1987 March 10

ACT UP, HIV/AIDS Advocacy Group, Founded


ACT UP is the acronym for AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power. ACT UP was inspired by playwright Larry Kramer, who had earlier founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center in New York City on January 4, 1982, but split with the group because he felt it was not militant enough. ACT UP was modeled after the Civil Rights Movement, and engaged in nonviolent direct action, often including dramatic acts of civil disobedience to bring public awareness to the AIDS crisis. It held its first demonstration in New York City two weeks after its founding, on March 24, 1987.

See the opening of Larry Kramer’s semi-autobiographical play on the AIDS crisis, The Normal Heart, on April 21, 1985.

The first lesbian and gay rights movement in the world originated in Berlin, Germany, in the 1860s. This included the invention of the word “homosexuality.” Read Robert Beachy, Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity (2014).

Don’t miss: David France, How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of  How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS (1916)

See AIDS activist Larry Kramer on the Founding of ACT UP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ett_Rz_eNqA

Go to the ACT UP web site: http://www.actupny.org/

Learn more at the ACT Up Oral History Project: http://www.actuporalhistory.org/index1.html

Read: Lawrence Mass, We Must Love One Another or Die: The Life and Legacies of Larry Kramer (1997)

Read about the early AIDS crisis: Randy Shilts, And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (1987)

Learn more at a  timeline on HIV/AIDS: http://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/aids-timeline/

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