Another Gay Museum planned

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Tim and Mitchell Gold | John McDonnell/Washington Post | 14306

Former Smithsonian researcher Tim Gold and his husband Mitchell (pictured) are raising money and collecting artifacts to open a national history museum to tell the stories of LGBT Americans at a time when gay rights were frequently a matter of political and cultural debate.

Although the project is years away from having a door to open, it has attracted the support of the Arcus Foundation, which promotes LGBT equality, and individual donors. Contributors provided $300,000 to get the campaign started, and Tim Gold needs $50 million to $100 million to open and operate the museum.

Its 40-page strategic plan, titled “Here I Am,” explores stories of gay men and lesbians and their searches for identity, among them lesbian performers at Harlem blues clubs in the 1920s, young demonstrators from the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, and John Fryer, a gay psychiatrist who advocated for homosexuality to be delisted as a mental illness in 1972.

With the backing of his wealthy husband, who co-founded the $100 million home furnishing company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Tim Gold has been travelling the country acquiring artifacts from gay rights activists and their families, often explaining his project in their living rooms, then following them to pick through boxes in their attics.

There are protest signs from demonstrations nationwide. There is a filmstrip of a 1970 gay pride parade in New York, which Gold serendipitously found buried in a case of gay porn contributed by the Museum of Sex. (“You can’t know what future generations are going to want to watch,” he said.)

There is the violin and music stand owned by Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman who committed suicide in 2010 after a video of him kissing another man was posted on the Internet.

In all, Gold has 5,000 items stored in a climate-controlled warehouse in Forestville, Maryland.


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National Aids Manual

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Uncredited photographer/Aidsmap | 14307

The National Aids Manual was founded in 1987 by Peter Scott, of the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard. The initial onset of the pandemic caused confusion and panic, with irrational reactions to the disease. There was a need for a calm and factual source of reliable information about the condition both for those affected by it or treating it, and for the general public, so that things could calm down. The Manual quickly became the UK’s primary source of HIV information.

At first the ‘Manual’ was a huge ring binder containing all the available information on HIV and AIDS and treatments.

There is now a web based information and news service.


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Act Up

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NIH | 14308

Act Up (Aids Coalition to Unleash Power) began in 1987 in New York. Larry Kramer addressed a meeting there and urged more action on fighting AIDS. Kramer criticised the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, which he regarded as politically impotent. (Kramer had co-founded the GMHC but had resigned from its board of directors in 1983.) He asked the audience: “Do we want to start a new organization devoted to political action?” The answer was “a resounding yes.” Approximately 300 people met two days later to form ACT UP.

Act Up was deliberately organised on leaderless and almost anarchic lines as a committee-structured network of activists. Non-violent direct action, often using vocal demonstrations and dramatic acts of civil disobedience, were used to focus attention on the crucial issues of the AIDS crisis.

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San Francisco activists David Stern, Camo, who only went by one name at the time, and Michael Ryan participate in the successful shut down of the national Food and Drug Administration headquarters on October 11, 1988 in Rockville, Maryland. Stern and Ryan have since died | Rick Gerharter/Bay Area Reporter | 14309

A number of events and pickets were held, the most famous being on October 11, 1988 when it successfully shut down the Food & Drug Administration for a day, in which might have been the largest such demonstration since the Vietnam War.

Act Up is still operational.


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