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The Queer/Gay Assimilationist Split: The Suits vs. the Sluts

Benjamin H. Shepard

Abstract


"I'll say it loud; I'll say it proud: I love drug companies," HIV-positive Andrew Sullivan recently boasted in The New York Times Magazine. As one of the most visible gay journalists in the nation, the statement spoke to a core dilemma within a gay and lesbian movement split between gay assimilationists, such as Sullivan, and social justice minded queers. The question was, how had this free-market loving Tory Thatcherite become a spokesman for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) movement? Sullivan's cavalier boast neglected the point that ACT UP, the pro-queer AIDS direct action group, had not only spent almost fifteen years fighting to get expedited approval for life saving medications, but had put their bodies on the line to get drug companies to lower prices so people could actually afford them. If ever there was a beneficiary of ACT UP's work, it was Sullivan, yet on more than one occasion in the mainstream press this gay, HIV-positive man has flaunted his contempt for their legacy. Sullivan explained that his medications cost his insurance company some $15,600 a year. And he seemed to be saying now that "I've got mine," the ongoing AIDS epidemic—now predominantly affecting poor people, drug users, minority women, and those in the developing world who cannot afford the life saving drugs—no longer mattered. The problem was that Sullivan was not alone.

Keywords


LGBT; Inequality

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14452/MR-053-01-2001-05_4

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