This Week In LGBT History: March 27 – April 2nd…..Barney Frank, Tennesee Williams, AIDS and Paitent Zero

MARCH 28, 1988 – In Washington DC, Georgetown University losses an eight year legal battle to avoid providing facilities and financial support to gay organizations on campus. – Moral Conflict and Liberties (page 109-110)

MARCH 30, 1984 – Gaetan Dugas, a French-Canadian flight attendant, Dugas became notorious as the alleged patient zero for AIDS.  A study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 1984 traced many of New York City’s early HIV infections to an unnamed infected homosexual male flight attendant. Epidemiologists hypothesized that Dugas had carried the virus out of Africa and introduced it into the Western gay community.

Dugas was featured prominently in Randy Shilts’s book And the Band Played On, which documented the outbreak of AIDS in the United States. Shilts portrayed Gaëtan Dugas as having almost sociopathic behavior, by allegedly intentionally infecting, or at least recklessly endangering, others with the virus. Dugas was described as being a charming, handsome sexual athlete, who, according to his own estimation, averaged hundreds of sex partners a year. He claimed to have had over 2,500 sexual partners across North America since becoming sexually active in 1972.

 As a flight attendant Dugas was able to travel the globe, at little cost, to such early HIV epicenters as London and Paris in Europe and Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco in the U.S. Being diagnosed with Kaposi’s Sarcoma in June 1980, and after being warned that this could be caused and spread by a sexually transmitted virus, Dugas refused to stop having unprotected sex, claiming that he could do what he wanted with his body. He allegedly informed some of his sex partners, just after having sex, that he had the “gay cancer” and perhaps they would get it too.

As Dugas was found to be the center of a network of sexual partners, he was dubbed “Patient 0” Dugas died in Quebec City on March 30, 1984 as a result of kidney failure caused by continual AIDS-related infections

* A number of authorities  have since voiced reservations about the implications of the CDC Patient Zero study.  A more recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on November 1, 2007 dismisses the Patient Zero hypothesis and claims that AIDS transited from Africa to Haiti in 1966 and from Haiti to the United States in 1969.

MARCH 31, 1935 Actor Richard Chamberlain who was closeted until his career was over finally comes out born on this day

MARCH 31, 1940 – Openly gay and blustery Barney Frank Massachusetts Congressman born

APRIL 1, 2008 – First classes held at Harvey Milk School in NYC, the first city-funded high school for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in U.S.

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