SCOTT WALD, 54, Organizing for America activist. Came to ACT UP in 1988 at age 28.
I knew I was HIV-positive when I came to ACT UP. My first boyfriend had died of AIDS in 1985. ACT UP became my home, my safe harbor. I felt enormous community and power there. Hundreds of people, men, women, all different ages, committed to saving our lives. Prior to that, we were weak, waiting for ourselves or our friends to die.
What was your proudest ACT UP moment?
When we stormed the FDA in Bethesda in 1988, shut it down, and got a huge amount of media attention about how we wanted to get drugs into bodies. Also the night before the 1992 election, we marched with the body of our colleague Mark Fisher, who had died, to Bush election headquarters. We'd reached the point of emotional exhaustion by that point. Many of us were having personal crises. It was the last time I remember seeing everyone in one place before I left ACT UP.
What about your life since then?
That was the peak of my life. For many years I couldn't do anything else. It was like a drug for me. We went our separate ways after with a lot of our pain that we never healed from. That's why it's so amazing that we're doing this tonight. We're finally trying to heal together.