooker, Jesse Helms and the First Gay Wedding On TV

October 20th.

1958:  Truman Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s is published in the November issue of Esquire Magazine. Gay men everywhere begin to name their cat “Cat”.

1969: The National Institutes of Mental Health released a report based on a study led by psychologist Dr. Evelyn Hooker stating that sodomy laws should be repealed.

Evelyn Hooker who applied for a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant to conduct research on “normal homosexuals.” presented the results of her research at the APA’s 1956 Annual Convention in Chicago.  After the NIMH’s report,  Dr. Hooker’s work on the homosexual subculture led to Hooker receiving an award in 1992 for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in the Public Interest from APA.  In her response to this honor, she shared the award with the gay and lesbian community and expressed pleasure that her research and her “long advocacy of a scientific view of homosexuality” could make their lives and the lives of their families better. She closed her address by reading from a letter she had received from a gay man thanking her for her work and saying, “I think you did it because you knew what love was when you saw it, and you knew that gay love was like all other love.”

1987 : Over fifty ACT-UP members are arrested during an act of civil disobedience protesting President Reagan’s lack of action to the AIDS epidemic.  In another demonstration a few days earlier about 150 people protested across the street from the United Nations building during the UN General Assembly’s first debate on AIDS. The General Assembly resolved to mobilize the entire UN system in the worldwide struggle against AIDS, under the leadership of the World Health Organization. 

1987: The US House of Representatives voted 368-47 to approve an amendment to withhold federal funding from any AIDS education organization which encourages homosexual activity. The senate approved a similar amendment the previous week by a vote of 94-2. It was introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms. / The US House Judiciary Committee voted 21-13 to approve a bill requiring the justice department to collect statistics on hate crimes, including anti-gay violence.

1991:  The first prime-time same-sex wedding on U.S. television – network TV, at that – aired on the Fox sitcom Roc .

The Season One episode “Can’t Help Loving That Man,” focuses on Roc’s uncle (Shaft’s Richard Roundtree) revealing he’s gay and going to marry a man named Chris, and the family’s subsequent struggle to accept his lifestyle, ultimately culminating with Roc (Charles S. Dutton) hosting the ceremony (at that time not legal) in his home. 

1992: The San Diego Police Department announced that it was severing its ties with the Boy Scouts of America due to a local chapter’s dismissal of a gay police officer who was involved with the Explorer program.

1993: Roman Catholic priest Rev Andre Guindon dies of a heart attack at age 60. In his book “The Sexual Creators” he wrote that heterosexuals should look to same-sex couples to learn about tenderness and sharing.  After the release of his book the Vatican demanded that Guindon apologize and bring his teaching more in line with the Catholic Church.   Rev Andre Guindon  never apologized and never changed his progressive teachings.

Gay History - March 24, 1987: ACT UP Stages Its First Major Protest In NYC, 17 Arrested - Video

Gay History – March 24, 1987: ACT UP Stages Its First Major Protest In NYC, 17 Arrested – [Video]

March 24, 1987 – ACT UP stages its first major demonstration on Wall Street in New York City.

Outraged by the government’s mismanagement of the AIDS crisis, LGBT and straight allies unite to form the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. ACT UP.

ACT UP’s first demonstration takes place three weeks later on March 24th, 1987 on Wall Street, the heart of the  the financial center in NYC, to protest the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies (especially Burroughs Wellcome, manufacturer of AZT). Over 250 people participated in the protest and seventeen were arrested.

ACT UP’s flyer for the event listed its demands:

NO MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL!

Come to Wall Street in front of Trinity Church at 7AM Tuesday March 24 for a

MASSIVE AIDS DEMONSTRATION

To demand the following

1. Immediate release by the Federal Food & Drug Administration of drugs that might help save our lives.

These drugs include: Ribavirin (ICN Pharmaceuticals); Ampligen (HMR Research Co.); Glucan (Tulane University School of Medicine); DTC (Merieux); DDC (Hoffman-LaRoche); AS 101 (National Patent Development Corp.); MTP-PE (Ciba-Geigy); AL 721 (Praxis Pharmaceuticals).

2. Immediate abolishment of cruel double-blind studies wherein some get the new drugs and some don’t.

3. Immediate release of these drugs to everyone with AIDS or ARC.

4. Immediate availability of these drugs at affordable prices. Curb your greed!

5. Immediate massive public education to stop the spread of AIDS.

6. Immediate policy to prohibit discrimination in AIDS treatment, insurance, employment, housing.

7. Immediate establishment of a coordinated, comprehensive, and compassionate national policy on AIDS.

President Reagan, nobody is in charge!

AIDS IS THE BIGGEST KILLER IN NEW YORK CITY
OF YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN

The first few minutes of the clip below from Fight Back Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT UP and the tweet from ACT UP below is the only remaining footage of the first protest.

Fight Back Fight AIDS: 15 Years of ACT UP clip from Frameline on Vimeo.

March 10, 1987: ACT UP (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) Is Formed In NYC

Gay History – March 10, 1987: ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) Is Formed In NYC [VIDEOS]

On March 10, 1987 – ACT UP (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) was effectively formed at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York when Larry Kramer was asked to speak as part of a rotating speaker series. His well-attended speech focused on action to fight AIDS. Kramer spoke out against the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which he perceived as politically impotent in the fight against AIDS. Kramer who had co-founded the GMHC had resigned from its board of directors in 1983.

ACT UP was organized as a leaderless. This was intentional on Larry Kramer’s part: he describes it as “democratic to a fault.” It followed a committee structure with each committee reporting to a coordinating committee meeting once a week. Actions and proposals were generally brought to the coordinating committee and then to the floor for a vote, but this wasn’t required – any motion could be brought to a vote at any time. Gregg Bordowitz, an early member, said of the process:

This is how grassroots, democratic politics work. To a certain extent, this is how democratic politics is supposed to work in general. You convince people of the validity of your ideas. You have to go out there and convince people.

Although Larry Kramer is often labeled the first “leader” of ACT UP, as the group matured, those people that regularly attended meetings and made their voice heard became conduits through which smaller “affinity groups” would present and organize their ideas. Leadership changed hands frequently and suddenly.

Below is a chronological account of some of New York ACT UP actions are drawn from Douglas Crimp’s history of ACT UP, the ACT UP Oral History Project, and the online Capsule History of ACT UP, New York

WALL STREET:  On March 24, 1987, 250 ACT UP members demonstrated at Wall Street and Broadway to demand greater access to experimental AIDS drugs and for a coordinated national policy to fight the disease. An Op/Ed article by Larry Kramer published in the New York Times the previous day described some of the issues ACT UP was concerned with. Seventeen ACT UP members were arrested during this civil disobedience.

On March 24, 1988, ACT UP returned to Wall Street for a larger demonstration in which over 100 people were arrested.

On September 14, 1989, seven ACT UP members infiltrated the New York Stock Exchange and chained themselves to the VIP balcony to protest the high price of the only approved AIDS drug, AZT.

GENERAL POST OFFICE:  ACT UP held their next action at the New York City General Post Office on the night of April 15, 1987, to an audience of people filing last minute tax returns. This event also marked the beginning of the conflation of ACT UP with the Silence=Death Project, which created a poster consisting of a right side up pink triangle (an upside-down pink triangle was used to mark gays in Nazi concentration camps) on a black background with the text “SILENCE = DEATH”.

FDA:  On October 11, 1988, ACT UP had one of its most successful demonstrations (both in terms of size and in terms of national media coverage) when it successfully shut down the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for a day. Media reported that it was the largest such demonstration since demonstrations against the Vietnam War.

The AIDS activists shut down the large facility by blocking doors, walkways and a road as FDA workers reported to work. Police told some workers to go home rather than wade through the throng.

“Hey, hey, FDA, how many people have you killed today?” chanted the crowd, estimated by protest organizers at between 1,100 and 1,500. The protesters hoisted a black banner that read “Federal Death Administration”.

Police officers, wearing surgical gloves and helmets, started rounding up the hundreds of demonstrators and herding them into buses shortly after 8:30 a.m. Some protesters blocked the buses from leaving for 20 minutes.

Authorities arrested at least 120 protesters, and demonstration leaders said they were aiming for 300 arrests by day’s end.

COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE: In January 1988, Cosmopolitan magazine published an article by Robert E. Gould, a psychiatrist, entitled “Reassuring News About AIDS: A Doctor Tells Why You May Not Be At Risk.” The main contention of the article was that in unprotected vaginal sex between a man and a woman who both had “healthy genitals” the risk of HIV transmission was negligible, even if the male partner was infected. Women from ACT UP who had been having informal “dyke dinners” met with Dr. Gould in person, questioning him about several misleading facts (that penis to vagina transmission is impossible, for example) and questionable journalistic methods (no peer review, bibliographic information, failing to disclose that he was a psychiatrist and not a practitioner of internal medicine), and demanded a retraction and apology. When he refused, in the words of Maria Maggenti, they decided that they “had to shut down Cosmo.” According to those who were involved in organizing the action, it was significant in that it was the first time the women in ACT UP organized separately from the main body of the group. Additionally, filming the action itself, the preparation and the aftermath were all consciously planned and resulted in a video short directed by Jean Carlomusto and Maria Maggenti, titled, “Doctor, Liars, and Women: AIDS Activists Say No To Cosmo.” The action consisted of approximately 150 activists protesting in front of the Hearst building (parent company of Cosmopolitan) chanting “Say no to Cosmo!” and holding signs with slogans such as “Yes, the Cosmo Girl CAN get AIDS!

“STOP THE CHURCH”:  ACT UP disagreed with Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese’s public stand against safe sex education in New York City Public Schools, condom distribution, the Cardinal’s public views on homosexuality, as well as Catholic opposition to abortion. This led to the first Stop the Church protest on December 10, 1989, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.  In December 1989, approximately 4,500 protesters mobilized by ACT-UP and WHAM! gathered outside a mass at the cathedral. A few dozen activists entered the cathedral, interrupted Mass, chanted slogans, or lay down in the aisles.] One protester broke a communion wafer and threw it to the floor. One-hundred and eleven protesters were arrested.[23] Only minor charges were filed, punished primarily by community service sentences; some protestors who refused the sentences were tried, but did not serve jail time.

DAY OF DESPERATION:  On January 22, 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, ACT UP activist John Weir and two other activists entered the studio of the CBS Evening News at the beginning of the broadcast. They shouted “AIDS is news. Fight AIDS, not Arabs!” and Weir stepped in front of the camera before the control room cut to a commercial break. The same night ACT UP demonstrated at the studios of the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour. The next day activists displayed banners in Grand Central Terminal that said “Money for AIDS, not for war” and “One AIDS death every 8 minutes.” One of the banners was handheld and displayed across the train timetable and the other attached to bundles of balloons that lifted it up to the ceiling of the station’s enormous main room. These actions were part of a coordinated protest called and mass marches throughout America.  Many demonstrators were arrested and, as they and their fellow activists would continue to be throughout the years, subjected to police brutality, as well as anti gay verbal and physical harassment.

ACT UP chapters still exists today. By the early 21st century ACT UP had more than 70 chapters around the world and had expanded its vision to include an end to the worldwide AIDS crisis. It has been argued that their efforts radically changed the way the world saw the AIDS crisis and the power of the gay rights movement.

Watch the videos below and look closely.  THIS is what REAL activism looks like.

READ: AIDS Activist Peter Staley's Emotionally Raw Eulogy for Larry Kramer

READ: AIDS Activist Peter Staley’s Emotionally Raw Remembrance Larry Kramer

Longtime AIDS activist Peter Staley knew Larry Kramer quite well. Both were influential members of ACT UP — Kramer being one of the group’s co founders — and Staley would later go on to leave ACT UP to launch another HIV organization, the Treatment Action Group (TAG) in January 1992.

On Wednesday Staley wrote his remembrances of Kramer shortly after his death was announced. Despite disagreements and tensions between the two men, Staley makes clear that while not perfect, Kramer was the “spark” that pushed the government and pharmaceutical industry to take action against the disease.

I was just a kid when I walked into my first ACT UP meeting, just weeks after Larry Kramer’s movement-launching speech in March of ’87. I hadn’t heard about the speech. I didn’t even know who he was. But I would hear of it soon enough. Larry’s life became part of the steep learning curve I desperately climbed that year.

We were all kids, except for Larry, Maxine, and a few others. He even called us “my kids.” I tried to grab a seat close to him at Woody’s after Monday night meetings, where ACT UP’s most committed members would stay up late, deconstructing the meeting, debating our future, and dishing the group’s gossip over many beers.

Those moments were the happiest I’ve ever seen him. He was finally witnessing the community he dreamed of. He loved our youthful energy and picking our brains. For me and many others, Larry became a father figure, asking about our lives, setting us up on dates — my relationship and lifelong friendship with Kevin Sessums was because of Larry — and genuinely caring about our struggles and fears.

Those moments were the happiest I’ve ever seen him. He was finally witnessing the community he dreamed of. He loved our youthful energy and picking our brains. For me and many others, Larry became a father figure, asking about our lives, setting us up on dates — my relationship and lifelong friendship with Kevin Sessums was because of Larry — and genuinely caring about our struggles and fears.

We forget that ACT UP was born six years into the crisis. Six lost years, as the country and its president ignored a new virus that was slaughtering a community they despised. Larry told us to fight back. In short order, we guilt-tripped an entire nation of people and two Republican presidents to react. By 1990, the AIDS research budget at the NIH hit one billion dollars a year.

It was a movement that caused that sudden shift, but Larry was its spark. Those tax dollars resulted in treatments that keep 25 million people with HIV alive today.

When TAG split off from ACT UP in ’92, our relationship took its first of many blows. But by then, we had too much shared history to turn our backs on. Too many meetings. Too many phone calls. Too many shared losses. A deep well of mutual respect set in. Even though we both came to view each other as deeply flawed, the respect remained.

He accused me of “destroying ACT UP,” and for not being angry enough in the years since. I accused him of being woefully out of touch. By the early 90s, he was a broken record that’s been skipping ever since. He never understood science, which became a prerequisite for effective AIDS activism. He was a borderline conspiracy theorist. The clarity of vision he had in the 80s turned into a blindness of sorts, especially around the remarkable progress younger LGBTQ Americans have fought for and won.

Even his early legacy became muddied for me over time. There were two Larry’s back then. The first deserves every statute that gets built in his honor — the Larry who used anger to launch the two main branches of our community’s AIDS response, the beautiful self-care response that Gay Men’s Health Crisis valiantly built while the world looked away, and the activist response that forced that same world to look, and respond.

The second Larry was the moralist whose finger-wagging, like all finger-wagging, brought adulation from other moralists, but had no effect on the rest of us. AIDS was not a price we paid for finally building communities of freedom on both coasts. There have been only two sexually transmitted pathogens in all of human history that have killed in the millions — syphilis and HIV — and they hit us 500 years apart. AIDS was not an inevitable result of gay life in the 1970s. As an epidemiological event, it was simply bad luck.

To this day, gay men carry the added burden of a society that sexually shames us. Larry played a part in this. To be fair, most of this critique is inside baseball. To the larger world, Larry was our community’s greatest advocate. He constantly told straight America that his gay brothers and sisters were the most beautiful people on earth. He pushed back against the hate directed at us like no advocate before him. Larry loved gay people, and spent his entire life fighting for us.

I just got off the phone with Tony Fauci. I broke the news to him via text earlier today. We’re both surprised how hard this is hitting. We both cried on the call.

I’ve told Larry to fuck-off so many times over the last thirty years that I didn’t expect to break down sobbing when he died. His husband David kept the recent hospitalization under wraps, not wanting to deal with a million phone calls. I found out only last week, and only after Larry was doing much better. As of Saturday, he was still improving. I only heard this morning that everything spiraled in the last 48 hours.

Larry’s timing couldn’t be worse. The community he loved can’t come together — as only we can — in a jam-packed room, to remember him. We can’t cry as one and hear our community’s most soaring words, with arms draped on shoulders in loving support. Broadway has no lights to dim, which it surely would have.

Can we please do this next year?

Fuck, this hurts. I keep flashing back to those early ACT UP meetings. I put on a good show, always in mission-mode. But the more I’ve written about those years, the more I’ve remembered how scared I was — diagnosed when I was 24 years old. It was all bottled up, but I was terrified. Those meetings gave me the only hope I could find back then. Larry orchestrated the launch of ACT UP. He plotted with Eric Sawyer and others, planting calls for a new group during the Q&A after his speech.

Larry Kramer founded a movement, and I’m alive because of that. Millions more can say the same. All his faults fade away in the wake of our thanks.

Gay History – September 14, 1989: ACT UP Protests the NYSE, Crashes Trading Floor

On September 14, 1989, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) led a noon protest of 350 people in front of the New York Stock Exchange, targeting Burroughs Wellcome and other companies that it felt were profiteering from the epidemic by their high pricing of the AIDS drug AZT, which was unaffordable to most people living with HIV.

The demonstration was planned to coincide with those held in San Francisco and London that day.

Separate from the noon rally, ACT UP members Peter Staley, Lee Arsensault, Greg Bordowitz, Scott Robbe, James McGrath, and two other members who served as photographers infiltrated the Stock Exchange that morning. Chaining themselves to the VIP balcony, they dropped fake $100 bills onto the trading floor and disrupted the opening bell for the first time in history. Their miniature foghorns drown out the opening bell, as they unfurled  a banner above the trading floor demanding “SELL WELLCOME” . Their photographs were given to the Associated Press and the story went national.

As a result of these demonstrations, Burroughs Wellcome lowered the price of AZT by 20 percent four days later.

George H.W. Bush Is Dead: Not As Bad As Reagan But He Still Had AIDS Victim's Blood On His Hands - Video

George H.W. Bush Is Dead: Not As Bad As Reagan But He Still Had AIDS Victim’s Blood On His Hands – Video

Via Andy Humm on Facebook:

If you’re mourning George H.W. Bush, watch this. All of it. ACT UP v. Bush in 1992. He gave us LOTS of reasons to protest vociferously–and said during one of the debates that we just had to change our behavior. At the end of the video, Larry Kramer says that unless we can get this president to listen, “We’re as good as dead.” It closes with AIDS activists–many still active–dancing in the streets when Bush lost to Clnton. (No, that didn’t change everything. But it was the beginning of the change.)

Click the arrow below and watch a compilation of AIDS activist actions against President George H.W. Bush.

 

WATCH: The Official US Trailer for BPM (Beats Per Minute) The Portrait of ACT UP-Paris

(ACT UP) – AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power  was not only prevalent in America but was also an international direct action advocacy group working to impact the lives of people with AIDS (PWAs) during the AIDS pandemic to bring about legislation, medical research and treatment and policies to ultimately bring an end to the disease by mitigating loss of health and lives.

The French movie BPM (Beats Per Minute)  follows a group of  Paris  ACT Up activists battling  for those stricken with HIV/AIDS, taking on sluggish government agencies and major pharmaceutical companies in bold, invasive actions.. Many of them gay and HIV-positive, embrace their mission with a literal life-or-death urgency. Amid rallies, protests, fierce debates and ecstatic dance parties, the newcomer Nathan falls in love with Sean, the group’s radical firebrand, and their passion sparks against the shadow of mortality as the activists fight for a breakthrough.

Next to the United States, France has the highest number of AIDS cases and deaths.

BPM won the Grand Prix at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and is France’s official Oscar® entry for Best Foreign Language Film.

 

Former "Pharma Bro" Company To Pay $40M Settlement For Price-Gouging AIDS Medicine

Pharma Douche-Bro Martin Shrekeli Reneges On Plan To Lower Price Of HIV/AIDS Medication

Pharma Douche Martin Shrekeli Reverses Plan To Lower Price Of HIV/AIDS Medication

 

Skeevy Pharma douche-bro Martin Shrekeli has changed his greedy little mind on lowering the price of Daraprim a drug used to treat a parasitic infection and often given to HIV patients which he raised over 500% to $750 a pill after buying the company who made them originally for $13.50 a pill.

Arstechnica reports:

Turing Pharmaceuticals AG will not reverse its decision to raise the price of a decades-old drug, Daraprim, by more than 5,000 percent, backing out of previous statements that it would cut the cost by the end of the year. In an announcement on Tuesday, the company said that the list price of Daraprim, which jumped from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill earlier this year, will not change. Instead, the company will offer hospitals up to 50 percent discounts and will make other adjustments to help patients afford Daraprim, a drug used to treat a parasitic infection and often given to HIV patients.

With the price standing, Turing will offer additional money-saving measures such as new, smaller bottles with only 30 tablets, helping to reduce the costs for hospitals to stock the medicine. The company will also offer zero-cost starter samples and, for commercially insured patients, co-payments of no more than $10 a prescription. For uninsured patients at or below 500 percent of the federal poverty level, the company will offer the drug for free. In an e-mail to The New York Times, Tim Horn, HIV project director for the AIDS research and policy organization Treatment Action Group, said: “This is, as the saying goes, nothing more than lipstick on a pig.”

Where is ACT-UP? The fact that his company is not under 24 hour protest saddens me greatly.

They sure don’t make activist like they used to.

Shrekeli’s company, Turing Pharmaceuticals is currently under investigation by the Federal government for price gouging.