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Introduction
If I’m dying from anything—I’m dying from the fact that not enough
rich, white, heterosexual men have gotten
AIDS
for anybody to give a
shit. You know, living with
AIDS
in this country is like living in the twi-
light zone. Living with
AIDS
is like living through a war which is happen-
ing only for those people who happen to be in the trenches. Every time
a shell explodes, you look around and you discover that you’ve lost more
of your friends, but nobody else notices.
—vIto ruSSo,
“Why We Fight”
I would say, that in this horrible, selfish, dishonest, “private” social mo-
ment, the kind of “activism” based on an ethic that people are respon-
sible for how others act and how they are treated is pretty much impos-
sible. . . . I’m glad I witnessed the gorgeousness of
ACt uP
so that I
know that it is right and possible to intervene on behalf of others. But
I don’t expect to see a moment like that right now. The status quo on
AIDS
is a consequence of this moment. It will change and this change re-
quires a different counter-culture of personal values. I believe that it will
come, and talking about it is part of making it possible—even if the timeline
of change is a long one.
—SArAh SChulMAn,
“Gentrification of the Mind”
Attending Fever in the Archive, a retrospective of
AIDS
activist videos from
the 1980s and 1990s at the New York Guggenheim in December 2000, I was
struck by a bitter irony framing the context in which the work was shown.1
When I arrived at the museum, a crowd was thronging around the ticket
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