Huffington Post Gay Voices — 6/21/2013

"ACT UP Members Reunite, Without the Anger -- At Least for No," by Kathleen Kiley

Twenty-five years ago, when ACT UP began fighting for better health care and drugs to halt the virus decimating the gay community, I was studying journalism at New York University. It was the late 1980s, and Randy Shilts' book And the Band Played On had just been published. I read his investigative narrative on the people and politics of the AIDS epidemic while ACT UP was fighting steps away from my classroom.

I was naïve about it all. But as I was learning from Shilts, ACT UP changed the course of the AIDS epidemic through anger, fearlessness, relentlessness, and a comprehensive understanding of the drug discovery process. Many of those youthful warriors felt they had nothing to lose because they didn't expect to reach the age of 40 -- or even 30, says Jay Blotcher, ACT UP's media coordinator for nearly a year during the peak of the group's power, from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. In fact, many did not.

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