The friendship between straight women and gay men has been the subject of some ridicule for many years. But when the AIDS epidemic began, that relationship took on an urgency never imagined. Currently, the history of the epidemic is overwhelmingly a reflection of the experiences of white gay men. Some consideration has been given to gay men of color and lesbians. But this will be the first time straight women have been recognized for their contributions. Think of it as Hidden Figures for the AIDS epidemic.
I was - and continue to be - one of them. But although my involvement begin in the late 1980s as a fundraiser in Chicago, I did not begin to share my story until asked to contribute to Windy City Times' "AIDS@30" series in 2011. I wrote a book in 2013, Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friends. But in April, 2014, a panel discussion on "The Women of ACT UP", part of the New York Public Library's "AIDS and Activism" series sparked the idea for this book.
Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community considers the pathways to that involvement. Many straight women had existing relationships with gay men. They were their sons, brothers, fathers, husbands. They were their designers, stylists, decorators, patients, coworkers and neighbors. For some women in the medical field, they challenges of the disease drew them in. And of course, straight women themselves became infected with HIV.
Their involvement took different forms: advocacy, direct care, research, fundraisng, support services. And for many of them, that involvement came with a heavy price. Their commitment was criticized by those within the AIDS community as well as those outside. They bridged two worlds, especially in the early days of the epidemic.
This campaign supports the costs of completing this book. Expenses covered will incude transcribing and recording software, travel, books and printing costs (not all facilities allow you to make your own copies). In addition, expenses for the fall of 2017 will include editing, formatting and marketing in advance of a March, 2018 publication.
It's time for straight women to come out of the closet. Help make history with your support of this ground-breaking look at the accomplishments of women around the world.