Saturday night at the West Village’s 49 Grove, the venerable AIDS activist group ACT UP NY, which pulled off spectacularly bold demonstrations in the late eighties and early nineties to force the government to speed up development of lifesaving HIV medications, held a reunion of sorts for its first wave of surviving members. (The group still exists, but in this age of effective HIV meds, its membership has been a modest few dozen folks for several years.) Organizers billed the party as a “don’t-call-it-a-reunion reunion.” Says one of them, Andrew Miler, “The idea of a reunion seemed a bit too varsity club for us. We were never known for our sentimentality.”
But when one of the veterans, Jim Eigo, took the mike and started the old chant, “Act up, fight back, fight AIDS!” there were more than a few less-than-dry eyes in the house. Eigo is among the first-wavers who’ve started going back to the classic Monday night ACT UP meetings at the LGBT Community Center to address scary stats showing that HIV continues to rise at high rates among young gay men. Even ACT UP godfather Larry Kramer was there, despite frail health. The night’s new joke slogan? “Act up, fight back, fight age!” Take a look at the ACT UP warriors as they reminisce about old times and clue us in to what they’ve been up to since.