The story of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America is often the stories of gay and bisexual men, as they were the demographic most affected. However, women played a huge role in caring for the sick and dying, as well as standing on the front lines with groups like ACT UP to demand the government take substantive action on the issue. All too often their tales have been overlooked.
The documentary Quiet Heroes is one such attempt to right that wrong. It explores the work of Dr. Kristen Ries, and her partner in both life and medicine, Maggie Snyder. Ries was the first, and for many years during the height of the crisis the only, doctor in the entire state of Utah who would treat HIV/AIDS patients.
It premieres Thursday night.
In advance of the airing of Quiet Heroes, Logo brought together four lesbian activists who played a fundamental role in responding to the epidemic, to talk about what led them to the work, what they helped achieve, and how it impacted their lives forever.
The powerful and moving conversation finds Gay USA producer and host Ann Northrop sitting down with activists Maxine Wolfe, Amanda Lugg, and Staci Smith.
"At that time I didn't even know that women were affected by it, I just felt like, this is part of my community, this is part of New York. I have to go to do something," recalled Wolfe, reflecting on how she got her start advocating in the field.
Wolfe said she found the handful of women who were active in ACT UP at the time to ask if women were part of the group. When she got an answer in the affirmative, she dove in and quickly began to become an integral part of its bold activism.
"I do activism because it works," said Smith, who currently works for West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, and is on the board of Health Gap. "Every positive social change that you can think of that's happened in this country, or policy that has been put in place, has started with activists."
Watch the full discussion below, and remember to tune into Logo tomorrow night, August 23, at 8/7c, for Quiet Heroes.