WNET NY Graphic
Title Slate: The Eleventh Hour #159, Gay Politics & Aids
Rec: 4/4/89. (audio from studio can be heard)
Funding for the show by Announcer and overlays the Eleventh Hour Graphic (barely seen)
Eleventh Hour graphic and show opener.
Host Robert Lipsyte welcomes viewers and introduces himself. he talks about today's topic, gay politics and aids, gay rights, activism around aids.
Host Lipsyte introduces and welcomes his guests in the studio: Richard Goldstein, Sr. Editor The village Voice; Rosemary Kurapack, Writer; Mark Harrington, ACT UP; Darryl Yates Rist, Author.
Host Lipsyte cuts away to a controversial TV version of an essay by Yates Rist.
Large crowd of AIDS activists and protestors, chanting, arms up in air
Protestors walking holding signs, some read: Aids Care is Healthcare, Housing now for homeless, 5,000 Homeless New Yorkers
More protestors and activists, gay men, holding up posters of Ronald Reagan, posters read Silence=Death
Pan large crowd of protestors on New York sidewalk, holding protest signs, behind police barricades. Darrel Yates Rist narrating
Man lying down on sidewalk, yells, "the people are dying, I'm willing to go to jail for this".
Darrell Yates Rist, Author and Gay Activist standing outside in front of the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, Inc. Door opens as he talks to unseen unknown interviewer about how the fear of death has turned the Gay community into opposing camps.
Interior behind the scenes community center kitchen - woman stirring large pot of soup, food being prepared in aluminum trays.
Woman delivering food, red door opens, she wishes man happy thanksgiving.
Large group of protestors crossing New York City streets, holding signs.
Male protestors, sitting in the street. Police in riot helmets, picking them up, dragging them away.
Gay/Lesbian Pride Day 1988 - people walking with the large banner at the parade.
Crowd at the '88 Gay/Lesbian Pride Day parade, celebrating in the streets, jumping up and down, walking holding hands.
As Rist narrates, the AIDS virus isn't necessarily a death sentence.
Nurse and Doctor surround African American baby administering intravenous medicine as mother looking on.
Rist narrating about how the real future devastation of AIDS is among the indigent Black and Latino folk and their infants, not the white gay men
Nancy and Ronald Reagan at a public event, people applauding.
Elizabeth Taylor dressed up in pink, smiling, standing beside Nancy Reagan
Man holding woman tight and close looking sad and devastated devastated. As camera pans out they are seen kneeling on the Project AIDS Memorial Quilts display.
People at Memorial Aids Quilts Project, kneeling, walking arm in arm amidst the hundreds of quilts.
Back with Darryl Yates Rist outside the Lesbian and Gay Community Center. He concludes his talk about AIDS and urges hope and will to stay alive.
Back in the studio with Host Robert Lipsyte and guests sitting at large round table. Interview/debate begins.
Richard, you were one of the people who was outraged by this article. Why?
Richard Goldstein 7:24
Well, we're not talking about hope here. We're talking about denial. There is a difference. The crisis is not over in the gay community. I mean, you know, two thirds of the cases of AIDS in this country are gay men. Half of the cases of AIDS in the city are gay men. If the infection rate is flat now, among gay men, it's because of the precautions that we've made and the and the vigilance that we've had. If this changes, if complacency takes its place, if negligence and denial take its place, there will be a second wave of infection in the gay community. This is not like the green cloud and the 10 commandments that hovers over us overnight and disappears. This is not that kind of plague. This is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. Maybe five or six years down the road, it would be fair to say that it's time to drop our concern with AIDS. But we are that's woefully premature now.
Robert Lipsyte 8:17
You think it was an irresponsible article?
Richard Goldstein 8:19
I think it was self promoting and irresponsible. I don't think it has anything to do with the facts. I think it's scientifically dangerous, medically dangerous. I think it's morally repugnant. I think it's politically unsound, because just imagine what would happen in the gay movement, which is now poised for a second wave of activism. If we drove aids to the periphery of our concern, there would be a schism right down the middle of the movement, with hundreds of 1000s of infected gay men and even Darrell with his cockamamie figures would probably agree that there are hundreds of 1000s of infected gay men in the country. Those people and their friends and their lovers and their allies, including me, I hope would be on one side. And people who deny the significance of AIDS would be on the other and the movement would be stymied dead in its tracks.
Robert Lipsyte 9:07
I want to come back to the second wave of activism. But first, I'm not asking you to defend against him, Darrell, but were you surprised at all by the outrage that the article caused?
Darrell Yates Rist 9:22
I didn't think I was completely ready for the some of the hatefulness that was perpetrated on the part of some of my critics, I think I expect I certainly expected debate over the article. Because there's a lot of investment in the epidemic. There's a lot of emotional investment. There's a lot of organizational investment. There's a lot of ego investment in the epidemic. And so I certainly expected people to be uncomfortable with a call to some kind of new perspective. I think that's that always happens when we're on a roll and someone says, I think it's Time to roll back a little bit. That's that's human nature.
Robert Lipsyte 10:03
Yeah, there's always the sense in in, in discussing this article and from whichever side you discuss it, that it playing into the hands of the anti gay movement. act up is certainly been upfront in terms of putting your bodies on the line. Did you have that sense from the article?
Mark Harrington 10:26
I really think the whole question has been framed in properly I don't think it's so much a question of AIDS versus everything else as it is a question of the relationship of the AIDS movement, which is coming out of the gay movement to the gay movement from which it is come.
Robert Lipsyte 10:40
Would you say that again? y
Mark Harrington 10:43
I'm very proud that the AIDS activist movement came out of the gay community and out of the gay nation. And I'm proud that one of the things that's come out of it is a new spirit of unity between gay men and lesbians. But I don't know where Mr. Gates risk lives in between his promotional tours for his book, but if you lived in New York City, he would know that the healthcare crisis that we have in the city is affecting every man, woman and child who lives in this city. 90% of the babies with aids are babies of color. Women with AIDS, 85% are women of color. It's far, far beyond an issue of just the gay community alone. And we are proud to be fighting for the lives of everyone who's affected by this disease. And finally, I think I really think there's a false dichotomy here between those who are going to live and those who are going to die. Unless every gay man goes out and takes the HIV test, there's no way to differentiate between those two groups. And if he's telling people that they shouldn't worry about it, the peak of infection has passed, he's dead wrong. incubation figures that just came out from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that the average incubation maybe as much as 10 years, that means the epidemic won't peak until 10 years after 1983 when people started changing their behavior in response to the epidemic. So we have to work on it for the next five years to make sure that people do continue to change their behavior and continue to to change their behavior in the other communities and communities of color, the lesbian community, because lesbians, too, are at risk for this disease. Many women who are lesbians have had sex with men in the last 10 years, the CDC has three documented cases of lesbian woman to woman transmission. And in 1981, six cases of PCP were found statistically significant in men. So why shouldn't three cases of woman to woman transmission in 1989 be found statistically significant?
Robert Lipsyte 12:20
rosemary, do you want to talk about that, among other things?
Rosemary Kuropat 12:23
Well, I think that what the focus of their gay movement on AIDS does is actually allow our opposition to, to equate aids with with the gay community and therefore isolate our community. For me, it's much more a larger issue of a national crisis in health care. AIDS is a part of that national crisis. But in fact, we don't provide as a nation for the health care of, of poor people or the most infirmed. So that it's not that I don't, I did not interpret Darrell's thesis as one of age is not important. But rather, there are so many concerns that that ought to be brought to bear on this issue, that we can't alone isolate aids as a as a crisis in and of itself, because it's one crisis of gay hatred, because originally the community was marginalized and deaths in the community were therefore See, interpreted as unimportant, it was easy then to disregard us. So they, the the crisis was allowed to escalate before it was really focused on and a national healthcare crisis that that just doesn't we as a nation don't provide for people, for people who are not well, and we're one of only two nations in the world that don't guarantee some form of health care.
Richard Goldstein 13:36
But AIDS is an acute situation. AIDS is not a chronic health problem. AIDS is an epidemic, you're not keeping your eye on reality here, you have to wake up and be real. This is this is a disease that potentially can affect virtually everyone who's sexually active. This is this is and this is something that that has no no end in sight unless we respond through changes in behavior. And, and can regulate a natural phenomenon through our own adaptation to it. And that's where it's different from breast cancer. Let's say there isn't a simple thing you can do that will wipe out breast cancer, there is thing there are things people can do that can wipe out AIDS that can keep it at bay. And that's why the vigilance that's why it takes center stage. It's a life saving measure.
Rosemary Kuropat 14:18
There's a difference between education and agitation. Education is terribly important. We cannot agitate for a cure, we can agitate for humane response on the part of our government to all people in need of adequate health care to poor people to the homeless, homeless people with AIDS are part of a larger crisis of homelessness in this nation.
Richard Goldstein 14:36
You must advocate for a cure, we won't get it otherwise,
Darrell Yates Rist 14:38
I would like to come back to some of the characterizations of the article because what I find very encouraging Richard is that you and I are so much of a mind on gay activism and AIDS. Well, I know it is because because you read the article with a profound inability to understand it. And you know, this is what I'm calling some of the the hatefulness In spite Richards responses, a very hysterical one to the peace. And yet we find that we agree, we agree that aids must not ever be abandoned, we cannot ever abandon the fight against AIDS. And of course, my in the conclusion to the article I spoke of our need to fight AIDS as more than we ever have. My my whole thesis is that while we're fighting aids while we're on the front fighting age, as vigorously as ever, in fact, more so that we should also not forget that people are dying and have always died or have had their lives destroyed by by innumerable other issues that are adversarial to gay men and lesbians. And so you know, Mark and I also ended up agreeing on this and and I'm glad to know that act up and I are, you know, maybe I could become one of the propagandists for act up after this. Because what I find is, he's saying that act up is not actually a gay movement. It's an AIDS movement. And I would encourage the society to continue to keep its eye on AIDS. It's a very dangerous disease, obviously, who's going to deny that
Robert Lipsyte 16:10
I don't want to rupture any mood of detente, but I do think that you're moving a little bit backwards from the original article itself, which really seemed more powerfully directed towards aids as a kind of false Cold War. That obscured other issues
Richard Goldstein 16:29
but a morbid lack of self respect. What about the majority of gay men will never be affected by I think that's true. I think that they listened to you they might well, you see, Darrell, let me make a point. Two thirds of the nurses have AIDS in this country, are occurring outside the big cities. That's the way sexually transmitted diseases always act in this country. Why is it that on your 60,000 mile jaunt, you didn't notice this? Why don't you wake up and smell the corpse?
Rosemary Kuropat 16:58
Richard, why don't you notice that half of the gay community is made up of women. And while three cases of woman two women try transmission may be documented, and I would argue that rather than documentation, they were noted as letters in medical journals, I think that there is a is a lower risk to lesbians as as a risk group on their face. Now all people have to be concerned with a sexually transmitted disease, at least all people are sexually active, absolutely agree with you completely in sex education has to be part of an AIDS education in our schools. But the gay community is made up of millions of people who, while they must be educated into the details of a transmission, I have equally pressing issues, I would argue the lesbian mother who's about to lose her children probably thinks that is more important than anything,
Richard Goldstein 17:48
But death is on a different scale.
Mark Harrington 17:49
And there's one group of people that's masked out as debate, and that's the people that are already infected with HIV. And what I really object to in Yates first article is the assumption that those people are already too late to save their lives. And that's not true already infected with HIV, people who are infected now with HIV. And I also want to disagree with rosemary about why we shouldn't agitate for a cure, we should be agitating for a cure our nation with its technological resources, and its great wealth, and its scientific knowledge has the resources to develop treatments, which can turn this into a chronic manageable condition within the next five years. We also have the resources to make a national healthcare system, if we cancelled the stealth bomber, we could have health care for everybody in this country. I think it's totally wrong to say it's inappropriate to put political action on the line to demand these kind of kinds of things. Because I think what is coming out of movements like act up is actually a new civil right, the right to healthcare.
Darrell Yates Rist 18:42
I think that's great. And I think act up should continue doing that as vigorously as it ever has. And to the extent that it is agitating for a kind of wholesale, new perspective on healthcare in America, health care for all the homeless, not just the people who are homeless, who have AIDS, then I would be on the front lines back. And for those who have homes, I think it is, you know, one of the things I think that is really unfortunate is that when what has happened in the gay movement, which traditionally has been a white, male and middle class movement, is that we don't understand if you know, Richard comes from a wonderfully protected society. He is at White, middle gay, wonder he's a white, middle class, urban, gay man. And, you know, he wants to know what I saw in my 60,000 miles of travel. What I saw was a lot of poverty. What I saw were a lot of women whose issues have been completely denied historically in the in the gay movement, but certainly all the more so during AIDS. I think that it's really an incredible callousness for Richard Goldstein, to sit here and tell women, that if their children are taken away from them, maybe with the possibility of never seeing them again, that that's not the same as death, you know, to be separated from from the soul that you you bore is a kind of death. I'm shocked at that kind of immorality. And it's the kind of immorality I think that maybe is a little too pervasive in the gay movement. And it's one of the reasons why we we cannot care about we cannot care about gay kids. Aside from AIDS, we cannot care from the homeless in the gay community or in general, aside from AIDS, everything I think to the extent that act up is an AIDS activist organization.
Mark Harrington 20:44
Well it seems you didn't understand that when you wrote your original article
Darrell Yates Rist 20:47
Oh no, I did. I think I think that there, I think that there was a pitiful failure to understand a very clear piece. It's amazing a woman from National Public Radio came to visit the other day and to interview me, and she sat down and she, having read only read the article having never spoken to me before, she gave much the kind of precis of the article that I'm giving now, someone who's not emotionally invested in this, I think can read the article very clearly. But you know, what I'm doing is I'm calling for a roll back, and people do not want to roll back. It's a loss of ego. It's a loss of power. And I think in the case of Richard, you know, he he is terrified of the sexual implications. But Richards personal terror cannot be allowed to be disseminated through the movement and affect the psychologies and the sex lives and the politics of the whole gay movement. I I'm sorry that Richard is so paranoid about that.
Robert Lipsyte 21:45
The rest the rest of are not privy to richard's, personal terror. What is your personal terror?
Richard Goldstein 21:52
My personal terror is that I will die of AIDS. It has nothing to do with sex. I, speaking of callousness want to know why people who mourn and grieve Kean and Rasp in your article, why this is a failure. Why this is done
Darrell Yates Rist 22:05
everyone who mourn and grieve. You see, I was there was a wonderful thing that happened. back about five years ago, I was one of the few gay writers who was writing about AIDS with any consistency. And it was a time when, of course, The Village Voice was was silent on the epidemic. And Richard was in fact, let me tell you, there's a very interesting story. Mike Callen Who is the one of the founders of the PWA coalition, the people with AIDS coalition, and and an incredible activist, very heroic man who has lived six or seven years now with diagnosis tells the story about five years ago, when he was walking down the street with a friend who had kaposi sarcoma lesions all over him. And he saw a journalist from one of the New York papers, a gay journalist who has has failed had failed to write about the epidemic. And Mike crossed over the street with his his friend, and his friend to meet up with a journalist and his friend reached down to pet the journalist dog, the journalist, a gay man, grabbed the dog back and said, Don't touch my dog. You know, this was back in the days, when there was such an incredible terror of the epidemic that some people could not even write about it. Now, that journalist today is one of the people who is most hysterical about the epidemic. I would rather not say, Richard, you may know who I'm talking about. But it's a kind of guilt is a kind of Latter Day guilt, I think. And as far as the hopelessness, you know, there was a wonderful article in the Bay Area reporter, which is the primary paper gay paper in San Francisco, the health director of the San Francisco health department, David, Dr. David Werdegar, told BAR just this February, that absolute fatality was not a concept that he believed in, that AIDS is becoming a conventional infection, one lives with real lifetime. It's like a diabetic taking insulin. And he went on to say that he's optimistic by nature, and that we have to convey a positive attitude towards AIDS
Mark Harrington 24:16
That's the goal. But that's not the reality and 1989. And one of the reasons for that is because access to health care in this country is so skewed on class lines. That's right. That's right. And I think but I don't want you to act like you're agreeing with me because you don't agree with us all down the line. And what, you know, we don't agree. We don't agree about the gay movement. We don't agree about lesbians. We don't agree about the future of the epidemic. And what I really see in you is the impotent rage of a leader without followers and a spokesman without a constituency except for the publishing company that's putting out your book. And I really resent the way that you are spreading all these personal attacks, making vituperative attacks on reporters from five years ago. We're dealing with a situation in 1989. The epidemic is going to continue till the turn of the century in the inner cities of America. It's going to decimate gay men all over this country. Till The end of the century it's a very long very slow disease, and progress on the disease comes very slowly. So don't read that happy talk from that San Francisco health guy, because that's not the reality of aids for people who are living with at night in 1980
80% of the people who were who were infected before 1985 are dead. Now. We're not at the point now where we can say that this is the view.
Darrell Yates Rist 25:21
I'd like to hear what she has to say
Richard Goldstein 25:22
Well you're not the moderator.
Rosemary Kuropat 25:24
Yeah, no, I would like to know their place on which disagreement exists on lesbian issues. Because I, I think that one of the things for me about act up is that not that act up is agitating, but that it isn't that people around the country everywhere are not agitating on a an array of issues, because act of has, very commendably really broadened its issues in the last six, nine months a year, we act up, we'll be very involved on the Webster case in the rights for abortion, I think that's terribly important. But that it's not there's not a larger movement nationally, are gay, our mainstream gay movement nationally, is much more conservative movement that doesn't take into and unfortunately, lesbian issues are not part of the conservative name, because the conservative man is defined by a white middle class, male agenda, of which act up is not part of it.
Mark Harrington 26:14
We're part of a different generation of activism. And I think one thing that happened in the 70s was maybe it was necessary for lesbians and gay men to build separate movements, it was really necessary for women to sort of get off and think by themselves and realize the nature of oppression against women and stuff. Things have changed. Now, I think that for, for younger people who came of age in the early in the late 70s, and early 80s, the nature of the oppression was never seen as as quite the same. And there was more of an ability to work together.
Rosemary Kuropat 26:38
You know, it's very easy to distinguish us on gender, age and generation. But I'm of the generation I'm of the active generation. I'm 30. I came of age in the late 70s. And I think that I have and I have always felt as going into the national gay lesbian taskforce, which was the National Gay taskforce before I arrived, was very much a part of what I believed was the necessary bridge between the gay and feminist movement because they're both based on gender oppression, because gay men are feminized by the larger structure. And so the forces that oppress gay men are the very same forces, the forces that affect or oppress women. And I felt that only lesbians could be that bridge. Only lesbians could join the two movements. And so I went into that. So I feel very much in agreement with you that that strength comes through coalition, which is exactly why I think the AIDS movement as an isolated movement is is in some way self defeating because important coalition between other people who are in need of health care, we're in an aging population, the need for health care in such a population is tremendous. We're in an increasingly impoverished population and the need for health care in that community is tremendous. So that forming Coalition's on those with with those groups, makes for tremendous strength and allows us not to be marginalized as women or as gay men, or as gay men with AIDS.
Robert Lipsyte 27:59
As important this is I'm afraid we're gonna have to leave this here. Darrell Gates Rist, Rosemary Kuropat, Mark Harrington, Richard Goldstein, thank you very much for being with us. This is the 11th hour. I'm Robert Lipsyte.
Interview/debate concludes. Host Lipsyte thanks guests.
Host Robert Lipsyte announces the show and introduces himself. show end.
Show credits overlay show graphics.
Funding for show by announcer and overlays the Eleventh Hour graphic.
Description: The Eleventh Hour - Show # Topic: Gay Politics & Aids Guests: Richard Goldstein, Sr. Editor The Village Voice; Rosemary Kurapack, Writer; Mark Harrington, ACT UP; Darryl Yates Rist, Author Original Broadcast Date: 4-6-89 Description: The issue of AIDS, gay activism, gay politics are discussed amongst writers and activists.
Keywords: aids quilts
Enter a name for the new bin:
Select the bin you'd like to add the clip to:
Share this by emailing a copy of it to someone else. (They won’t need an account on the site to view it.)
Note! If you are looking to share this with an Historic Films researcher, click here instead.
Enter the security code you see below:
Oops! Please note the following issues: