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BODY COUNTS by Sean Strub


A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival

by Sean Strub

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4516-6195-8
Publisher: Scribner

A prominent activist and publisher ties his personal journey into the epochal events that have shaped the last 35 years of LGBT rights and AIDS education.

Even growing up as a closeted Catholic Midwesterner, Strub knew that his gift for initiating progressive political change would someday bring him to Washington, D.C. Although he spent the late 1970s meeting congressional movers and shakers via his job as a Senate elevator operator, he soon realized that New York City provided a more congenial atmosphere for a young gay man beginning to explore and advocate on behalf of his sexuality. Strub paints a striking picture of the grittiness and exuberance of the Big Apple at this time, when the city was reveling in the last hurrahs of freedom that encompassed discos, singles bars and bathhouses. Amid all the revelry, however, disquieting references to a “gay cancer” began appearing, and sexually active gay men began to find suspicious lesions on their bodies. At first, Strub writes, many in the gay community chose to ignore or dismiss these signs; however, in 1982, an article written by two men who had contracted what came to be known as AIDS sparked controversy by linking the disease to the unfettered sexual activity that had characterized the post-Stonewall years. Well aware of the devastating effects of AIDS on so many Americans, the Reagan and Clinton administrations nevertheless neglected to provide the support or fund the research that might have slowed the epidemic. Thus began an intense effort on the parts of Strub and other activists to promote safer sex, demand access to treatment and give hope to those diagnosed with HIV. The author achieved the latter by founding POZ magazine in 1994 and later, after protease inhibitors halted the progression of his own disease, by creating the Sero Project to empower those who have been criminalized for having HIV.

A valuable document that gives an insider’s view into AIDS activism and declares that compassion can mean just as much as cure.