The 1981 Hiv / Aids Epidemic

Good Essays

The 1981 HIV/AIDS epidemic was a time of turmoil for the LGBT+ community due to the high transmission risk of HIV/AIDS between homosexuals (Richardson 5). Tension ran high within community, as different groups experienced different amounts of discrimination for their transmission risk. In particular, scholars find that “tensions between lesbian and bisexual women was much more problematic than tensions between gay and bisexual men” (Udis-Kessler 46). Despite the similarities of lesbian and bisexual women as non-heterosexual women, the two groups are politically divided instead of united. What discrimination, if any, did bisexual women receive from lesbian women as a result of the 1981 HIV/AIDS epidemic? What were the socio-political …show more content…

These two sexual identities are extremely similar but translate to vastly different experiences. Lesbians are the more prominent group in the LGBT community; they were far more visible in the media and established their own lesbian feminist organizations before the HIV/AIDS epidemic (Rust, “Neutralizing the Political Threat” 2). On the other hand, bisexual women lacked the support communities that lesbians enjoyed during the 1980s. Many organizations and colleges did not acknowledge bisexual existence until the late 1970s, when the letter “B” was added to the LGBT+ acronym (Hutchins 244). Evidence of tension between the two groups existed in the 1970s prior to the epidemic, where lesbian groups apparently regarded bisexual women as a political threat (Tucker 43).
At the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, lesbian and bisexual women had similar political standings. The literature published during this period was largely focused on men. The heterosexual and gay community was regarded as high risk for transmission, but sex between women was assumed by a majority of the medical community as having a low risk of HIV/AIDS transmission (Richardson 2). National censuses of HIV positive individuals gave homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual men each their own category, but all women were grouped into one large category (Richardson 9). The

Get Access