Unmissable online event 'The History of Gay Health Action' details the battle against AIDS in 1980's Ireland

As part of their series The Quilt In Focus, Queer Culture Ireland and Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride are hosting this special online discussion.

A poster for Gay Health Action reading 'Play Safe'

Going live on the Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride Facebook channel, the latest in the Queer Culture Ireland discussion series, The Quilt In Focus, will look at the history of Gay Health Action and the impact they made during the battle against AIDS in 1980’s Ireland.

The organisers let us know what to expect: “Despite their life-saving work, Gay Health Action’s efforts are often overlooked, but there can be no doubt that they saved many, many lives in Ireland. The event will focus on the events leading up to the foundation of Gay Health Action in 1985; the media coverage surrounding HIV and AIDS in Ireland, along with the public AIDS education campaigns and support services instigated by Gay Health Action throughout its five-year history.”

“[It] was founded following a series of meetings at the Hirschfeld Centre and Trinity College Dublin in January and February 1985, attended by representatives from the National Gay Federation, Dublin Lesbian and Gay Men’s Collectives, Cork Gay Collective, Cork Irish Gay Rights Movement, Trinity College Dublin Gay Society, Tel-A-Friend and Gay Information Cork. Over the next five years, Gay Health Action pioneered public HIV and AIDS education campaigns in Ireland. Their campaigns, in contrast to the government’s, sought to promote safer sex practices, adopting explicit language in doing so. Their educational material included the first AIDS information leaflet published in Ireland in May 1985, a play safe card, a condom card, AIDS Information Booklet, and a joys of sex poster.”

Following their disbanding in 1990, Senator Shane Ross remarked the “heterosexual community owe a debt to the homosexual community in that the gay community, especially in Ireland, took the initiative on the AIDS problem … The gay community tackled this problem responsibly, and presumably, protected many in that community and many heterosexuals from the AIDS virus.”

Host James Grannell will chat with Bill Foley, Cathal Kerrigan and Ciaran McKinney, founding members of Gay Health Action, to reflect on their efforts to respond to the HIV and AIDS crisis in Ireland and GHA’s legacy.

Watch The Quilt in Focus: The History of Gay Health Action on Facebook Live this Wednesday at 7pm.

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