aids coalition to unleash power

Act Up in Anger
David Handelman, Rolling Stone, Issue 573, 8 March 1990

A controversial group has become the catalyst for innovations in the way we fight AIDS

It was September 14th, 1989; more Americans had already died of AIDS-related causes than the 58,000 that had died in Vietnam. And, sneaking into the New York Stock Exchange, wearing suits and fake trader ID badges, carrying chains, handcuffs and foghorns, Peter Staley and six colleagues from ACT UP — the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power — were fighting a war too.…  More >

Script from a text installation by the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP), displayed in the New Museum of Contemporary Art as part of “Let the Record Show…”, 1987.

Marsha “Pay it no Mind” Johnson

Johnson was a trans woman and an important member of the LGBTQ+ community in New York City for many years. She was one of the city’s most famous drag queens and street queens, and also one of the first to fight back in the Stonewall riots. During the AIDS epidemic, she joined with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power to protest the expensive price of AIDS drugs. Johnson co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to provide food & clothing to drag queens, trans women & street kids. Marsha was a dedicated activist and LGBT+ pioneer who deserves to be celebrated and honored.

Peter Staley | ACT UP 

Peter Staley eagerly joined and helped lead the fiercest battle the gay community has ever fought, fighting for access to more and better drugs, fighting for society to pay attention to the thousands, and eventually millions, dying of AIDS.  Yet, even at the height of that battle he was focused on what would happen after the war.  Peter was a romantic; his approach to activism, once he was strong enough to leave ACT UP, was to take the opposition on a date, to win them over with his earnest smile, to speak in poetry and bring his audience to its feet.”

-Randy Potts
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AIDS is not over: The Resurrection March of ACT UP on Good Friday
March from the Mission to the Castro

To mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of ACT UP (the AIDS
Coalition to Unleash Power) and commemorate the lives of almost 20,000 San Franciscans who have died since the epidemic began, people with HIV/AIDS and the AIDS activist community will gather on Friday, April 6– Good Friday, for a march from the Mission to the Castro.

The march will link the issues of gentrification and lack of
affordable housing faced by people with HIV/AIDS and our communitiesvtoday by starting at Wells Fargo, a major profiteer of the housing crisis. The march will continue to the steps of Mission Dolores Church, marking Good Friday and protesting the Catholic Church’s continued role of condemning people to die of AIDS globally and repression of sexual freedom and health here at home– by blocking access to condoms, and restricting access to reproductive health and abortion. Ashes of those who died during the epidemic in SF will be placed on the steps of Dolores Church.

“San Franciscans died of AIDS. 20,000 of us. Almost 16,000 of us are living with HIV today. ACT UP was founded to take on the powers of economic violence and sexual repression that interfere to this very day in efforts to save lives,” said X of ACT UP, “Wells Fargo has made billions which people with HIV/AIDS struggle to survive and stay in this city. Its 25 years since we started ACT UP and the Catholic Church is still to blame. This Good Friday we will mourn our dead and fight like hell for the living here in San Francisco and around the world.”

The 25th anniversary of ACT UP is commemorated by today’s activists and the Occupy movement. ACT UP was known for a confrontational and effective style of direct action that has been widely influential to organizer in today’s movements– Occupy SF and Occupy Oakland. Wells Fargo is at the center of protest for affordable housing and an end to private prison profiteering– issues of major importance to people with AIDS and the
queer community.

The march will end at Harvey Milk Plaza in a commemoration of ACT UP and the many lives lost to HIV/AIDS, featuring a reading of the names of activists in our community who died during the epidemic in the Bay Area. All are welcome to attend.

Start of March: Gather at 4pm 
Wells Fargo at 16th and Mission, 4:30 PM
Ashes action at SF Archdiocese/Mission Dolores Church: 5:30 PM
Memorial and Commemoration of ACT UP at Harvey Milk Plaza: 6:30 PM