Karen Ocamb

Rachel Maddow Commemorates 25th Anniversary of ACT UP!

Filed By Karen Ocamb | April 30, 2012 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Media
Tags: ACT UP, ACT UP/LA, Ann Northrup, Larry Kramer, Rachel Maddow


ACT UP/LA protest outside the Century Plaza Hotel where President George HW Bush was holding a fundraiser (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

As part of my AIDS at 30 series last year, I posted the March 1983 article by Larry Kramer in the New York Native entitled "1,112 and Counting." Kramer's opening lines are: "If this article doesn't scare the shit out of you, we're in real trouble. If this article doesn't rouse you to anger, fury, rage, and action, gay men may have no future on this earth. Our continued existence depends on just how angry you can get." It took five more years - and a President who refused to say the word "AIDS" or address the thousands of mostly gay men who'd died by then - before Kramer founded ACT UP on March 7, 1987. The world came to know ACT UP when they took over Wall Street on April 25 that year, which they did again last Wednesday. My piece on gay journalism includes several actions by ACT UP/LA.

Below are two videos with contrast in presentations: Scotty100USA's YouTube video of ACT UP, a documentary in progress, captures the transformation from perceived "limp-wristed pansies" to direct action militants who weren't going to be "victims" anymore. And Rachael Maddow, who was once involved in ACT UP for a "defining period" of her life, explains ACT UP to her mainstream audience. BTW - both videos include ACT UP's interrupting the live broadcast of the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather - but fails to give kudos to former CBS News producer and ACT UP leader Ann Northrop for making that happen. (Full disclosure: I clerked on Rather's weekend shows before he took over Cronkite's job and I was promoted. I also knew of Ann when she was a Morning News producer.)

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