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Remembering Activism: Jesse Helms (Home) Wears a Condom

Helms_condomAlmost 17 years ago, activists from ACT UP put a condom on Jesse Helms' house in Arlington, Virginia to draw attention to the late senator's vocal opposition to AIDS funding, safe-sex, and gay rights. Rex Wockner remembers the action, performed by James Serafini, Peter Staley, Mark Allen, Jason Childers, Garance Franke-Ruta, Derek Link and Sean Strub, on his blog.

You can watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

The day ACT UP put a condom on Helm's house [rex wockner]

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Comments

  1. they should have slipped a condom over the old bastard's coffin when he was lying in state... too bad somebody didn't piss on the coffin as well...

    Posted by: the queen | Jul 8, 2008 8:59:15 AM


  2. Thanks for the video, I heard about this incident on the verge of his death. I was a kid when this happened, but I feel in debt to the courage of those brave men and women activists.

    Posted by: Rafael | Jul 8, 2008 10:02:25 AM


  3. Keep it real now Queen, you are spot on.

    Posted by: Sebastian | Jul 8, 2008 11:14:40 AM


  4. Ah, activism....I remember it well.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jul 8, 2008 11:45:43 AM


  5. A fabulous, fascinating blow-by-blow account of the action [including the involvement of Towleroad contributor Kevin Sessums, Greenpeace, and a certain Gay Mafia billionaire who surprisingly paid for it] by the guy who thought it up, POZ magazine/AIDSmeds.com's Peter Staley at
    http://blogs.poz.com/peter/archives/2008/07/in_memory_of_je.html

    THREE CHEERS for all involved, including Strub, who in addition to founding POZ once used his younger wiles on no less than Tennessee Williams in order to get him to sign the first fundraising letter that founded what was then called the Human Rights Campaign Fund.

    With apologies to Pete Seeger: where have all the balls gone?

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jul 8, 2008 2:13:40 PM


  6. I'm amazed there were no arrests. I guess Helms just wanted to keep it quiet, and he did. I remember no coverage of this at the time, in either the mainstream or gay press covering DC/Northern VA.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 8, 2008 3:20:49 PM


  7. I remember this quite clearly. This was the best of ACT UP--activisim with a sense of humor.

    Posted by: DB | Jul 8, 2008 5:27:51 PM


  8. And exactly how did this "action" change anything?

    Please point to the specific piece of legislation, or advance in medical research, benefitting people with HIV/AIDS, that resulted from this "action."

    Posted by: LightningLord | Jul 8, 2008 10:42:59 PM


  9. Lightning -- please click on my username here to read the blog entry about this action, its motivations, and goals. We wanted to basically defang Helms when it came to AIDS policy in the Senate.

    He had previously proposed and successfully passed incredibly damaging amendments that created stigma and blocked HIV prevention programs.

    We hoped the action might do two things -- diminish his ability to be an AIDS leader in the Senate (other senators might decide that since the whole country had just laughed at this buffoon because of his AIDS positions, then those positions weren't as popular as they thought), and maybe convince Helms himself that if he attacked us again, he'd pay a price.

    I knew up front we'd never be able to point to some event that showed this action worked. I do know that he never again proposed or passed AIDS legislation that hurt our community.

    Coincidence? We'll never know.

    Posted by: Peter Staley | Jul 9, 2008 8:35:15 AM


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