Queer and Post-Queer AIDS Activism

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We’re Here! We’re Queer!

As the Queer Revolution of the 90’s got underway, the face of AIDS activism began a major thematic shift. As people settled in for the long haul towards the development of a vaccine for HIV (a newspaper article in 1984 predicted a “cure in two to three years”; by 1988 the prediction was ten, and increasing) it became clearer and clearer that it would take research symposiums and massive amounts of lab hours to fabricate a solution to the crisis. This shift took the form of a move from consciousness-raising panels and speakers to fund-raising drag shows and consciousness-raising spectacles.

Performance and AIDS Activism

On February 4th, 1991, Bullwinkle’s, a local gay bar, hosted a drag show/auction fund raiser to benefit the Bloomington AIDS Task Force. The coverage criticized past events for “aimlessly preaching about AIDS”. A March 26th, 1997 an Indiana Daily Student front-page article discussed the campus presence of HAVOC, the HIV/AIDS Volunteer Outreach Coalition. A student officer with the title “Special Events Diva” spoke of explosive ways to disseminate information, including demonstrating the way that oil-based lubricants erode latex condoms by smearing a blown-up condom in chocolate sauce and watching it pop, splattering observers with syrup. A few days later, on April 3rd, another newspaper article covered a concert benefit for Children AIDS Network National, billed as the “CANN Music Festival”. Local funk and “post-post-grunge” bands played to raise money and awareness about the negative impacts AIDS has on children.

Institutional Efforts

In 1994, Indiana University joined with the University of Colorado and the University of Kentucky to found the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention in part to specifically address the needs of seropositive individuals in rural areas—such as the ones found in southern Indiana. RCAP is headquartered at Indiana University’s Bloomington Campus; in 2003, the IU campus hosted RCAP’s third annual National Conference for HIV and STD Prevention in Rural Communities, from April 4th to 6th.

Post-Queer Activism

In even more recent years, the out-and-visibly-queer trend of ‘90s AIDS activism has continued. In 2006, the IU Sexual Health Behavior Center sponsored the first Bloomington “Latexhibition”, a consciousness-raising event held on World AIDS Day, December 1st. The event included a “latex fashion show”, featuring clothing made entirely out of condoms. In 2007, Bloomington area resident Vicci Laine began working locally to promote various AIDS service organizations. Laine, a trans woman, does work organizing drag shows primarily to benefit organizations focusing on providing services to local seropositive individuals.

Maxwell, Tonya, “HAVOC Brings HIV/AIDS Education to Campus,” Indiana Daily Student, March 26th, 1997, front page.

Shapiro, Daniel M. 1991. Bullwinkle’s AIDS benefit to feature goods auction. Indiana Daily Student, February 4, Arts/Lifestyles section

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