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 2019-08-21
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Author documents straight women on front lines of AIDS crisis
by Matt Simonette

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

A new book by Chicago author Victoria Noe pays tribute to dozens of unsung heroes of the AIDS/HIV crisis, chronicling myriad contributions from straight women who, since the early '80s, have intervened in numerous capacities to give aid and comfort to those persons impacted by the infection.

"They felt compelled to help, knowing that they'd get little to no recognition, and it's been that way since the beginning," said Noe. "It's still that way, but maybe a little less so. It was certainly that way for the first 10 or 15 years."

Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community, published in late March, documents how numerous women around the world stepped up in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, even when government, media and the general public were all in the dark about AIDS' origins and its potential consequences. Among those persons Noe profiles are healthcare providers, researchers, religious personnel, mothers and celebrities.

Noe's book shatters a number of stereotypes about who was doing much of this activism work. She notes, for example, that numerous members of the Junior League were early activists on behalf of persons with AIDS, volunteering at hospices and day care centers dedicated to their care, at a time when many Americans were not willing to do so.

Noe said, "They'd been doing that since 1986. There's such a stereotype about Junior League members—it sort of blows up that stereotype."

The organization shared with her their vast records that detailed the work, not attributing to them much importance.

"The international office in New York and the [local] office in San Francisco just sent me stuff," Noe said, adding that upon actually reading the materials, she'd often end up asking Junior League officials, "Do you know what it is that you have here?"

Indeed, many of the persons she profiled did not see any significance in their accomplishments.

"It wasn't about [service] awards, or anything like that," said Noe, who said she tried to present a mix of different stories.

She was especially proud to be able to tell the story of Trudy James, an Arkansas hospital chaplain who noticed that few of the AIDS patients in her charge received visits from family or friends. James eventually coordinated a large-scale program that linked persons with AIDS and their families with pastoral volunteers, essentially developing an AIDS ministry; she was nevertheless adamant that those volunteers were not allowed to proselytize, however. She eventually moved and founded a similar program in Washington State.

"Linking these patients with church volunteers was unheard of, even here [in Chicago]," Noe said. "The relationship between those two communities was tense, to put it mildly."

Noe added that, when she contacted her, James similarly questioned why an author would be interested in her story.

Noe herself put in much time contributing energy to AIDS-related causes and activism, and did worked as a fundraiser for various organizations. She doesn't remember if any one incident or development specifically inspired her to become a active, she said.

"I think it was just the growing worry," Noe recalled. "At the beginning, it just seemed so small. Then it was like it just exploded. I was in the theater, so it was affecting people that I worked with and guys that I went to college with. I was outside the [LGBT] community, but it was reaching me."

Another reason the story Noe tells has largely been ignored is that society overall has failed to comprehend how a group of straight women could have been profoundly affected by HIV/AIDS. Noe said that her physician years ago scoffed when she first asked to be tested for HIV.

"He asked, 'Why would you need to be tested? What have you been doing?'" she recalled. "I said, 'Why shouldn't I be tested?' … That was because the narrative, at least for the first 15 years, was overwhelmingly about gay men."

The energy around this particular moment in AIDS activism died down with the advent of AZT triple-therapy in the mid-'90s, Noe said. But her book details a number of contemporary straight women who are making their voices prominent in HIV/AIDS activism.

"The Positive Women's Network is doing remarkable work, mostly with minority women," she said. "What I also love is that today's divas are women of color and are younger. The divas of the old days were mostly older and white, and there's nothing wrong with that. But now, they are women who are younger, mostly African American, and can harness social media. They are able to reach their communities in ways that someone like me could not do."

facebook twitter pin it 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.


Gay News

'Savage Love Live' in Chicago on Sept. 26 2019-08-23 - Author, sex-advice columnist, podcaster, pundit, public speaker and It Gets Better co-founder Dan Savage will bring his famous column to Chicago when "Savage ...

Gay News

Bechdel Fest 7 set for Aug. 25-28 2019-08-21 - Broken Nose Theatre ( BNT ) has announced the full line-up for Bechdel Fest 7: Momentum—the company's annual festival of new short plays ...

Gay News

Powerful AIDS group may be examined for use of federal funds 2019-08-21 - California state Sen. Ben Hueso ( D-Chula Vista ) has asked state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to investigate if the AIDS Healthcare Foundation ...

Gay News

Goldie Goldbloom on new book, being a queer Chasidic Jew 2019-08-21 - Chicago author and queer Chasidic Jew Goldie Goldbloom's newest book is On Division. It centers on the life of Surie Eckstein in Brooklyn, ...

Gay News

MOMBIAN Pushing for inclusivity in children's books, one publisher shows how 2019-08-21 - Orca Book Publishers of British Columbia, Canada, is an independent publisher with the goal of offering "reading material that represents the diversity of ...

Gay News

BOOK REVIEW The Ghost Photographer 2019-08-21 - By Julie Rieger $25; Enliven/Atria Books; 243 pages You know how they do it. It's a snap, really. A little bit of ...

Gay News

WORLD Fleeing Russia, Cuban activist, UNAIDS, Magnum ad 2019-08-21 - Gay married couple Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev were forced to flee Russia over concerns their adopted children could be taken away, ...

Gay News

Author Shapiro speaks at Women and Children First 2019-08-14 - Fort Lauderdale-based writer Gregg Shapiro, a native of Skokie, visited Women & Children First Bookstore in Andersonville the evening of Aug. 7. Shapiro, ...

Gay News

Women & Children First to host Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor 2019-08-13 - Women & Children First is honored to present U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for a moderated conversation and audience Q&A followed by ...

Gay News

We need to talk about the 'Pose' hospital episode right now 2019-08-07 - The TV show Pose, on FX, is nothing less than astounding to me. So much could have gone wrong, with the era, the ...


Copyright © 2019 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 publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.