978 0 8223 5373 7 Pr

Sarah Schulman's book, "Israel / Palestine and the Queer International"

Update: On Friday, February 15 The Center ended their Moratorium on Israeli - Palestinian Gatherings. Visit: Gay City News for more info.

On Tuesday, February 12th, Visual AIDS held a panel discussion, Positive Assertions, at The LGBT Center in New York City. The event featured artists exploring the role positivity can play as a strategy for art, activism and living. Working with The Center's helpful team of staff, interns, and volunteers, the night was a success. There was a full room, engaging conversation occurred, and new understandings were shared about how change can happen for individuals and communities when assert ourselves, create safe spaces, and work though our discomfort.

And so it was with a saddened heart we heard the next day that writer, activist, and treasured public intellectual Sarah Schulman has been prevented from appearing at The Center. We have worked with Schulman before, most recently in distributing a film she co-produced, United In Anger: A History of ACT UP directed by Jim Hubbard.

According to sources, the reason for Schulman’s public shunning is her important work regarding the central role queers from around the world play, and can play, in creating peace, starting in Palestine. Who would want to censor such work? And why?

Working at the intersection of art, activism, and HIV/AIDS, we at Visual AIDS have no tolerance for censorship. It hurts art, it damages communities, and it kills people. Visual AIDS is part of a larger historical understanding, rooted in the truth that Silence = Death.

When an organization, which is understood to be serving a diverse and marginalized population, such as The Center, begins attempting to disallow diverse and marginalized voices from being heard, communities needs to ask, why does this organization exist? Who is it serving?

We at Visual AIDS value the idea of The Center and have friendships with many that work, volunteer and rely on The Center. We want The Center to matter, we need The Center as a place where celebrating, learning, challenging, loving and supporting can happen. We don't know what to do next? Is now the time for boycott? Radical engagement? Both? Something else? We look to the community for next steps. How do we want to proceed? How do we fight for our freedom to assemble? How do we ensure our cultural spaces can reflect progressive ambitions? What do we do when an organization attempts to dim one of our most enlightened minds?

As responses evolve, we urge our Visual AIDS communities to discuss censorship and The Center, freedom and Sarah Schulman, and ways to move forward. For more information, and to sign a petition please visit: End censorship of Sarah Schulman, Open doors to all queer people

If you have questions, ideas or comments please email Ted Kerr at tkerr@visualaids.org