By Gabriela Laracca
***Please note this event was originally scheduled for March 7 and has been rescheduled to April 4 due to weather conditions.***
Peter Staley is an internationally-known hero for his involvement in the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) and for founding AIDSmeds.com and Treatment Action Group (TAG). He is also a primary figure in the 2012, Oscar-nominated documentary, How to Survive a Plague directed by journalist David France. Dr. Curtis Herr of the English department has invited Staley to speak at KU on April 4. He will be holding two separate lectures, one for Herr’s 10 a.m. Gay and Lesbian Literature class in Lytle 212 and a campus-wide lecture at 7 p.m. in Boehm 145.
Diagnosed with HIV in 1985, two years before the formation of ACT UP, Staley was determined to use this passion for change to fight for better treatment. ACT UP was also fighting against the homophobic and desensitized Raegan-era mindset that encouraged society to ignore the thousands of individuals dying because of HIV/AIDS. In 1992, Staley branched off with other members to found TAG. TAG’s main dedication in their activism was to push for treatment advancements and research.
During his time with ACT UP, Staley was involved in many protests including, but not limited to, infiltrating the New York Stock Exchange to oppose the price of AZT (one of the only AIDS medications on the market at the time), the “Stop the Church” protests fighting against the Catholic church’s views on sexuality and safe sex, and the National Institute of Health demonstration in Bethesda, MD. Staley has been arrested approximately ten times throughout his time as an activist and because these choreographed demonstrations were considered civil disobedience by some and inspiring by many, they received a great deal of media coverage.
“This is about activism and making a difference in the world,” Staley said about his upcoming lecture. “If you’re curious about that, if you’re worried about the state of things today and you want to make a difference either now or down the road, then join me for a conversation on how to do that.” Attend this mind-opening lecture to learn that change is possible and how to achieve it.