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Hold Tight Gently : Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS
by Martin Duberman

Overview - In December 1995, the FDA approved the release of protease inhibitors, the first effective treatment for AIDS. For countless people, the drug offered a reprieve from what had been a death sentence; for others, it was too late. In the United States alone, over 318,000 people had already died from AIDS-related complications--among them the singer Michael Callen and the poet Essex Hemphill.  Read more...

 
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More About Hold Tight Gently by Martin Duberman
 
 
 
Overview
In December 1995, the FDA approved the release of protease inhibitors, the first effective treatment for AIDS. For countless people, the drug offered a reprieve from what had been a death sentence; for others, it was too late. In the United States alone, over 318,000 people had already died from AIDS-related complications--among them the singer Michael Callen and the poet Essex Hemphill.
Meticulously researched and evocatively told, "Hold Tight Gently" is the celebrated historian Martin Duberman's poignant memorial to those lost to AIDS and to two of the great unsung heroes of the early years of the epidemic.
Callen, a white gay Midwesterner who had moved to New York, became a leading figure in the movement to increase awareness of AIDS in the face of willful and homophobic denial under the Reagan administration; Hemphill, an African American gay man, contributed to the black gay and lesbian scene in Washington, D.C., with poetry of searing intensity and introspection.
A profound exploration of the intersection of race, sexuality, class, identity, and the politics of AIDS activism beyond ACT UP, "Hold Tight Gently" captures both a generation struggling to cope with the deadly disease and the extraordinary refusal of two men to give in to despair.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781595589453
  • ISBN-10: 1595589457
  • Publisher: New Press
  • Publish Date: March 2014
  • Page Count: 356


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > LGBT
Books > Social Science > Gay Studies
Books > Medical > AIDS & HIV

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-01-06
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this insightful history, gay rights activist and distinguished historian Duberman (Stonewall) attempts to revive AIDS awareness by detailing the early years of the epidemic, particularly the period of 1981–1995. He sets the details within a framework constructed around the experiences of two men: white singer/activist Michael Callen and black poet/cultural worker Essex Hemphill, both of whom lived with AIDS for years and died at age 38. Duberman pulls no punches in capturing the chaos, uncertainty, and ignorance of the era, looking at the sexual culture that allowed the disease to thrive; he also examines the fear and contradictions of the political environment. Through interviews, writings, personal experience, and Hemphill’s poetry, Duberman creates a vivid, complex snapshot of the fractured, conflicted gay community as it responded to the growing problem. It’s a sobering narrative, replete with the sexism, racism, homophobia, and false leads that marked the onset of the AIDS epidemic. Most importantly, it addresses the role of AIDS as a “gay disease” and exposes the differences between the white and black gay communities in their responses. Duberman’s accessible, open, and honest prose reminds us that AIDS is not over; only the sense of urgency has waned. Agent: Frances Goldin, Frances Goldin Literary Agency. (Mar.)

 
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