BREAKING: Photos Of Russian Consulate Protest Hit The Web

Yesterday, Queer Nation and RUSA LGBT announced that the two organizations would be holding a joint protest of anti-gay violence and legislation outside of the Russian Consulate in Manhattan today. Now, according to Joe My God, "100 activists are demonstrating outside the Russian consulate". They've also apparently been joined by members of ACT UP, and photos are now hitting the web thanks to the Memeographs Facebook page and the ACT UP New York Twitter Account.

View some of the photos AFTER THE JUMP...

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UPDATED: ACT UP Disrupts Stoli Event At Splash In New York - VIDEO

  Most Original Stoli Guy
Less than a dozen members of ACT UP / NY stood up in front a crowd of roughly 150 at a "Most Original Stoli Guy: New York" event taking place at Splash Bar in Chelsea yesterday, and began shouting and displaying signs with slogans such as "Russia Kills Gays" and "Dump Stoli". Most of those in attendance viewed the demonstration in "bewildered silence", according to Gay City News. The show's drag queen host was the only one who vocally supported the Russian vodka brand, quipping, "This is what happens when you drink Absolut".

As security began tearing some of the group's signs and escorting them out of the building, the host went on to add, "Look at those assh*les being taken out of the bar. This is America, not Russia!" 

While ACT UP's demonstration turned out to be brief, one of the group's organizers, Mark Milano, was still pleased. "I think it was great," he said. "They were totally taken off guard. There were Stoli executives in the room who saw their event crashed." Another ACT UP member, Brandon Cuicchi, told Gay City News that “Stoli was doing an event they could not do in Russia. You’re not LGBT-friendly marketing to gay people while saying nothing in your home country. 

Act UpACT UP, an HIV awareness and activism group, first started making headlines during the late 1980's, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Now, the group is expressing its concern that Russia's new anti-gay "propaganda" law might cause harm to groups seeking to combat HIV in the country:

"The ACT UP demonstrators voiced specific concern that under the new Russian legislation, dissemination of safe sex education, condoms, and AIDS treatment drugs will be targeted as 'homosexual propaganda,' something that could cripple effective prevention efforts. The group is calling on UN AIDS to condemn the new Russian law."

Stoli's parent company, SPI Group, has already decried the Russian vodka ban and expressed its support for the international LGBT community. Many human rights activists, including the likes of Dan Savage, remained steadfast in their efforts to "dump Russian vodka". Last night's demonstraton no doubt serves as a reminder of that fact. 

UPDATE: Video footage of the protest has hit the web. Watch it AFTER THE JUMP...

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Check Out These Stunning Interactive Maps of the State of HIV/AIDS in America

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Writing today in the Washington Post, pioneer AIDS activist Peter Staley calls for the LGBT community to recommit itself to fighting HIV and AIDS after this week's landmark wins for marriage equality at the Supreme Court:

[I]n our exaltation over wedded bliss, we are forgetting another kind of “til death do us part”: the bonds that tie us together as a group, across social strata, race and generations — the same bonds that helped us fight AIDS.

During the worst years of the AIDS crisis, from 1981 to the advent of effective medications in 1996, the gay community forged a new definition of love: It encompassed traditional romantic love, but it went beyond the love between two people. 

Today, though, we’re so caught up in the giddiness of the marriage-equality movement that we’ve abandoned the collective fight against HIV and AIDS.

Staley notes that the country's largest LGBT rights groups have pivoted almost exclusively to marriage equality, pointing out that the most recent annual reports from the three largest organizations--the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)--make no mention of the words 'HIV' or "AIDS.'

It's true that advances in HIV treatment have helped HIV-positive individuals live long, healthy lives.  But 15,000 people die of AIDS every year in the United States, and more than 1 million people in this country are living with the disease.  The issue continues to be more acutely felt in the LGBT community specifically--as Staley points out, more than half of today's college-aged gay men will be HIV-positive by age 50 if current infection rates remain constant.

In light of those numbers, AIDSVu has a fantastic and eye-opening new set of interactive maps that show the density of people living with HIV across the U.S. on a county-by-county basis.  You can play around with the maps by looking at individual states and even some major cities, as well as filtering results based on factors like age, race, sex, education, income and health insurance.

Here's the AIDSVu map for New York City.  Hopefully these data will be seen widely and will help spur a conversation in our community about the importance of highlighting HIV and AIDS as ongoing issues that affect all LGBT Americans.

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(photos courtesy of AIDSVu)

ACT UP NY Members Hold 25th 'Reunion' in West Village


NY Mag's Tim Murphy posted a slideshow of an ACT UP NY reunion which was held over the weekend at 49 Grove, in the West Village.

Writes Murphy:

But when one of the veterans, Jim Eigo, took the mike and started the old chant, "Act up, fight back, fight AIDS!" there were more than a few less-than-dry eyes in the house. Eigo is among the first-wavers who've started going back to the classic Monday night ACT UP meetings at the LGBT Community Center to address scary stats showing that HIV continues to rise at high rates among young gay men. Even ACT UP godfather Larry Kramer was there, despite frail health. The night's new joke slogan? "Act up, fight back, fight age!"

Check out his slideshow, with interviews, here.

Flashback 1989: Gays Demand Marriage Licenses in Manhattan - VIDEO


in 1989, 20 gay couples backed by ACT UP marched into the marriage bureau in Manhattan demanding marriage licenses in what WCBS-TV New York called a "violent protest".

Says Thomas Stoddard of Lambda Legal Defense in the report: "Within 20 years at least half the states will permit two men or two women to get married."



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AIDS Activist Spencer Cox Dies at 44


Spencer Cox, the pivotal AIDS activist who co-founded ACT-UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) and was featured in David France's recent documentary How to Survive a Plague, has died at Columbia Presbyterian of AIDS related causes, France writes in a note:

As a very young man fresh from Bennington, where he studied Theater and English Literature, he arrived in NYC after finishing just 3 years. He was diagnosed with HIV soon thereafter. By 1989, at age 20, he had become spokesman for ACT UP during its zenith through the early 90s. A member of its renowned Treatment & Data committee, and later co-founder of TAG (the Treatment Action Group), he schooled himself in the basic science of AIDS and became something of an expert, a "citizen scientist" whose ideas were sought by working scientists. In the end, Spencer wrote the drug trial protocol which TAG proposed for testing the promising protease inhibitor drugs in 1995. Adopted by industry, it helped develop rapid and reliable answers about the power of those drugs, and led to their quick approval by the FDA.

Even before ACT UP, he began work for amfAR, first as a college intern, eventually going on staff as assistant to Director of Public Affairs, responsible for communications and policy. He left there to co-found the Community Research Initiative on AIDS (now the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, ACRIA) with Dr. Joseph Sonnabend and Marisa Cardinale. At ACRIA, he ran public affairs and edited all publications.

From 1994 to 1999, he was Director of the HIV Project for TAG, where he did his groundbreaking work in drug trials designs. He designed the drug trial adopted in part by Abbott as they were developing Norvir, the first Protease Inhibitor to head into human trials. It had an "open standard-of-care arm," allowing people on the control arm to take any other anti-AIDS drugs their doctors prescribed, versus the arm taking any other anti-AIDS drugs plus Norvir. It was this study that showed a 50% drop in mortality in 6 months. Norvir was approved in late 1995. Though the results were positive, the proposal sharply divided the community, many of whom thought it was cruel to withhold Norvir on the control arm. Spencer defended himself in a controversial BARON'S coverstory that made him, briefly, the most-hated AIDS activist in America. Ultimately he was vindicated.

Watch the final interview with Spencer Cox shot by David France for his moving documentary, AFTER THE JUMP...

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