elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Aldyn Mckean (1948 - February 28, 1994)

Aldyn McKean, a singer and actor who was an advocate for gay rights and the rights of people with AIDS, died on February 28, 1994, at his home in Manhattan. He was 45.

The cause was AIDS-related complications, said Denny Lee, a spokesman for the AIDS protest group Act Up.

For the last five years Mr. McKean was a frequent spokesman for Act Up, representing that organization at international AIDS conferences and on national television.

He also pressed for more and better studies of long-term survivors with the virus that leads to AIDS.

He appeared in the film "Voices From the Front" and performed in the Broadway production and national tour of "The Robber Bridegroom."

Born John Baldwin McKean, he was raised in Lewiston, Idaho. He came to New York to do graduate studies at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and completed his studies in 1975.

He was a member of the Harvard University class of 1970 and served a tour of duty in Vietnam.

On March 4, 1994, a funeral procession accross 14th Street to Union Square Park took place to honor Aldyn Mckean. They brought a sign reading: "A Great Hero In The Fight To End AIDS
Honor His Life -- Take Action"

"I am a person with AIDS and I am gonna fight to get what I need."

"Why are hospitals being closed in Harlem when the biggest need to improve health care exists right there? Why are there no research efforts being done into issues that affect women in particular when there's such a crying need? Why do we not have services that can support people who are poor and homeless -- and prevent them from having to eventually land in an emergency room where there is a group of people who are overwhelmed by people needing health care? All of these issues tie together. Why is the United States one of only two industrialized countries that has no health plan?"

"So, there I was supposedly debating Anthony Faucci -- head of NIAID -- and Louis Sullivan -- representing the Bush administration, the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Yet Louis Sullivan would appear on that program only under the condition that my microphone not be on while he was speaking. The fact that our Secretary of Health and Human Services does not recognize that 300,000 is the number of AIDS deaths in the United States is indicative of how high on the agenda AIDS is for the medical establishment in this country. It is appalling."

" Yet the person who drew the biggest reaction on the opening day of the conference --the 1993 Berlin International Conference on AIDS-- was not Merson nor Fauci nor the German president nor any other suit-clad official. He was Aldyn McKean, a 44-year-old sharp-tongued AIDS activist from New York, who was invited unexpectedly to the podium during the opening session by conference Chairman Karl-Otto Habermehl, a German virologist. Although McKean's name was not on the program, ACT UP-New York had been negotiating with Habermehl for a year for the right to speak. Habermehl relented Monday morning. Wearing jeans, a T-shirt and two small gold earrings in his right ear, McKean announced to the assembled crowd: 'I am a proud queer, an AIDS activist and a person with AIDS.' To the scientists in the audience, McKean pleaded: "Please help us. We have been screaming for six years. Nobody cares about another AIDS activist demonstration anymore. The answer is for scientists and researchers to stand up once in a while and say: 'Yes, they (activists) are right. They need to be paid attention to.' "

"The world's leaders in the fight against AIDS received a powerful reminder of what's at stake here. A funeral at the International AIDS Conference [1994, Yokohama, Japan]. The ashes of activist Aldyn McKean become dust in the wind over Yokohama Harbor. He died of AIDS in February. A year ago, McKean did the talking. At the Berlin AIDS Conference, he called for tearing down the walls that block scientific and social progress. ALDYN McKEAN: One of the most hideous of those walls is the wall that is erected against people with AIDS who attempt to travel or immigrate to countries, such, unfortunately as my own, the United States of America."

"From the beginning of AIDS activism, people with AIDS have been saying that there is a need for a broader range of research into this disease. Focusing attention on people [who] are living long term with HIV is something I've been screaming about for some five years now." The apparent shift in the direction of research efforts, McKean adds, "is, at least in part, a result of hard work over the last few years by ACTUP."

"What we as a movement have to be about is targeting specific issues that we can go out there and fight for -- and win. Because it is when you fight and win that people begin to understand that a radical analysis is correct and that civil disobedience and direct action work."

Source: http://www.actupny.org/diva/polfunsyn.html

Further Readings:

A Generation Divided: The New Left, the New Right, and the 1960s by Rebecca E. Klatch
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (October 20, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0520217144
ISBN-13: 978-0520217140
Amazon: A Generation Divided: The New Left, the New Right, and the 1960s
Amazon Kindle: A Generation Divided: The New Left, the New Right, and the 1960s

The 1960s was not just an era of civil rights, anti-war protest, women's liberation, hippies, marijuana, and rock festivals. The untold story of the 1960s is in fact about the New Right. For young conservatives the decade was about Barry Goldwater, Ayn Rand, an important war in the fight against communism, and Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). In A Generation Divided, Rebecca Klatch examines the generation that came into political consciousness during the 1960s, telling the story of both the New Right and the New Left, and including the voices of women as well as men. The result is a riveting narrative of an extraordinary decade, of how politics became central to the identities of a generation of people, and how changes in the political landscape of the 1980s and 1990s affected this identity.

More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics

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Tags: activist: aldyn mckean, gay classics

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