Project Fire: AIDS, Erasure, and Black Queer Organizing in Newark, by Jason Chernesky

Jason Chernesky focuses on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s in Chapter 5, “Project Fire: AIDS, Erasure, and Black Queer Organizing in Newark.” He demonstrates that queer Newarkers were left out of media narratives and public health initiatives because the majority of people with AIDS in the city were intravenous drug users. Then he shows how Black gay men resisted their erasure by creating Project Fire, a safer-sex program that brought information directly into communities. The papers of James Credle, a Newark HIV/AIDS activist, provide the foundation for his chapter.


One key document, “About PACT [People of All Colors Together] and Project ‘Fire,’” describes the goals of both organizations and the inspiration of radical queer activists from the Harlem Renaissance. It provides background information for Chernesky, whose chapter details three main outreach efforts.


Chernesky writes at length about Project Fire's duffle bag, which was carried by volunteers and used in safer-sex programs for queer men and women during the 1990s. A handwritten document lists the contents of the bag, which Chernesky uses to explore the project’s public health efforts.