"Pushing the Envelope" Panel discussion

Description

Discussion of the origins, strategies, tactics, and legacies of four local direct-action groups: DC's Gay Liberation Front, the Lesbian Avengers, ACT-UP, and OUT. Lena Lett moderated. Bruce Pennington described the beginnings of DC's own Gay Liberation Front, its commune at 1620 S Street which offered a safe haven to gay youth and people living rough. Pennington described GLF's links with the Black Panthers and GLF's contribution to the founding of the Gay Men's VD Clinic, MCC, the Gay Switchboard, and Gay Men's Counseling Group. GLF's organizing materials for the first DC Gay Pride in 1972 illustrated GLF's role in that event. Cheryl Cort recalled the origins of DC's Lesbian Avengers in a DC-Baltimore collective. Cort offered insights into the Lesbian Avengers' philosphy of direct action and recalled zaps and other actions. Cort recalled the precise targeting and structuring of actions by the Avengers. Cheryl Spector spoke for OUT, recalled the 1980s direct action group that focused on AIDS issued. Spector detailed OUT's involvement in the creation of GLOV, safe sex workshops, and participation in actions against sodomy laws. Spector recalled, "the best moment was when the red paint went in the fountain at the Capitol." Wayne Turner traced the evolution of ACT-UP's DC chapters, noting that the 1987 March on Washington helped spread ACT-UP chapters. Turner noted, "I've always thought of ACT UP as Cassandra … in the forefront of predicting AIDS disaster and not being believed. Turner recalled a wide range of ACT Up actions including Ashes actions spreading the remains of people who died of AIDS on the White House lawn and the public open casket funeral for Steve Michaels in front of the White House. In closing Turner asserted "I don't want to see another generation go through what we went through; those were horrible times." 36 people attended.

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Citation

David Lett (mod.); Cheryl Cort; Bruce Pennington; Cheryl Spector; Wayne Turner, “"Pushing the Envelope" Panel discussion,” Rainbow History Project Digital Collections, accessed July 23, 2024, https://archives.rainbowhistory.org/items/show/1295.

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