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Paper Topic:

The impact of AIDS on the gay and lesbian movement/community

Although the AIDS epidemic has occurred in a period when social conservatives have been politically dominant in most Western societies increasing the stigma against homosexuals and homosexuality , it has also translated into much greater recognition of the homosexual community and a homosexual movement , in most Western democracies . As the 1980s progressed , the gay and lesbian community increasingly realized the devastating impact of AIDS on gay men . The complex of diseases called AIDS was first discovered among gay men in 1981 . From the first moment the gay male community became aware of AIDS

(which was first called GRID - gay-related immune deficiency , it responded politically . By the end of the summer in 1981 , a group of gay men had already met at author Larry Kramer 's apartment in New York City and had established the Gay Men 's Health Crisis (GMHC ) - the largest AIDS organization in the country today

It is not , of course , homosexuals who are at risk for AIDS but rather those who practice certain forms of "unsafe " sex . This distinction between behavior and identity , which often seems academic , is in fact vital to a rational understanding of AIDS . Because the media and the public generally do not make these distinctions "gay " and "AIDS " have become conflated , so that the public perception of homosexuality becomes largely indistinguishable from its perception of AIDS . This , in turn has two consequences (1 ) It causes unnecessary discrimination against all those who are identified as gay and lesbians , and (2 ) it also means that people who are not perceived (and do not perceive themselves ) as engaging in high-risk behaviors can deny that they are at risk of HIV infection . As the gay movement matured in the 1970s , however , it made more concrete demands of governments , pressing for antidiscrimination ordinances and for financial support for gay organizations and activities . But , in large part , the gay movement retained an adversarial relationship with the government , a relationship made possible because of the movement 's emphasis on self-assertion "coming out ) and challenging social stigma . All this changed with the appearance of AIDS

Demands for government-funded research were first made by New York 's Gay Men 's Health Crisis , the first community-based AIDS organization . And the demands have not stopped there : Governments are asked to support research , patient care , services , and education programs . Inevitably such demands involve gay participation in the processes of government - policy-making , membership on liaison committees , day-to-day contact with bureaucrats , and so forth . But the process has been two-way . Governments have understood that to research the disease , to provide the necessary services , and to bring about the behavioral changes (primary prevention believed to be the most effective strategies against the spread of the disease , contact with the most affected groups is required . AIDS has thus forced governments to recognize organizations they had previously ignored , and this has resulted in strengthened gay organizations , often with the help of state resources . As a generalization , the response of gay groups and those working in local AIDS education and...

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