ACT UP / CHICAGO IS BACK !
April 26, 2006: ACT UP/Chicago meets every first and third Wednesday,
alternating between Coffee Chicago (5256 N. Broadway) and the John Merlo Library (644 W. Belmont) The Following Meeting is May 3 at the Library at 6:30 pm, etc
ACT UP/Chicago "Honored"
by Mary Patten
On Tuesday evening, October 17, 2000, ACT UP/Chicago was inducted into the Chicago Lesbian and Gay Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame (or "Hall of Shame," as some have called it) is a city-sponsored institution which hosts a yearly self-congratulatory bash attended by the Mayor, the "luminaries" of the mainstream LGBT communities, various local politicians, and the media.
How did it come to pass that an organization, once notorious for hounding Mayor Richard M. Daley for the city's deplorable record on AIDS, was now positioned to receive an honor from him, complete with commemorative plaque and publicity photo?
A few months earlier, some former members of ACT UP/Chicago decided to nominate the organization posthumously, as a way to open up some critical space to address the fact that AIDS is not over, not in Chicago, not anywhere. These folks put out the word as broadly as possible to the surviving members of ACT UP/Chicago still living in the city. A group of approximately twenty people began to meet in September to devise a response.
After much discussion and argument, in a process which both honored the memory of the political culture we had all shared, and which replicated many of the old dynamics of the group--alternately funny, infuriating, and sad --we agreed on a plan of action.
The choreographed routine requires that the inductees sit quietly with the Mayor on a dais while their tributes are read, and then take turns shaking hands with the him while posing for an official photo. We agreed to attend the event, but we decided to act and dress as pall-bearers at the political funeral of a dead organization. We didn't have coffins or other props, but observed a code of dress and conduct consistent with a solemn response. We stood together in two flanks fac