‘‘We interrupted the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather; three of us got onto Dan Rather’s set, chanting, ‘AIDS Is News, Fight AIDS, not Arabs,’ we were hauled off the set and arrested.’’
This was just one of the many examples of protest English Professor John Weir participated in the late 1980’s. This was the time when the AIDS epidemic was beginning to reach its peak as the government was turning a blind eye toward those who were infected, the majority of whom were gay men.
Professor Weir spent many years combating the government/medical indifference toward the global AIDS crisis alongside his advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community more generally. ‘‘I volunteered for a couple of years for Gay Men’s Health Crisis. For a year I ran a writers group for about a dozen guys, all but one of whom died of AIDS over the course of that year; and I wrote a piece about the writers group,’’ Professor Weir said. ‘‘ My professor showed it to the Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Magazine, and it was published there in 1986. There had been not much writing about AIDS in mainstream publications at that point.’’
Toward the end of the decade, Professor Weir had gotten involved with a group called ACT UP New York. The group’s main objectives were to not only find a cure for AIDS, but to call for action from the government and the medical/pharmaceutical industries. From 1989 to 1991, ACT UP confronted various legislators and pharmaceutical companies about the ongoing AIDS crisis, demanding a response.