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New Book to Document Straight Women's AIDS Activism

Viki Noe and Peter Staley
Viki Noe with Peter Staley

Author Viki Noe will chronicle women's contributions in Fag Hags, Divas and Moms.

An author-activist is preparing a book on the largely overlooked role of straight women in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and she has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the project.

Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community, to be published in 2017, will fill a gap in the existing literature on AIDS, says Chicago-based author Victoria Noe.

“The history of the epidemic is overwhelmingly a reflection of the experiences of gay men,” she said in a press release. “I’m excited to offer a book that will recognize the contributions of straight women in the AIDS community.”

Noe plans to document the various reasons straight women became involved in AIDS activism and services. Some did so because gay men, particularly hard-hit by the epidemic, numbered among their friends, relatives, and colleagues. Some were doctors or researchers who decided to focus on AIDS. Still others had contracted HIV themselves.

She notes that this involvement took many forms: advocacy, direct care, research, fundraising, and support services. She plans to explore whether straight women paid a price for being associated with a stigmatized disease. And while famous women such as Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana will be in the book, she will chronicle the valuable contributions of many who are not well-known. (Anyone with suggestions for archives to research or women to interview is asked to contact Noe through her website,

Those who wish to support her work may do so through her crowdfunding campaign at Donors are eligible for a variety of incentives, including gifts from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, electronic and print versions of the book, and invitations to book launch parties. The book is also a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts, and all donations received by the foundation on its behalf are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Noe is the author of the Friend Grief series and winner of the 2015 Christopher Hewitt Award for Creative Nonfiction. Her work has been published in Windy City Times, the Chicago Tribune, and The Huffington Post as well as numerous grief and writing websites. Library Journal named her its first SELF-E ambassador in October. She began her involvement in the AIDS community of Chicago in the 1980s as a fundraiser, and she is currently a member of ACT UP/NY.


Full Disclosure: Plus magazine copy chief Trudy Ring, a longtime activist who authored this post, is a former colleague of Noe’s and (with our full blessing) may be interviewed for Fag Hags, Divas and Moms.

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