by Rex Wockner
NEW YORK, N.Y. – About 250 people picketed the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Manhattan Thursday, in a demonstration that is being seen as the possible resurrection of ACT UP.
The picket was organized two nights earlier at New York City’s Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center after legendary activist
and writer Larry Kramer gave a rousing 59-minute speech on the occasion
of the 20th anniversary of ACT UP’s formation.
“We must realize that gay people are hated,” Kramer said in an interview, “I want this new ACT UP to be an army confronting this hate in every way we can.”
The target of the demonstration was Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who, on March 13, told the Chicago Tribune, “I believe
should not condone immoral acts. … I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy [in the military], just like I would not want it to
sleeping with somebody else’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior.”
Several well-known individuals attended the Pace protest, including Kramer, former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, author and radio host Michelangelo Signorile, columnist Michael Musto, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman, longtime activist and TV host Ann Northrop and blogger Joe.My.God.
Photographer Andres Duque said Foreman and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum were arrested for obstructing traffic and “their rainbow flag was taken into custody.”
At one point, Foreman and Kramer knocked on the door of the recruiting station, Duque said, “but there was nobody inside and it seemed closed for business.”
Asked if the legendary ACT UP now is officially back, Kramer, who launched the original organization in 1987, said: “We’ll see. … These are the delicate first weeks to see if the troops coalesce or drop by the wayside. Like the Sondheim song, we are ‘putting it together, bit by bit, piece by piece.’ That is how it was in . We didn’t know where we were going, we just figured it out. The needs are different now. Then it was AIDS and now it is utter sheer hate hurled at us right and left.”
At press time, what apparently is being called ACT UP ARMY had announced several more actions in New York City, including one targeting a live airing of Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” and a large demonstration in favor of universal health care.