Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2016-10-19
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



AIDS: 'Patient Zero' discussed at history association panel
by Erica Demarest, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

A panel of historians set to work deconstructing the "Patient Zero" myth Jan. 7, as the American Historical Association ( AHA ) 's Committee on LGBT History convened at the Chicago Marriott Downtown, 540 N. Michigan Ave.

"In 2011, we marked the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the HIV/AIDS pandemic," said Ian Lekus of Harvard University. "To be precise, it was the anniversary of the June '81 epidemiological reports. The origins of HIV are far murkier. Where did the virus originate? How long did it manifest in gay men and other people infected in the United States before it became clear there was a crisis?"

In his 1987 book And the Band Played On, journalist Randy Shilts identified gay Canadian flight attendant Gaétan Dugas as "Patient Zero," or the man who may have brought AIDS to North America. While myriad medical officials have since debunked Shilts' hypothesis, it nonetheless managed to captivate the American public.

In his paper "'Patient Zero' and the 'Recalcitrant' Queer," Philadelphia University's Phil Tiemeyer outlined how Dugas was used as a catalyst for anti-gay legislation and quarantine efforts in the 1980s and 1990s.

"Randy Shilts's narrative may not have led directly to [ anti-gay ] laws," Tiemeyer said, "but it did tighten the perceived link between AIDS and queer sexual depravity, thereby allowing such legal changes to occur more easily."

Tiemeyer argued that the origin myth's arrival some six years after AIDS was 'discovered' was uniquely suited to aid conservative agendas.

"Gaëtan seemingly proved that men who engage in anal sex and cavort in bathhouses invite plague-like diseases on themselves and the rest of society," Tiemeyer said. "For the world to make this sensational myth about the origin of AIDS in America… demonstrates more than anything else society's revulsion with gays post-Stonewall sexual freedom."

Richard McKay from King's College London used his paper "Communicative Contacts: Randy Shilts, Gaétan Dugas, and the Construction of the 'Patient Zero' Myth" to examine Shilts's reporting tactics.

McKay argued that Shilts circumvented patient confidentiality laws and misused personal stories to construct a largely biased characterization of Dugas.

"Shilts' dark characterization of Dugas drew its intensity from — and indeed combined with — the journalist's intention to cast the disease itself as a character in his history," McKay wrote.

David Palmer from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also presented a paper titled "AIDS, the Religious Right, and Gay Sex in Late 1980s North Carolina." He illustrated how gay press and local conservative figures helped shape a nuanced region-specific response to the pandemic, challenging the popular notion that the Religious Right had presented one unified, monolithic reaction.

"AIDS is a national, indeed global, issue, but…. it is also an epidemic rooted in local concerns and political considerations," Palmer said. "Responses to AIDS took shape in concert to a host of locally drawn political concerns."

Chet DeFonso of Northern Michigan University emceed the panel, and Lekus closed with a call for more AIDS-related investigations.

"Scholarship on the pandemic is one of the most exciting emerging fields in U.S. history," Lekus said. "This growing body of work is overturning all the ways that we thought we knew the historical narrative in the 1980s and first half of the 1990s."

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Housing opportunities for youth 18-24 living with HIV 2016-10-21
Johns Committee: A 1950s 'witchhunt' for LGBTs 2016-10-19
Former French justice minister on equality, division 2016-10-19
Puerto Rican scholar on queer culture, racism and sexism 2016-10-19
Lesbian historian's home up for sale 2016-10-19
'Before Stonewall' series ends Oct. 18 2016-10-19
LGBT History Month honors ex-president, athletes, actors 2016-10-19
Legacy Walk unveils 2 new plaques under rainbow sky 2016-10-16
CDPH announces new fatal case of meningococcal disease 2016-10-15
Howard Brown to host government officials in HIV stigma, epidemic talks 2016-10-14
New HIV medication and patient assistance program announced 2016-10-14
Gay-bar literary submissions wanted 2016-10-12
Legacy Walk dedication to honor Sylvia Rivera, Vito Russo 2016-10-12
HIV+ prisoners focus of AFC Black Lives Matter conference 2016-10-11
LGBT HISTORY MONTH Who you gonna call? New web series blends thrills, LGBT history 2016-10-11
HRC observes Coming Out Day with video highlighting celebrities'stories 2016-10-11
Wilmette man accused of criminal HIV transmission 2016-10-11
America's first LGBTQ history themed study released on National Coming Out Day 2016-10-11
Legacy Project to dedicate Sylvia Rivera bronze memorial 2016-10-08
OPEN TO THINKING Dickie V. and Me: Sexual Identity in 1950s America 2016-10-05
Recognizing National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2016-10-05
MOVIES Bruce Vilanch, Cleve Jones discuss Vito Russo, Celluloid Closet 2016-10-05
Legacy Walk dedication to honor Sylvia Rivera, Vito Russo 2016-10-05
Northwestern to run LGBT, AIDS exhibitions 2016-10-05
AFC's Project Elevate hosts premiere of video vignettes 2016-10-05
'Before Stonewall' series Oct. 11, 18 2016-10-04
LGBT History Month honors ex-president, athletes, actors 2016-10-04
Before Stonewall, there was Cooper Donuts 2016-10-04
Black Panthers and Gay Liberation Front: Did Black Lives Matter then, too? 2016-10-04
PASSAGES Marie J. Kuda, Chicago gay pioneer, dies 2016-10-02
Thousands participate in AFC's 15th annual AIDS Run and Walk 2016-10-01
2016 LGBT History Month honors 31 icons in October 2016-09-29
Illinois HIV+ people urged to take quiz 2016-09-28
Remarks by President Obama at National Museum of African American History and Culture 2016-09-25
County health system expands PrEP access 2016-09-21
Remembering Edward Albee 2016-09-21
Project Elevate red carpet Sept. 29 2016-09-21
'Before Stonewall' series Oct. 11, 18 2016-09-21
White House meeting on LGBTQs, People Living with HIV in criminal justice system 2016-09-20
'My Positive Message' HIV video-awareness campaign launches 2016-09-20

Copyright © 2016 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.
[email protected]  •  [email protected]  •  [email protected]

Website Powered by