Tag Archives: GMHC

Gay History – May 18, 1981: Dr. Lawrence Mass Becomes The First Person To Report About AIDS

Many believe that the New York Times article of July 3, 1981 was the date of the first newspaper published report about the deadly disease which would later be called AIDS by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Actually the first published report that mention the mysterious and deadly disease appeared in  New York City’s own independent gay newspaper The New York Native three weeks earlier by Dr, Lawrence Mass.

Mass, who wrote a regular health column for the small weekly had heard rumors of a new disease striking down gay men in New York City. Some were coming down with a rare kind of a skin cancer that had previously only affected the elderly living in the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, and Middle Eastern regions called Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Others victims were stricken with a rare form of pneumonia which typically only appeared in people with severely suppressed immune systems such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and transplant recipients. There were also a host of other odd diseases that gay men were coming down with, but so far nobody had figured out that there might be a single cause to link them all together.

Later Dr, Mass was assured by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta that there was no evidence of an emerging “gay cancer,” Mass wrote an article titled, “Disease Rumors Largely Unfounded,” which began:

Last week there were rumors that an exotic new disease had hit the gay community in New York. Here are the facts. From the New York City Department of Health, Dr. Steve Phillips explained that the rumors are for the most part unfounded. Each year, approximately 12 to 24 cases of infection with a protozoa-like organism, pneumocystis carinii, are reported in the New York City area. The organism is not exotic; in fact, it’s ubiquitous. But most of us have a natural or easily acquired immunity.

“What’s unusual about the cases reported this year, is that eleven of them were not obviously compromised hosts. The possibility there exists that a new, more virulent strain of the organism may have been ‘community acquired.’” But Mass reported that there was not enough evidence (yet) to make a clear connection between the new disease and the gay community

But the CDC was wrong and it wouldn’t be long before they realized that and  a link was made.  

Mass followed up on his original article in July 1981 with a piece called, “Cancer in the Gay Community,” on the then-new HIV/AIDS epidemic. Chroniclers of the AIDS crisis now recognize Dr. Lawrence Mass as being the first to write about the emerging epidemic in print.

In 1982, Mass joined Larry KramerEdmund WhitePaul Rapoport, Paul Popham and Nathan Fain in co-founding Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), the world’s first and still largest AIDS information and service organization. For 10 years, through four revisions, Mass authored GMHC’s guide, Medical Answers About AIDS, which usually concluded with an appeal for civil liberties for sexual minority persons and the sanctioning of same sex relationships as “essential considerations in the preventive medicine of AIDS.

Beginning in the late 1990’s, Mass extended his public health interests to the bear subculture of the gay community. He has addressed in a regular column a range of health topics of interest to this subculture, initially consisting of middle-aged overweight men, first for American Bear Magazine and later for A Bear’s Life magazine.

Dr. Lawrence Mass still works as a internist physician in New York City, where he resides with his life partner, writer and activist Arnie Kantrowitz.

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 History – October 28: Republican Senator Jesse Helms “Homosexuals and lesbians [are] disgusting” and more.

Jesse Helms

 

1903:  British writer Evelyn Waugh is born in London. His best-known works include his early satires Decline and Fall (1928) and A Handful of Dust (1934), and of course his novel Brideshead Revisited (1945).

1970:  Kate Millet, American feminist writer, artist and activist comes out of the closet. Millet became a seminal influence on second-wave feminism and is best known for her 1970 book Sexual Politics.

1990: The late Senator Jesse Helms infamously declared in a campaign speech that “homosexuals and lesbians [are] disgusting people marching in our streets demanding all sorts of things, including the right to marry each other.” Helms was disgusted by gays and lesbians, who he called  “weak, morally sick wretches” (1994), and accused them of engaging in “incredibly offensive and revolting conduct” 

For nearly two decades, he fought tooth and nail against expanded federal funding for AIDS research, and exploited gays and lesbians as convenient scapegoats in his constant fear-mongering crusade.  In 1987 Helms said, “Somewhere along the line we’re going to have to quarantine people with AIDS.” Helms’ uncaring and disgusting response to the disease was explained by his tirade the next year against the bipartisan Kennedy-Hatch AIDS bill, when he claimed, “There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy.” Of course which was a lie.

Helms died of vascular dementia during the early morning hours of July 4, 2008, at the age of 86.  Mitch McConnell of Kentucky eulogized Helms as one of the “kindest men” in Congress, and said, “no matter who you were, he always had a thoughtful word and a gentle smile.”

Jesse Helms is currently burning in HELL alongside Jerry Falwell and his good friend Ronald Reagan. They are waiting on FRC’s  Tony Perkins to check-in and join them so they have a fourth for Canasta.

1990: A high-end event at Carnegie Hall raised $1.5 million for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. It was reportedly a “three-hour international parade of singers and musicians [and] a demonstration that AIDS is a disease to be feared and resisted not just by several enclaves but by people of every sex, nationality and sexual persuasion.”

1992:  Episcopal Bishop A. Theodore Eastman issued an order to clergy in Maryland not to bless same-sex unions.

1997: The National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum condemned gospel singers Angie and Debbie Winans for their anti-gay song “It’s Not Natural” and BET-TV for providing them with a one-sided forum to promote their homophobic views.

2009: The first openly gay member of the German government, Guido Westerwelle, took office as Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister to Angela Merkel. – Kiss me Guido!

Once Again Safety Pins Bring Support and Comfort To The Gay, LBT, and Marginalized Communities

After 30 years safety pins once again are providing support and a safety net for groups left feeling vulnerable in Donald Trump’s America.

In 1986 at the height of the AIDS epidemic the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a non- profit AIDS education in New York City, chose the safety pin as a symbol for safe sex support and education  ‘The idea was: safety pins, safe sex,’. Wearing the pins was just another way to promote the idea that safe sexual practices help slow the spread of AIDS.

Fast forward 30 years and the safety pin is back this time symbolizing support to the LGBT community and other maginalized groups amid mounting reports of racial, LGBT, and sexual harassment spurred on by Donald Trump’s election,

“To my fellow Americans, I will be your #safespace #LoveTrumpsHate if you see me with my #safetypin on, know I am an ally. Come talk to me,” tweeted @ErinFearns.

Some Muslim women in hijabs have reported harassment and intimidation following the presidential election. Numerous reports of gay bashings and anti-lgbt harassment  have also been reported .

On Friday, the hashtag #safetypin trended on Twitter, as dozens of people shared selfies with safety pins attached to their clothing.

“Standing together we will be safe,” one user tweeted.

“My #SafetyPin shows I will protect those who feel in danger bc of gender, sexuality, race, disability, religion, etc.,” another said. “You are safe with me.”

Even Star Trek captain Patrick Stewart has beamed aboard.

And while some may think that s a safety pin will do nothing to help in our current situation a symbol is a powerful thing that can bring millions of people together for a cause.

Remember these?

Gay Blood Ban Art Installation Near Chelsea Market In NYC Proves Powerful Point

Gay Blood Ban Art At Chelsea Market

 

Two dumpsters filled with fake blood bags has been set up near the Chelsea Market to raise awareness on the FDA’s outdated and stigmatizing gay blood ban against gay men.

“Gay men are still discriminated against, they’re not allowed to donate blood,” said Mike Devlin, Creative Director at FCB Health.

Devlin and FCB Health created this art installation in partnership with The Gay Men’s Health Crisis to raise awareness about the thousands of pints of blood he says are lost every year due to the gay blood ban.

For decades, the Food and Drug Administration prohibited men who have sex with other men from donating blood.

Last year health officials eased the ban — now gay men have to remain celibate for a full year before donating

“As the universal donor I’m O negative. I feel like my blood could have a lot of use, it’s a civil injustice to a large population that we’re unable to donate our blood,” said one man.

The donation issue made headlines again after the Orlando nightclub shooting — when dozens of gay friends of victims wanted to donate blood — but discovered they couldn’t.

And while the FDA said in the wake of the shooting that they “empathize” with those who want to donate, they said the scientific evidence was not available to support an alternative to the current deferral policy.

“Every pint of blood that gets donated is actually screened, everyone. Mine yours anyone who donates, so the fact that gay men are still barred from actually participating in something that is very much a human thing —to donate blood to friends and family — it doesn’t make sense,” added Mike Devlin.

Organizers behind this blood project hope this Installation creates an image for the public to see just how much blood is potentially lost.

“It’s a waste of a very important source I think, we could use much better, I don’t think there’s a reason to ban it,” said Yoev, another passerby.

Officials from the Gay Men’s Health Crisis say they’re continuing to push the FDA to accelerate their review of the ban so that everyone’s blood will be treated fairly.

Other countries without the ban have perfectly safe blood supplies. Italy, for example, replaced a similar ban fifteen years ago with an approach based on sexual practices. This “individual risk assessment” approach did not harm blood safety. In 2015 Argentina lifted its ban on blood donation from gay and bisexual men. Health Minister Daniel Gollán declared that the change is “scientifically and technically accurate” and based on a medical approach that replaces that old concept of ‘risk groups.’

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

READ: Larry Kramer’s FULL Speech “CURE” Given at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis – March 23, 2015

Larry Kramer

 

THIRTY-FOUR YEARS. HIV/AIDS has been our plague for 34 years. We should have known more about this plague by now. 34 years is a very long time to let people die.

I think more and more about evil. I believe in evil. I believe evil is an act, intentional or not, of inflicting undeserved harm on others. Genocide is such an act. I believe genocide is being inflicted upon gay people.

Genocide is the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or ethnic group. Such as gay people. Such as people of color. To date, around the world, an estimated 78 million people have become infected, 39 million of whom have died. When we first became acquainted with HIV there were 41 cases.

The main difference between the Larry Kramer who helped to start Gay Men’s Health Crisis in his living room in 1982 and ACT UP in 1987 and the Larry Kramer who stands before you now is that I no longer have any doubt that our government is content, via sins of omission or commission, to allow the extermination of my homosexual population to continue unabated.

It is talk like this that got the original GMHC board to boot me off and out.

It is also talk like this that enabled ACT UP to succeed in getting us our own treatments. These treatments are not good enough but have been good enough to extend our lives. Unfortunately they still come with side effects and they reward their greedy manufacturers with more money than they would make locating the cure that would end this plague.

GMHC was my first child and its rejection was very painful. The original ACT UP self-destructed, which was also a painful experience. Once there were treatments, the desire to act up managed to evaporate rather quickly. This greatest achievement ever facilitated by the gay population—we actually went out there and got our own medicines — then decamped, now that we had a drug that would allow us to do what we did and live the lives that got us in trouble in the first place. The remnants of ACT UP, my second child, is a painful place for me to see now.

Thirty-four years is a long time for pharmaceutical manufacturers to operate in such an evil system.

Thirty-four years is a long time for every President and every Congress to sit back and let us die.

Thirty-four years is a long time for Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is in charge of AIDS research, to watch his and our President and his and our Congress and their National Institutes of Health let us die.

Allowing people to die is evil and genocidal.

We should have had more in 35 years.

These are not what most people would call bad people. But these heterosexuals are not people who are losing any sleep over the death of so many millions of people.

I no longer hear the word “cure” from the remnants of ACT UP or it’s spin-off Treatment Action Group, TAG, or from anyone in our health care establishment starting with Dr. Fauci. I certainly don’t hear it from anyone in Congress or the White House. Dr. Robert Gallo said a few weeks ago that AIDS will kill far more people than Ebola ever will.

Thus what an irony to be asked back into the arms of my first child, GMHC. Just when a new executive director, Kelsey Louie, who feels and says much the same as I did and do, has taken over.

Kelsey said to me, “It has become clear to me that GMHC has every reason to be more aggressive on all fronts—especially in our public remarks.” Oh, it’s a new world at GMHC, one that I tried to start, and Kelsey Louie is very smart and caring and courageous and I congratulate the board for choosing him to be your new leader. “Many are saying that they are happy to see life back in GMHC,” board chair Roberta Kaplan, our great lesbian lawyer who secured a major marriage victory from the Supreme Court, said when she asked me to come back and I accepted.

Kelsey said the words that won over my acceptance. “We must aspire to a cure once and for all. Let’s demand a cure and a society that values people with HIV enough to pay for it. Only if we aspire to more can we demand more. Only if we demand more will we get more.”

My first child sounds like a chip off the old block. I salute him and all of you for being here to join me in supporting Kelsey and his and our new GMHC. The power to change history is still within our grasp. We cannot wait another 34 years. This evil still being waged against us must cease. The battle cry now must be one word: CURE. CURE. CURE.

Allowing people to die is evil and genocidal.

Yes, I believe in evil.

78 million people have become infected, 39 million have died.

I no longer hear the word “cure” from anyone.

It is time to hear it from everyone. Led by GMHC. We demand a cure!

 

Today In Gay History October 14: National March on Washington, GMHC, and Anita Bryant Gets Pied

National March on Washington 1979

1930: 21-year-old Ethel Merman makes a name for herself after belting out I’ve Got Rhythm in the Broadway musical Girl Crazy.

1977: In one of the most iconic visual moments in LGBT history “Christian” anti-gay bigot Anita Bryant gets a pie thrown in her face.

After leading a successful, hate fueled campaign to revoke Miami’s anti-discrimination ordinance earlier that summer ex-beauty queen, singer, Florida orange juice shill and anti-gay activist Anita Bryant and her husband, Bob Green, took their show on the road to repeal other local anti-discrimination ordinances in St. Paul, MN.

Bryant said:

“What these people really want, hidden behind obscure legal phrases, is the legal right to propose to our children that theirs is an acceptable alternate way of life. I will lead such a crusade to stop it as this country has not seen before.  As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children” and “If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters. All America and all the world will hear what the people have said, and with God’s continued help we will prevail in our fight to repeal similar laws throughout the nation.

Thom Higgins of Minneapolis wasn’t going to stand for it and caught up with Bryant and her husband at a press conference in Des Moines. Iowa.  It was about at that point, with television cameras rolling, Higgins threw a pie directly into her face. Stunned at first, Bryant tried to make light of it by saying “At least it was a fruit pie.” At Green’s suggestion, Bryant began praying for God to forgive the activist’s “deviant lifestyle” before bursting into tears. Green urged that no one retaliate against Higgins, but later in the parking lot Green caught up with the protesters and threw a reserve banana cream pie at them.

After the “pieing incident” the Florida orange juice had become more prominent and it was supported by many celebrities including Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Paul Williams, John Waters, Carroll O’Connor, Mary Tyler Moore and Jane Fonda.

The fallout from the gay community and it’s supporters ruined Bryant. Her contract with the Florida Citrus Commission was allowed to lapse in 1979 because of the controversy, her marriage to her first husband Bob Green failed , and in 1980 she divorced him, citing emotional abusiveness and latent suicidal thoughts. Even the fundamentalist audiences and venues shunned her after her divorce as she was no longer invited to appear at their events and she lost another major source of income. With her four children, Bryant moved from Miami to Selma, Alabama, and later to Atlanta, Georgia where she still lives today.

In June of 2010 smelling the money that the anti-gay groups of today make and pay Bryant returned to her roots and appeared at an anti-gay, anti atheist, and anti muslim event sponsored by “Reclaiming America For Christ”

Lifetime gay activist Thom Higgins passed away on November 10, 1994, in St. Paul, Minnesota a true gay hero of that era.

1979: The first National March on Washington for Gay & Lesbian Rights was held.  An estimated  125,000+ gay men, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people and straight allies to demand equal civil rights and urge the passage of protective civil rights legislation.  Speakers at  the main rally included Harry Britt, Charlotte Bunch, Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, Flo Kennedy, Morris Kight, Audre Lorde, Leonard Matlovich, andFirst PFLAG President Adele Starr.

The closing paragraph of the welcome program of the march, written by Allen Young (writer).

“Today in the capital of America, we are all here, the almost liberated and the slightly repressed; the butch, the femme and everything in-between; the androgynous; the monogamous and the promiscuous; the masturbators and the fellators and the tribadists; men in dresses and women in neckties; those who bite and those who cuddle; celebates[sic] and pederasts; diesel dykes and nelly queens; amazons and size queens, Yellow, Black, Brown, White, and Red; the shorthaired and the long, the fat and the thin; the nude and the prude; the beauties and the beasts; the studs and the duds; the communes, the couples, and the singles; pubescents and the octogenarians. Yes, we are all here! We are everywhere! Welcome to the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights!”

1987:  The US Congress voted in favor of banning federal funding for AIDS education organizations that “promote homosexuality.”  Under the Reagan administration (No shock there). The U.S. Senate voted 94-2 on an an amendment proposed by Sen. Jesse Helms to restrict federal funds for AIDS education to materials stressing sexual abstinence and which did not “promote homosexuality.” Citing comic books produced by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York — material that had not been paid for by federal funds — Helms complained, “If the American people saw these books, they would be on the verge of revolt.” He claimed the books showed “graphic detail of a sexual encounter between two homosexual men. The comic books do not encourage a change in that perverted behavior. In fact, the comic books promote sodomy.” 

1990: Leonard Bernstein dies at the age of 72.

1996:  Madonna gives birth to her first child, Lourdes Ciccone Leon.  The father, Carlos Leon, a personal trainer, is eight years younger than Madonna.

1999: California state Senator Pete Knight, who sponsored a ballot initiative banning same sex marriages in California, is denounced in the Los Angeles Times by his gay son. He questioned his father’s defense of family values because his father rejected him when he came out.

2006: Gerry Studds , dies in Boston, at age 69, several days after suffering a pulmonary embolism. Studds was the first openly gay member of Congress.  Studds was re-elected to the House more than 8 times and fought for many issues, including environmental and maritime issues, same-sex marriageAIDS funding, and civil rights, particularly for gays and lesbians.

Although Gerry Studds and partner Dean T. Hara (his companion since 1991) were married in Boston on May 24, 2004, one week after same-sex marriages became legal in Massachusetts. ue to the federal ban on same-sex marriage, Hara was not eligible, upon Studds’ death, to receive the pension provided to surviving spouses of former members of Congress. Hara later joined a federal lawsuit, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, that successfully challenged the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Learn Your LGBT History! – An Abridged Timeline of Greenwich Village Gay History, 1971-2000

The Ramrod NYC – Circa 1978

1971    The first act of Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy is set during this year at Village gay bar The International Stud  (733 Greenwich St. at Perry St.).

1972    The Gay Switchboard is launched at the newly opened Liberation House  (247   11th St., between 4th St. and Waverly Pl.) and begins logging 400 calls a week.  It is still operational today and is known as the Gay & Lesbian Switchboard of New York .

1973    Ex-nun and future LGBT leader Jean O’Leary makes her public debut on the Washington Square Park stage of the annual Gay Pride rally and declares transvestite entertainment insulting to women; the bedlam that ensues between girl homos and boy homos can only be placated by Bette Midler‘s rousing rendition of “Friends.” Later in life O’Leary co-founded National Coming Out Day with Rob Eichberg in 1987.  Jean O’Leary passed away in 2005 of lung cancer/

1980    Popular late ’70s/early ’80s infamous lesbian hangout Duchess (101 Seventh Ave. South at Grove St.) begins coming under attack from state liquor license inspectors, reportedly refused service after they charmed the bartender with refrains of “Come on girlie, give us a drink.”  The Duchess is now closed

1980    Former city transit cop Ronald Crumpley goes on a shooting rampage with an Uzi in the Village, killing two and wounding six in front of popular Ramrod leather bar. (394 West St., between 10th and Christopher Sts.). “I want to kill them all,” he explains afterward. “They’re no good. They ruin everything.” He is found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity and institutionalized where he remains today.  The Ramrod never recovers from the incident and closes shortly afterwards.

1981    Eighty men meet at writer Larry Kramer’s Washington   Square North apartment to address the “rare cancer seen in 41 homosexuals” (as reported by the New York Times) and to raise research funds; the gathering would lay the foundation for the Gay Men’s Health CrisisThe GMHC today is the world’s leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy

1983    The Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center is founded, and purchases the building (208 W. 13th St., between Seventh and Greenwich Aves.) that’s still its home (now as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, or as most just know it, The Center).

1985    The Harvey Milk School opens with 20 gay teenage students at the Washington Square  United Methodist  Church (135 W. 4th St., between MacDougal St. and Sixth Ave.).

1992    George Segal’s controversial statue “Gay Liberation” is installed in Christopher Street Park across from the Stonewall Inn.

George Segal’s “Gay Liberation”