OutRage, August 1983:
Tags: Alison Thorne / media criticised / Melbourne / Victorian AIDS Action Committee / women / Women's AIDS Network (US)
On Tuesday July 12 a public meeting was held in Melbourne to discuss organising around the AIDS issue. I was the only woman present at that meeting. In May I attended a public meeting at the Sydney Gay Community Centre to discuss similar issues, with particular emphasis on how to deal with the blood bank. There, too, I was the lone lesbian voice.
Yet I know lesbians have been feeling the effects of the media hysteria and the homophobic jokes. We cannot stick our heads in the sand and say this a a ‘boys’ issue’. An anti-gay backlash will affect us all.
As lesbians we have a lot to contribute to gay community action around the AIDS issue We are talented organisers and we are able to contribute a feminist analysis.
In the United States a Women’s AIDS Network has been formed. Twenty five women participated in the founding meeting held on June 9, 1983. The meeting was an impromptu part of the second National AIDS Forum. The group, comprising both lesbians and heterosexual women, contained many education, community and health care activists and workers.
The goals and objectives of the Women’s AIDS Network are broad and divided into three categories. They want to educate gay men and the broad community about the action women are taking around the AIDS issue. The Network also wants to counter the blame-the-victim sentiment and the negative attitudes about gay male lifestyles in their women’s and lesbian communities. Health workers need educating about lesbian and gay lifestyles, gay men about feminism, lesbians and women in general; and finally the general public needs educating to stamp out homophobic attitudes.
The second broad category that the Women’s AIDS Network will be dealing with is supporting, supporting themselves as people who are caring for and losing friends and brothers; who are health activists and health workers, and who are women working in largely male groups. They will also do support work for AIDS patients.
The final area the Network will involve itself in is action. They want to encourage and promote active participation of the lesbian and feminist communities in AIDS organising and they are working towards women having an equal involvement m the National AIDS Federation in terms of decision-making and participation.
If you want to know more about how you can be involved in VAAC write to me c/o PO Box 334, Fitzroy,3065. Alison Thorne