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Book Forward: Activist Book Club

The current book choice is “From ACT UP to the WTO” and here is a post about the book’s foreword by Eric Rofes:
from ACT UP to the TWO book cover

The forward.
I am so excited about reading this book and the forward has set the stage for me and posed a number of important questions. Fofes lays out how this book came into being, and the natural dissonance that grows talking about activism with younger populations. I experience this in a way too from both sides. Like Rofes’ students, when I am amidst advocacy veterans from. The ’60s, I sometimes wonder, if they know about any movement since their own, and why are they doing things exactly the same way as they have always done it even if it has never really worked.

And then, on the otherside of it, I find myself in a room full of very young folks who have this amazing passion and fiery drive for change, and they are utterly ignorant about previous social movements, and especially those which have come within the Queer community such as ACT UP.

One of my favorite examples of this revolved around the term, Queer, when a young person who identifies as queer acted as if this current generation owned the term, or had made it up or something. And while they may not see things the same as me, in reality, people like myself had been referring to ourselves as queer since before this young person had even been born. They had no clue that what Queer denotes could be more than their own limited ideas about it.

As Rofes sees, this is partly because no one is/ was teaching community activism using examples that today’s youth see as part of their own generation. In fact any of us who only use pre-70’s efforts as illustration, indirectly imply that past the “golden age of the ’60’s ” that people weren’t very active, which wasn’t true.

I don’t know why we know so little about the great work that groups like ACT UP did, and perhaps this book will illuminate this, but too soon for me to tell, having only completed the Forward. Do we not know, because no one thought it important enough to document and pass along/teach? Do we not know, because the larger culture is stil uncomfortable with a very queer movement, and the stigma of AIDS still creates a blockage to adequate discourse?

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