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Climate Action Lessons from the 1980’s Act Up Movement

url3Today is World AIDS Day, and according to the official website today “is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.”

When I saw the documentary film, How to Survive a Plague, I was floored by the fierce and fearless activism relentlessly organized by the group Act-Up. I was of age during the early HIV/AIDS Crisis, living in NYC, but I retreated to the confines of gay conversion therapy in order seek a cure from being gay in a world that still had no cure for what was then known as G.R.I.D., the Gay Related Immune Deficiency (aka Gay Cancer or simply God’s Punishment Against Homosexuals.) I was aware of HIV/AIDS, and it terrified me. As a result, I did not/could not see the stunning activism happening all around me.

Earlier this year I interviewed Nancy Wilson, the moderator of the Metropolitan Community Church, and minister to LGBTQ people since the 1970’s. She was one of the many lesbians who fully engaged in the early HIV/AIDS Crisis. In hearing her speak about those desperate times when even funeral parlors would not take in people who died from HIV/AIDS, I am reminded of our times today when the panic is far more about refugees from the Middle East, Mexico, and Central America and recently about the Ebola outbreak in parts of Africa.

In this short and moving audio clip Nancy powerful relates what it was like in the early days of HIV/AIDS activism and service to the LGBTQ community and then makes connections with current issues connect to the Climate Crisis of our day. Please take a listen and share with your friends.

Featured Image: Keith Haring


Author: Peterson Toscano

Peterson Toscano is a quirky queer Quaker concerned about Climate Change. His website is

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