AIDS at 30

10 Heroes Who Stood with Gay Americans in the AIDS Plague

Dame Elizabeth Taylor: When her friend, actor Rock Hudson, revealed publicly in 1985 that he had AIDS, Taylor stood by him and said she would commit her life to the fight to stop AIDS. She was true to her word. Only her death, in March 2011, could stop her activism.
Photo by Alan Light

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  • Michael Bedwell

    Christ of the Andes! Was enjoying this appropriate salute until I came to an inexcusable regurgitating of the MYTH that Harvey Milk was “the first openly gay elected official in the country”! He wasn’t even the SECOND. Please print his out and post it over your PC:

    1st – Kathy Kozachenko (Ann Arbor, Mich., City Council, April 1974)
    2nd – Elaine Noble (Massachusetts House of Representatives, November 1974)
    3rd – Allan Spear (Minnesota State Senate, reelected November 1976 after coming out, in office, in 1974) He was also the first out gay leader of a state legislature [not CA’s John Perez as the Courage Campaign claimed] serving as the Senate’s President from 1992-2000. In all, he was there 28 years.
    4th – Jim Yeadon (Madison, Wis., City Council, April 1977)
    5th – Harvey Milk (San Francisco Board of Supervisors, November 1977)

    Thank you.

  • SteveC

    Oh well.

    Harvey was 5th then.

    He’s famous so he’s 1st (iconic and shit).

  • QJ201

    While Gaga is to be commended for her LGBT Advocacy, except for a Mac cosmetic promotion, she really hasn’t done much of anything HIV/AIDS specific to warrant her inclusion on this list.

  • John Crespin

    Bravo to all your selections and I’m sure everyone can think of ten additional folks to add to this great list. I would have added Michael Jordan.

  • keep queer & carry on

    Lady Gaga is not gay, but she is a member of the LGBT community! She is bisexual.

  • pro person

    really? you couldn’t say heroes/heroines in your headline?

  • Tyler

    fuck gaga being on this list. supporting those with AIDs now vs when Liz Taylor did… apples and oranges. Stop crawling up Gaga’s ass queerty. just stop now. her being in the top ten is laughable.

  • Jeff

    Larry Kramer is NOT any sort of hero to LGBT people or even gay men, or people with HIV/AIDS. He’s never been anything but a professional victim and professional complainer, and cares about nobody except himself and other rich white gay men.

  • Toferdavid

    Jeff, I am gay. Larry Kramer is a hero. He is a hero to me.

  • Max the Communist

    1) Lady Gaga is a member of the LGBT–the B stands for bisexual.
    2) Lady Gaga’s activism is largely LGBT focussed, not HIV focussed. Plus she’s two generations too young to even have experience of the pandemic at its worst in America.
    3) Want a bisexual HIV activist who actually did make an impact in the war against HIV? May I suggest the little known but crucial work of Dr. David Lourea. A major activist at the San Francisco Bisexual Center (1976-1985) and appointed to Dianne Fienstein’s AIDS Education Advisory Committee in 1983, Lourea convinced the SF Department of Public Health to include bisexual men in its weekly “New AIDS cases and mortality statistics” report. That model was then adopted by other public health departments around the country. Ultimately, Lourea’s work was responsible for the national government adoption of the term MSM (men who have sex with men) as a designation that includes all men engaging in same-sex activity, whether they identify as gay, straight, bi or no labels.
    Or you can read about the HIV activism of Elias Farajaje-Jones, Lani Ka-ahumanu, Cianna Stewart and many others at

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