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PEOPLE POWER

“We didn’t know we’d be forming a chapter of ACT UP when a small group of us began meeting in Dublin last summer,” says Andrew Leavitt, as a new wave of HIV activism in Ireland is taking its inspiration from the erce examples set 30 years ago.

Born during the darkest and most hopeless days of the AIDS epidemic in the US, ACT UP – the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power – showed that a relatively small group of determined activists could change the course of an epidemic. Today, amidst record numbers of new HIV diagnoses here in Ireland, a new wave of HIV activism takes inspiration from the fierce example set 30 years ago.

Before ACT UP, the LGBT community’s response to the AIDS crisis in the US largely centred on providing desperately needed care and support. In March 1987, in a fiery speech at New York City’s Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, playwright Larry Kramer described a litany of government failures that were exacerbating the epidemic and its devastation, and he castigated the politically powerless AIDS service organisations.

After six years of rising deaths, government inaction, public hostility; six years of deepening anger and frustration, Kramer’s call for “a new organisation devoted to political action” found a community ready to act.

Days later, over 300 people returned to the community centre to create the first ACT UP – “a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis.” Within weeks they held their first demonstration: a ‘die-in’ on Wall Street protesting pharmaceutical companies’ greed and government inaction. 17 people were arrested after blocking traffic for several hours. From despair and darkness, ACT UP exploded into the world full of anger and defiance.

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About GCN

The brand new Dublin Pride issue of GCN features a stunning cover image by London-Irish writer and photographer, PP Hartnett, and an interview about interrogating the flip side of the gay community through his work. We also talk to maverick trans rapper, Mykki Blanco about his life post abandoning Trump’s America. Will Vladimir Putin go to war with Chechnya over the region's gay purge? We analyse the situation. Our editor goes to New York to attend a meeting of Gays Against Guns, one year on from the Pulse massacre in Orlando. We meet Irish HIV activists who are taking inspiration from the fierce examples set by ACT UP NYC at the peak of the AIDS crisis, and we talk to Joni Crone, the first ever lesbian to appear on The Late Late Show in 1980 for a legendary interview. And that’s just a flavour of what we’ve got in store for you this month!
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