Unformatted text preview: Epstein/ AIDS Activism 415 By thetime theAIDS epidemicwas recognizedin 1981,the gay movement was thoroughlyengaged in projectsof identity politics that linked tangible a politicalgoals to the elaboration ndassertionof anaffirmative roupidentity g (Escoffier 1985). A threatto identity,therefore,was a threatthat the movementcould easily understand-andone againstwhichit was quickto mobilize. Negotiationwith the medicalprofessionwas not entirelyforeignto this movementbecausea specific componentof the gay liberation gendahad been the a of "demedicalization" gay identity(Bayer1981).Indeed,gay activistshadlong been inclinedto view medicalauthorities ith some suspicion.Furthermore, w w manylesbians(andheterosexual omen)who wouldbecomeactivein theAIDS movementwere schooledin the tenetsof the feministhealthmovementof the m t c o 1970s,whichalsoadvocatedkepticismoward edical laimsandinsisted n the s ( patient's ecision-makingutonomyCorea1992). d a The AIDS movement,in otherwords, was built on the foundationof the gay and lesbian movement and borrowedfrom its particularstrengthsand inclinations.It mattered hatgay communitieshadpre-existingorganizations t thatcould mobilize to meet a new threat,and it matteredthatthese communities contained (and in fact were dominatedby) white, middle-class men with a degree of political clout and fund-raisingcapacity unusual for an oppressedgroup. It was cruciallyimportant,as well, that gay communities possessed relatively high degrees of "cultural apital"-cultivated disposic tions for appropriating nowledge and culture(Bourdieu1990). These comk munitiescontainmanypeople who arethemselvesdoctors,scientists,educators,nurses,professionals,or intellectualsof othervarieties.Onthe one hand, thisculturalcapitalhas providedtheAIDS movementwithanunusual apacity c to contestthe mainstream xpertson theirown ground.On the otherhand,it e facilitates ediation ndcommunication etween"experts" nd"thepublic." m a b a AIDS Treatment Activism The U.S. AIDS movement encompasses a wide range of grassroots activists, lobbying groups,service providers,and community-based rganio t zations;represents he diverseinterestsof people of variousraces,ethnicities, a genders,sexual preferences,andHIV "riskbehaviors"; ndhas engagedin a variety of projects directed at numeroussocial institutions(Altman 1994; Corea 1992; Elbaz 1992; Emke 1993; Gamson 1989; Patton 1990; Quimby and Friedman 1989; Treichler 1991). Treatmentactivism, more narrowly defined, is the province of particularmovement organizations.It includes specific subcommittees of ACT UP-the AIDS Coalition to Unleash & Power-including the Treatment Data Committeeof ACT UP/New York ...
View Full Document
- Spring '10
- Homosexuality, LGBT social movements, thetime theAIDS epidemicwas, AIDS movement,in otherwords, -cultivated disposic tions