Gay Health Politics In The 1970s

Gay Health Politics In The 1970s

After prolonged years of strife, objection, and steady loathe, the LGBTQ community, has won the hearts of many. Viewing queerness as a progressive norm or exhibiting similar traits attributed to queer folks is now characterized as vogue, as opposed to its disapproval, of which an individual is likely to carry the heavy burden of its protracted outcomes.

The notion of queerness being accepted widely in the West, as opposed to Africa has been subjected to debate, however, as it stands, the West appears to approve of the movement, which they now describe as a pretext for the fundamental human rights. That is, individuals now have the right to practice whichever sexuality they deem fit.

But, as we begin to analyze the chronicles of the movement, the journey was always prone to admonitions from religious conformists. In the early twentieth century, queerness was seen as a mental disorder; one that correlated with a reversed version of human psychology. The acceptance of queer folks, at the time, did not correspond to nature. Individuals, within the status quo, were not allowed to participate in distinct jobs, they could not exercise the franchise of political participation, and more critically, the affairs of gay health were sidelined.


The 1960s and 70s marked a turning point in the endorsement of social movements. In the US, this feat gained momentum and, as one of the most remarkable thematic records, the transformation of the movement encouraged the visibility of its members. It ensured that gays and lesbians could come out freely without any form of discrimination, likened to their experiences in the early years. Historically, the Stonewall riots of June 28, 1969, a crucial part of gay history — now commensurate to Gay Pride — established suitable grounds for the gay population to walk on.

In spite of the glistening effects that enhanced the inclusiveness of the gay and lesbian community, the stigma did not entirely subside. Within the crux of the minority group, gay men were not given access to proper health care. In fact, Katie Batza stated that “many gay men faced public health challenges stemming from their political marginalization and social stigmatization”, hence they evaded mainstream health institutions for fear of misdiagnosis, ostracism and the possibility of their queerness being taken as a psychological disorder.

Likewise, the medical needs of lesbians meandered within the compass of gynaecology, rising cancers, access to fertility medications, and birth control. The activism of lesbians resonated with, the marginalization of queer folks, the provision of sufficient health care, and the prevalent sexism that was expressed towards them by the gay men. Needless to say, the health disparities between the two, motivated gay activism, towards curbing an AIDS epidemic that struck in the 1980s.


Sources have it that “HIV arrived in the United States around 1970, but did not come to the public’s attention until 1981” when published reports announced that five homosexuals had contracted a rare form of Pneumonia that could only be a consequence of a weak immune system.

As the foreign disease spread mostly among homosexual men, news publishers and papers termed it the “gay plague”. The use of the term further validated the discrimination of the minority. What followed was the banning of gay men from donating blood in 1985. Prejudice against the minority of homosexual men, was at its peak when different gay individuals consolidated their voices to fight for the crumbling rights of gays and lesbians. In lieu of this, organizations such as Lambda Legal and ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) were established for the purpose of creating a coherent footing on equal rights for gays and lesbians.

According to CNN, Lambda Legal was the first legal organization that was set up by a group of gay lawyers. In 1983, the establishment won the first HIV/AIDS lawsuit that threatened to evict Dr. Joseph Sonnabend from the building he treated gay HIV/AIDS patients.

Notwithstanding, the latter, ACT UP was founded in the United States to “bring attention to the AIDS epidemic”. Their primary aim was to find a cure for the disease, thereby eradicating a variety of biases that stood among homosexuals.

There were also clinics that served “as first responders to the epidemic”, but they were discretely located in fear of a violent and prejudiced attack. The National Gay Health Infrastructure established protocols that would aid research and outreach of clinical staff and good knowledge of AIDS. The clinics provided health care to those that were afraid to portray their sexuality whilst serving the purpose of striking the “national venereal disease epidemic” that hunted the United States. Still, most of these clinics were started by gay doctors to meet the needs of their friends that feared mainstream health facilities.

The narrative of homosexual health care conformed to the AIDS crisis that shook the movement’s foundations. Yet, the realization during this period enabled the evolution of mainstream health institutions to fare for the medical activities of homosexuals. The discrete clinics, according to Batza “still exist”, only that they are much bigger and open.

Lately, the community of LGBTQ has encountered an influx of members, as well as individuals that flow with such ideas; governments have become more inclusive, and even some religious bodies now accept the community into their conclave! Asides from the West, African countries are gradually coming to terms with the change that seems inevitable. This era promotes freedom of choice and condemns all levels of discrimination against queer folks.

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