|The ACT UP 25th Anniversary Rally at 16th and Mission Streets on April 6. Photo by Rink.
Emphasizing that AIDS is not over, more than 200 demonstrators on Good Friday participated in the â€śResurrection March of ACT UP.â€ť Marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), the event commemorated the lives of almost 20,000 San Franciscans who have died since the epidemic began and the approximately 16,000 who are living with HIV today.
People with HIV/AIDS and the AIDS activist community gathered for the march from the Mission to the Castro. A sign noted: â€śWe will mourn our dead and fight like hell for the living here in San Francisco and around the world.â€ť ACT UP was known for a confrontational and effective style of direct action that has been widely influential for organizers of todayâ€™s Occupy movements.
The march linked the issues of gentrification and lack of affordable housing faced by people with HIV/AIDS and our communities today by starting at Wells Fargo, a major profiteer of the housing crisis. â€śACT UP was founded to take on the powers of economic violence and sexual repression that interfere to this very day in efforts to save lives,â€ť said X of ACT UP. â€śWells Fargo has made billions, while people with HIV/AIDS struggle to survive and stay in this city.â€ť
The march continued to the steps of Mission Dolores Church to protest the Catholic Churchâ€™s continued role in condemning people to die of AIDS globally, as well as the Churchâ€™s repression of sexual freedom and health here at home. Several of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence led a litany and
exorcism, citing facts and asking demonstrators to shout, â€śShame!â€ť after each accusation: January 1987, Pope John Paul II declared homosexuality an intrinsic moral evil; Summer 2008, SF Archbishop Niederauer formed an alliance with the Mormon Church to overturn California same-sex marriage with Prop 8; in March, American Catholic bishops and priests condemned gay marriage at 2,500 pulpits; Pope Benedict XVI condemned Britainâ€™s plans to legalize civil marriage for queers; American bishops opposed adoption of children by gay and lesbian couples; Catholic bishops worldwide concealed child molestation by their priests; Catholic officials opposed the right of women to control their own bodies; and Catholic bishops oppose the use of condoms to prevent AIDS. The Sisters shouted, â€śWe call on the Catholic Church to STOP KILLING US!â€ť
Ashes of those who died during the epidemic in SF - especially those of famed ACT UP demonstrator Stephen Fish (mixed with glitter) - were tossed onto the steps of Dolores Church. There followed an old fashioned die-in, with â€ścorpsesâ€ť traced onto the asphalt with chalk. â€śIt was a fantastic job, and good to see old ACT UP guard, new queer young radicals and all the colors of the rainbow and spectrum of our tribe represented,â€ť said veteran activist Waiyde Palmer, who noted Fishâ€™s â€śglittery afterlife presence.â€ť
The march ended at Harvey Milk Plaza in a commemoration of ACT UP and the many lives lost to HIV/AIDS, featuring a reading of the names of activists in our community who died during the epidemic in the Bay Area.