Scope and Contents
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
10 Linear Feet (31 boxes)
Language of Materials
Biographical / Historical
During his freshman year at Brown, Gendin tested positive for HIV, which sparked his lifelong commitment to HIV/AIDS activism. He was an early member of the direct action advocacy group, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), founded in New York in 1987. Gendin served on ACT UP/New York’s fundraising committee, and founded ACT UP/Rhode Island that same year. As a member of ACT UP, Gendin took part in a number of demonstrations and civil disobedience actions, and was arrested several times. Also in 1987, Gendin was selected as the youngest member of the executive committee of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. In 1989, Gendin established ACT UP’s Treatment and Data Digest, a pioneering newsletter designed to disseminate information on HIV/AIDS medications and treatments. That same year, Gendin completed a bachelor’s degree in religious studies at Brown. He later completed two years toward a master’s degree at the Union Theological Seminary.
During the 1990s, after a second large wave of HIV/AIDS infections impacted gay men, Gendin co-founded two advocacy organizations: the AIDS Prevention Action League (APAL), and Sex Panic!. These groups were formed largely in reaction to both mainstream political efforts and arguments within the gay community that promoted monogamy, the closing of sex clubs, and the demonization of public sex culture and promiscuity as the best ways to prevent HIV/AIDS. In contrast, these groups argued for the promotion of safe sex practices to prevent infection and against the shaming and marginalization of sexual practices that some considered deviant. During this time he also co-founded the Community Prescription Service, a mail-order business that sold FDA-approved prescription drugs to treat HIV/AIDS, in addition to disseminating information on new and upcoming treatments through newsletters and community forums.
Stephen Gendin achieved perhaps his greatest notoriety during the 1990s as a columnist for POZ Magazine, a publication devoted to documenting the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the lives of people affected by it. In his columns, Gendin wrote candidly about the struggles and indignities of living with and treating HIV and AIDS, and occasionally stirred controversy. Among Gendin’s most infamous columns were one in which he discussed his conflicted feelings about knowingly engaging in unprotected sex after having been infected with HIV, and another in which he fantasized about assassinating US Senator Jesse Helms.
Throughout his adult life, Gendin tried various treatments and medications for HIV/AIDS as soon as they became available, but eventually the particular strain of the virus that had infected him became resistant to all medications. Stephen Gendin died of complications due to AIDS-related lymphoma on July 19, 2000.
- Guide to the Stephen Gendin Papers
- compiled by Matthew Gorham
- September 2013
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository
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