ACT-UP

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ACT-UP was an AIDS activist group most active in the early 1990s with chapters in many cities. The group brought a direct action approach to AIDS activism with the use of colorful and innovative protests. ACT-UP stands for AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power.

ACT-UP popularized slogans such as "SILENCE = DEFEAT" and "ACT UP, FIGHT BACK".

However, ACT-UP was eventually torn apart by several contentious debates within the organization. Some within the group wanted to focus on AIDS activism and demand a proactive government effort and funding for AIDS research and a cure; others instead wanted the group to pursue a broad identity politics agenda against racism, sexism, and homophobia or were more interested in rooting out racism and sexism in the gay community. Other contentious debates were between those who wanted to promote mainstream medical and scientific approaches to curing AIDS while others wanted to promote alternative medicine, medical marijuana, conspiracy theories regarding the origin of AIDS, and other contentious issues. Sadly, the factor which more than any other led to the demise of ACT-UP was the fact that many of the group's founders themselves fell victim to the effects of AIDS.

Local groups using the ACT-UP name survive in a few cities. Queer Nation was a short-lived gay rights group inspired by ACT-UP's protest style.

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