elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Paul Popham (October 6, 1941 - May 7, 1987)

Paul Graham Popham was an American gay rights activist who served as the president of the Gay Men's Health Crisis from 1981 until 1985. He also helped found and was chairman of the AIDS Action Council, a lobbying organization in Washington. He was the basis for the character of Bruce Niles in Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, which was one of the first plays to address the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Born in Emmett, Idaho, and graduated from from Portland (Oregon) State College.

He was a Vietnam War veteran, who was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in 1966, serving as a first lieutenant in the Fifth Air Cavalry. He retired in 1969 as a Special Forces major in the Army Reserve.

From 1969 until 1980, Mr. Popham worked for the Irving Trust Company, leaving as a vice president. Thereafter, he joined McGraw-Hill Inc.

He remained active in the Gay Men's Health Crisis organization and in the lobbying group until his illness, diagnosed in February 1985, became too severe. He died of AIDS related complications. His longtime companion was Richard Dulong.

AIDS Quilt

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Popham
Because Larry Kramer was so lacking in any ability to get along with his colleagues, much less his adversaries, no one ever considered him for GMHC's presidency. That job went to Paul Popham, a beautiful, closeted ex-Green Beret, who worried that his mailman would realize that he was gay if he saw an invitation for a fund-raiser with Gay Men's Health Crisis at the return address. Popham constantly battled with Kramer about tactics and substance. Later, Kramer admitted that he had been somewhat in love with Popham.
One of the first arguments between Kramer and Popham was over whether GMHC should tell its members to stop having sex altogether, or reduce the number of their sexual partners. Kramer was adamant that they should be warned, but Popham and rest of the board opposed the idea. What if it was determined that there was no infectious agent? Popham asked. Then GMHC would look ridiculous.
The infighting came to a head in April 1983, after Kramer had repeteadly accused Mayor Edward I. Koch of an inadequate response to the health crisis. After months of violent attacks from Kramer, the mayor had finally agreed to a meeting about AIDS with ten representatives of gay groups around the city. But the GMHC board refuses to send Kramer as one of its two envoys. Paul Popham was terrified of how Kramer might behave in a small meeting with the mayor. Kramer was stunned - and promptly resigned from the board. After that, GMHC rebuffed all of his subsequent efforts to rejoin the organization.
In the program notes for one of GMHC's earliest benefits, Paul Popham wrote, "I think the most impressive thing I've seen over the last year and a half is how affectionate men have grown. We are finding out who we are, what we can do under pressure. And that we're not alone... Although we're paying a terrible price, we're finding in ourselves much greater strength than we dreamed we had." --The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America by Charles Kaiser
Further Readings:

The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America by Charles Kaiser
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Grove Press (June 10, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802143172
ISBN-13: 978-0802143174
Amazon: The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America

ANew York TimesNotable Book of the Year and winner of a Lambda Literary Award,The Gay Metropolisis a landmark saga of struggle and triumph that was instantly recognized as the most authoritative and substantial work of its kind. Filled with astounding anecdotes and searing tales of heartbreak and transformation, it provides a decade-by-decade account of the rise and acceptance of gay life and identity since the 1940s. From the making ofWest Side Story,the modern Romeo and Juliet tale written and staged by four gay men, to the catastrophic era of AIDS, Charles Kaiser recounts the true history of the gay movement with many never-before-told stories. Filled with dazzling characters — including Leonard Bernstein, Montgomery Clift, Alfred Hitchcock, and John F. Kennedy, among many others — this is a vital telling of American history, exciting and uplifting.

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts
Paperback: 656 pages
Publisher: Stonewall Inn Editions; 1st edition (April 9, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312241356
ISBN-13: 978-0312241353
Amazon: And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic

By the time Rock Hudson's death in 1985 alerted all America to the danger of the AIDS epidemic, the disease had spread across the nation, killing thousands of people and emerging as the greatest health crisis of the 20th century. America faced a troubling question: What happened? How was this epidemic allowed to spread so far before it was taken seriously? In answering these questions, Shilts weaves weaves the disparate threads into a coherent story, pinning down every evasion and contradiction at the highest levels of the medical, political, and media establishments.

Shilts shows that the epidemic spread wildly because the federal government put budget ahead of the nation's welfare; health authorities placed political expediency before the public health; and scientists were often more concerned with international prestige than saving lives. Against this backdrop, Shilts tells the heroic stories of individuals in science and politics, public health and the gay community, who struggled to alert the nation to the enormity of the danger it faced. And the Band Played On is both a tribute to these heroic people and a stinging indictment of the institutions that failed the nation so badly.

Victory Deferred: How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America by John-Manuel Andriote
Hardcover: 494 pages
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (June 1, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0226020495
ISBN-13: 978-0226020495
Amazon: Victory Deferred: How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America

There is no question that AIDS has been, and continues to be, one of the most destructive diseases of the century, taking thousands of lives, devastating communities, and exposing prejudice and bigotry. But AIDS has also been a disease of transformation—it has fueled the national gay civil rights movement, altered medical research and federal drug testing, shaken up both federal and local politics, and inspired a vast cultural outpouring. Victory Deferred, the most comprehensive account of the epidemic in more than ten years, is the history of both the destruction and transformation wrought by AIDS.

John-Manuel Andriote chronicles the impact of the disease from the coming-out revelry of the 1970s to the post-AIDS gay community of the 1990s, showing how it has changed both individual lives and national organizations. He tells the truly remarkable story of how a health crisis pushed a disjointed jumble of local activists to become a nationally visible and politically powerful civil rights movement, a full-fledged minority group challenging the authority of some of the nation's most powerful institutions. Based on hundreds of interviews with those at the forefront of the medical, political, and cultural
responses to the disease, Victory Deferred artfully blends personal narratives with institutional histories and organizational politics to show how AIDS forced gay men from their closets and ghettos into the hallways of power to lobby and into the streets to protest.

Andriote, who has been at the center of national advocacy and AIDS politics in Washington, is judicious without being uncritical, and his account of the political maturation of the gay community is one of the most stirring civil rights stories of our time.

Victory Deferred draws on hundreds of original interviews, including first-hand accounts from: Virginia Apuzzo, Reverend Carl Bean, Marcus Conant, M.D., John D'Emilio, Anthony Fauci, M.D, Fenton Johnson, Larry Kramer, Lawrence D. Mass, M.D., Armistead Maupin, Walt Odets, Torie Osborn, Eric Rofes, Urvashi Vaid, Timothy Westmoreland, and Reggie Williams.

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Tags: activist: paul popham, eminent outlaws, gay classics, gay metropolis

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