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Queer Moments in Harm Reduction

Early homophile activism
Vancouver and Toronto, 1964
With the publication of the homophile magazine Two in Toronto and the foundation of the Association For Social Knowledge (ASK) in Vancouver, same-sex Canadians start to publicly assert that “gay is good.”

The Denver Principles
Denver, 1983
Years before any treatments existed, people with HIV issue a bold manifesto of self-empowerment. It begins: “We condemn attempts to label us as ‘victims,’ a term which implies defeat, and we are only occasionally ‘patients,’ a term which implies passivity, helplessness, and dependence upon the care of others. We are ‘People with AIDS.'”

Advent of protease inhibitors
1996
After years of pressure from groups like ACT UP for improved AIDS treatment, the first protease inhibitors are released. These drugs — which interfere with HIV’s replication process — have reduced the harm of HIV in people’s lives. The struggle continues to get them in the hands of all people around the globe who need them.

Meal Trans program
Toronto, 1998
A weekly drop-in for lower-income and street-involved trans people, Meal Trans serves as a springboard for many other trans programs, from youth groups to a committee on shelter-access issues. First spearheaded by TS/TG sex workers, the program is peer-operated by and for trans people.

Crystal meth and harm reduction: Hi My Name is Tina
Toronto, 2005
Crystal meth users, former users and health advocates unite to form the Gay/Bi Men’s Crystal Meth Task Force, conducting community meetings and launching a website focussing on meth, sexuality and harm reduction.

Queer activism for safer crack use
Ottawa, 2007
Queers and allies vow to fight for crack-kit funding. Says the AIDS Committee Of Ottawa’s Nicholas Little: “This is a life and death issue for substance-using, disenfranchised queer youth. Six to 12 HIV and hep C transmissions a year were being prevented by this program.”