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The never-ending campaign

Arts & Entertainment

The never-ending campaign

Sarah Schulman and Shani Mootoo on activism, AIDS and the lesbian problem
Radical queer activist Sarah Schulman’s latest book, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Generation, examines the consequences of the AIDS crisis.
Schulman separates her writing into two categories of AIDS: “ongoing AIDS” and “AIDS of the past.” In her book she discusses the different qualities of each and their consequences.
“Here in the US, over 500,000 people have died of AIDS; 80,000 in New York City alone,” Schulman says. “It is preposterous to pretend that this mass death experience has not profoundly transformed our society and our hearts.”
Her book is culled from more than 30 years of experience and 15 years of writing. Its title comes from a lecture Schulman gave at the New School.
She considers writing a “lifelong calling with a biological foundation.”
Schulman’s role as an activist has taken many forms: she founded the Mix festival and the ACT UP Oral History Project and also created a feature length film, United in Anger: A History of ACT UP, directed by Jim Hubbard.
Activism is Schulman’s lifeline, and she says it fuels her writing and academic work. A professor of humanities at New York’s City University, she has also been an outspoken critic of the Israeli government’s ongoing human rights abuses (see video below).
However, she says her greatest struggle has been around queer politics.
“Authentic lesbian representation in mainstream arts and entertainment has proven harder to achieve than the creating of AIDS medications,” she says.
Shani Mootoo, the Toronto-based author of He Drown She in the Sea, believes Schulman is part of the new avant-garde. Mootoo will join Schulman in conversation at the Gladstone Hotel on March 11.
“If it involves Sarah Schulman, it is bound to be an evening of exploration,” Mootoo says. “An evening of radical yet very sane, smart ideas, and one just might come away, not only with a great book in one's hand, but with the sense that activism, creativity and radicalism are not only as necessary as ever, but are, despite an abundance of Goliaths at every corner, still very possible.”
Mootoo says Schulman’s latest goes much beyond memoir.
“Besides giving a concrete, personal and moving picture of New York City during the AIDS years, she contrasts that once-diverse, vibrant, radical city where cultural production was known for its edginess, its questioning of rules and norms and its demanding of answers and change,” Mootoo says.
She describes Schulman’s writing as a lifeline to her own work.
“She is a present-day queer Alice Miller,” Mootoo says. “I admire her rigour in inquiry and that she demands and expects such a lot of herself, and of us all.”
Mootoo, who is working on her fourth novel, describes her creative process as an exploration through oppression, fiction and story.
“Always I am trying to understand why, and how, we come to love who we love,” she says. “I've come to see that I use my writing to try and envision new paths for ourselves, and new kinder behaviours towards ourselves and others.”

The Deets:
Sarah Schulman in conversation with Shani Mootoo
Sun, March 11 at 7:30pm
The Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen St W

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Who died and made dykes in charge?
I'd like to see a panel of gay men discussing lesbians women's health issues. Can we have that in the next issue, please?
No need to pick villains, just end injustices.
"Pick your villain: Israel or its Muslim enemies." No need to pick or choose, they are both villains in some ways. The Jewish right-wing settlers are just as vicious as the Muslim terrorists. The Israeli Rabbis are just as nasty as the Muslim Clerics (and the Christian Fundamentalist preachers). Have you read the Israeli newspapers lately? This does not mean that all Jewish Israelis are vicious, but some are, nor does it mean that all Muslims are terrorists, but some are. AND the Jewish state also has some racist policies as do Muslim states. Of course I would rather live in Israel than in any Muslim country. AND according to interviews, the Palestinians who live on the Jewish side, would prefer to remain citizens of Israel, rather than Palestine, if there is a separation of states. AND Jews have accumulated 107 Nobel Laureates while Muslims only 7... And all the scientific and technical accolades heaped on Israel which it deserves... AND Gays are free in Israel, but persecuted in Muslim countries...Yes !! All true... At the same time there is an Israeli military occupation in the West Bank. Sarah Schulman is not anti-Semitic --because she is Jewish. She wants to see an end to injustices towards the Palestinians --and she has the right to voice her opinion. There are many Jewish people world-wide and Israeli Jewish people who want the Israeli military occupation of Palestine to end. The Occupation and the inch-by-inch creeping settlements are not only an injustice to the Palestinians, but also costly to Israel in lives, also in financial, emotional and international deficits. It would be practical for both sides to end the settlement and the Occupation.
more queered crap man hate bullshit
More vomit in Toronto the Queered this week. These hags whose shit don't stink should join the guy pushing trans men as Gods to smash all men. All of these people need to get jobs in the mining industry in northern Alberta for a few years living with real people and see how far their hatred and self-piety lasts. Sick making. The end of civilization.
re: Steven
Steven sorry to break it to you but Toronto Pride still supports freedom of speech and is opposed to censorship. Personally I think its a total disgrace for the NYC GBLT Center to censor members of New York's queer community. I'm not aware of US LGBT history much but here in Canada we've been having to fight censorship against queers for a long time and it was the right of freedom of expression that gained Canadian LGBT people there first advances in fighting back against anti-LGBT oppression. Censorship is never going to be acceptable, at least in Toronto's LGBT communities because of our history of having to fight against the censorship of our lives. To me its doubly disturbing to for any queer organization to use the tools of anti-queer bigots against other queer people or anyone else. Toronto Pride is a celebration of Toronto's queer communities, it would be extremely problematic to exclude some queers from Pride because their political beliefs aren't popular with some. Besides its not the groups opposed to Israel's denial of the human rights of Palestinians that cause the disturbance but those trying to silence them who constantly fan the flames of hatred and make such ridiculous claims like criticism of Israeli policy is anti-semitic that cause the disturbances which wouldn't exist if they were allowed to march in peace. If it isn't anti-Muslim bigotry to condemn the policies of Iran and it isn't anti-Christian to condemn Uganda's kill the gays bill then it certainly isn't anti-semitic to condemn Israel's human rights abuses against Palestinians, the brutal violence of the settlers and the theft and/or destruction of Palestinian land, property and crops, all of which happens daily in occupied Palestine along with the too frequent killings of Palestinians for daring to defend themselves or their property. Israel is our ally and our gov't supports Israeli HR abuses, until that changes the protests against Israeli policies will continue.
What do rich people think of the poor?
Lesbians discussing AIDS. Can't wait to hear what they have to say. Next week: white people on sickle cell anemia. Appropriate much? There's nothing more abstract than a lesbian academic. I really can't give a fuck what they think about stuff they don't know nuttin' about.
Schulman's Legacy Tainted by Her Divisive Politics
Sarah's legacy as one of the foremost AIDS advocates and historians is sadly tainted by her politics of division. By trying to infuse into the gay community, marginal Middle Eastern political issues that aren't relevant to 99% of us, she causes unnecessary strife. Make no mistake-- the reason so many of us >run< away from being involved in community leadership organizations such Pride, AIDS service organizations, GLBT community centers etc. are wackjobs who do everything possible to distract organizational attention and foment infighting and hurtful politics for their pet causes. The appropriate response (and thank god, both Toronto Pride and the NYC GLBT Center have figured this out) is to exclude such people. No discussion, no lip service, no dialogue-- you just get rid of these disruptive people.
Pick your villain: Israel or its Muslim enemies
Once again, Xtra and Queer leftists like Sarah Schulman (a QuAIA supporter) are trying to demonize Israel in the eyes of the LGBT community - while ignoring the horrible human rights record of Muslim countries that are Israel's enemies. Muslim countries continually persecute gays, oppress women and engage in other human rights abuses. Only yesterday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation walked out of UN talks on gay rights and insulted gay people in the process. See: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/03/08/kelly-mcparland-un-members-take-a-firm-stand-against-tolerance-for-gays/. This week, QuAIA and other anti-Israel groups railed exclusively against Israel on university campuses in Ontario. In the words of Macleans magazine, it was nothing more than a thinly veiled anti-Semitic frosh week for the far, far left. See: http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/03/05/its-apartheid-time-again-pick-your-villain/
gay misandrandric hatred. Could she possibly be more offensive? But that's the thing with these authentically elitist white people, always appropriating voices, removing agency from those whose should be heard, wrapped in a paradigm of consciousness that only those without would buy. This is what we end with when an entire generation of amazing gay men die. This is it. Could the loss be more explosively realized that THIS?
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