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Focusing on Callen and Hemphill he tells simultaneously occurring truths, exploring the impact sexuality, race, and the different ways people lived in the early days of the epidemic through activism and cultural production. Through Hemphill specifically Duberman is signaling to the incompleteness of history and corrupt ways it is manufactured. While he is specific in how systemic discrimination due to race and sexuality exasperates the ongoing AIDS crisis, he is never specific when it comes to the archival imbalance.

Maybe he leaves this up to the reader to both think and act upon.

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This is but one of the fights on the ongoing battlefield of AIDS. March Name required. Email will not be published required. Please use kind words. Your e-mail address will not be published. For ten years he has been working at the intersection of art, AIDS and activism. Currently Kerr is doing his graduate work at Union Theological Seminary.

hold on tight

Leave a Reply Click here to cancel reply. Name required Email will not be published required Homepage. Gravatar is supported. 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. 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. Martin Duberman's Hold Tight Gently is an unflinching masterpiece. Tracing these two lives through poetry and activism, Duberman captures the pain, despair, panic, heroism, and moral bravery that defined the generation of women and men who first faced this modern plague.

Daringly imagined and beautifully written, Hold Tight Gently is a major work of modern history that chills us to the bone even as it moves us to tears. Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and other visionaries are revealed as complex individuals who made change but did not benefit from it. Throughout, Duberman confronts the racism at the core of the AIDS movement that became the global crisis of access to treatment.

A bold work for a community that wants to understand itself.

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With Hold Tight Gently , he has done it again and magnificently so. Michael Callen and Essex Hemphill come back to life in these pages. Funny and moving, enlightening and thoughtful, inspiring and enraging, this dual biography reveals the heartbreaking losses caused by the epidemic as well as the many ways people fought back. It can teach those who weren't there what that first decade of AIDS was like and remind those of us who were how intense those years were.

And all this through the life stories of two compelling individuals.

Martin Duberman not only brilliantly chronicles grassroots AIDS organizing in the early days of the epidemic, but the vibrant black lesbian and gay political and cultural movement that flowered during the same period. Through the lives of two remarkable men, Hold Tight Gently illuminates how race and class are inextricably linked to the struggle for sexual freedom and that against all odds people can fight for justice every day.


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A wonderful and important book. Sadly, these perspectives are still urgently needed in today's world where those facing the devastation of AIDS are often invisible to mainstream politics. A poignant and politically potent tribute to those who have died from AIDS and who fought to make a difference even as their lives were cut short.

Duberman's take on these seminal figures illuminates their singular and collective triumphs and struggles, and critically how the pandemic profoundly impacted political and social organizing by gays in the eighties and nineties. The biographer renders Hemphill and Callen with respect and grace just the way they should be.

This marvelous book, filled with surprising connections, will be read by activists everywhere and empower the future. A vivid, complex snapshot. Convert currency. Add to Basket.

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