18 Women Who Made an Impact on AIDS

Maxine Wolfemaxine

Maxine was involved with the early beginnings of GLAAD and worked at the Lesbian Herstory Archives before attending her first ACT UP meeting in June of 1987. One of the foremost lesbians involved with the movement, she was part of the Women’s Committee. “Even though the Lesbians were a small group, we were the people who had done politics,” she said in an interview. “We were the people who did the civil disobedience training. We have always been the marshals.”

Catherine Gundcatherine-bomb

Filmmaker Catherine Gund was inspired by her mom’s donations to ACT UP before she joined herself while attending Brown University. She shot several short films about ACT UP’s work and actions, several of which aired on DIVA TV, the AIDS activist video collective associated with the organization. Catherine has made several films and recently directed the documentary Born to Fly about out choreographer Elizabeth Streb.

 Alexandra JuhaszAlexandra Juhasz-pitzer

Dr. Alexandra Juhasz is the author of AIDS TV: Identity, Community and Alternative Video and is an educator on both feminist and AIDS-related issues. She was also a producer on lesbian-themed films The Watermelon Woman and The Owls and works to combine activism with visual media. Alexandra identified as straight at the time that she first joined ACT UP, eventually becoming part of the women’s caucus for actions such as  one against Cosmopolitan magazine’s article on women being immune to AIDS.

Anna Blumeanna-blume

Introduced to ACT UP by friend, writer Laurie Weeks, Anna was part of an affinity group called the Marys. One of the actions she was involved in was Day of Desperation in 1991, where she infiltrated PBS’s MacNeil/Lehrer Report and chained herself inside with handcuffs. Anna is now a professor at NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology.

Jean CarlomustoJean Carlomusto

The filmmaker documented much of the ACT UP actions and work in several different film and TV documentaries like Living With AIDS, Sex is an Epidemic and Larry Kramer in Love and Anger. MSNBC has a great piece on her work today in which she gives the following advice to women: “Believe in yourself. Trust your instincts. Get involved. The future of the planet depends on it.”