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AIDS


  • Originally published 08/05/2013

    Hugh Ryan: How to Whitewash a Plague

    Hugh Ryan is a freelance writer and the founding director of the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History.THE New-York Historical Society’s current exhibition “AIDS in New York: The First Five Years” accomplishes a neat trick: it takes a black mark in New York City’s history — its homophobic, apathetic response to the early days of AIDS in the early 1980s — and transforms it into a moment of civic pride, when New Yorkers of all stripes came together to fight the disease. It’s a lovely story, if only it were true.To judge from the opening animation — a short video titled “What is AIDS?” — this show is aimed at AIDS neophytes, and as an informational vehicle it succeeds. Many of the images and ephemera are powerful testaments. But such details sit against an apologist backdrop that sees the city through rose-tinted glasses.

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Judging Mayor Koch’s AIDS Record, Whispers Aside

    There’s a moment toward the end of “Koch,” a soon-to-be released documentary by Neil Barsky on the extended political career of the city’s 105th mayor, in which Edward I. Koch, eternally single, is asked to address questions surrounding the longstanding interest in his sexuality. He responds as he has done for a long time now, declaring that it is no one’s business. He argues that his engagement with the issue would set a precedent for gross intrusions into the personal lives of political candidates, a bit of narcissistic posturing that seems to ignore the extent to which that field has already been trampled by mad dogs and wild horses.In the past, Mr. Koch, who is 88, handled the question by joking at the absurdity of any fascination with the sex life of an old man — presumably he has not kept up with the boundless tabloid interest in Hugh Hefner’s late-life erotic shenanigans or with Cialis ads. Certainly Mr. Koch has maintained a more vigilant security apparatus around his intimate life than most contemporary public figures one can think of.

  • Originally published 06/19/2014

    Stop the Surveillance State

    After 9/11, the Bush administration unveiled plans to create an integrated, comprehensive surveillance state unprecedented in human history. The public rebelled against “total information awareness,” but the NSA and other government agencies continued constructing a spying infrastructure of previously unimaginable proportions. Despite the administration’s promise that all war on terror surveillance satisfied traditional warrant requirements, the NSA circumvented even FISA’s loose restrictions to spy on American telecommunications.