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Queer reading: ACT UP's Staley is not silent in new book

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It was his Damascus Road conversion moment: March 24, 1987. A 26-year-old stockbroker for Morgan Guaranty in New York City, who was closeted about both being gay and having been diagnosed with AIDS-related complex a year and a half earlier, was on his way to work when he was handed a flyer announcing a MASSIVE AIDS DEMONSTRATION that morning in front of Trinity Church in the West Village, a block from his trading floor.One week later that stockbroker, Peter Staley, would attend his first ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) meeting and a year later "would leave my job on disability and devote what time I had left to the activism I had watched on TV that night," he writes in his new memoir, "Never Silent: ACT UP and My Life in Activism" (Chicago Review Press, $26.99).It gave him a reason to hope during a very dire time.

The book tells of his journey from closeted party boy and bond trader to his fight to stay alive with HIV. It is his insider's account of the internal dynamics and squabbles as a self-proclaimed "media whore" for ACT UP to his later battle with substance abuse.

He notes that even HIV-negative people are long-term survivors of those horrific years. The book surfaces just in time to commemorate the 35th anniversary of ACT UP's founding.Of that first meeting, he writes in the book, "While the cruising was fun, what smacked me in the face the hardest at that first, long meeting was a sense of community.

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