The title may be immediately arresting for many, since the term “AIDS” now feels connected to a darker time when many a young, vibrant life was cut short, but AIDS Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman is meant to jar us back to those painful and pivotal years.
In fact, “AIDS diva,” “ex-drag queen,” “ex-IV drug user,” and “ex-high-risk youth” were all among Connie Norman’s self-descriptive terms. Now, 25 years after Norman’s death from AIDS-related complications, this new documentary is finally giving the fearless activist her due.
AIDS Diva follows Norman (pictured above center), a transgender woman living with HIV, as she faces her own mortality and grows into a pioneering activist with ACT UP/LA during the late ’80s and early ’90s. At the time, when even the queer community often ostracized trans people, Norman’s cries for justice often rose higher than the rest.
Since its premiere in August at Outfest, the Los Angeles LGBTQ+ film festival, AIDS Diva has garnered much praise and secured its place as one of the most important documentaries of the year. The film features rare archival footage of Norman as well as of fellow soldiers in the fight, including Harry Hay, Sheila Kuehl, and Larry Kramer.