George Severs

We’re delighted to welcome George Severs as our latest Placecloud expert.

George is a PhD student researching a history of HIV/AIDS activism in England c. 1982-1997. His work aims to recover the history of radical AIDS activists, such as the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in England, as well as exploring the ways in which the broader AIDS movement functioned. George is an active oral historian, serving as Secretary to the Oral History Society’s LGBTQ special interest group (or ‘SIG’), and as a Public History Editor on the Editorial Board of Oral History.

George will be publishing 5 viewpoints next week:

Australian embassy 

This viewpoint will introduce listeners to the demonstration which took place at the Australian embassy in 1989 to protest the country’s ban on HIV positive people entering the county. 

Pentonville prison

Pentonville Prison was the site of a tandem protest in 1989. ACT UP London and ACT UP Manchester were protesting HMP’s refusal to allow condoms and safe sex information to be distributed among inmates despite a worrying rise in HIV transmission rates in British and Irish prisons at the time. The protests were among ACT UP UK’s most memorable: helium-filled condoms attached to safer-sex paraphernalia and information were floated over the prison walls at Pentonville and at Strangeways in Manchester.

Heaven Nightclub (ACT UP tour) 

Heaven is a landmark of gay life in London for many reasons, but this viewpoint introduces listeners to the ACT UP tour which singer Jimmy Somerville undertook in the early 1990s. The tour ended with a large concert at Heaven and overall raised six thousand pounds for ACT UP chapters across Britain. The viewpoint will also discuss Somerville’s AIDS activist music, introducing listeners to the idea of an activist soundscape in late-twentieth century London.

Positively Women Offices

This grand Georgian building on Clerkenwell’s Sebastian Street was home to the offices of Positively Women, the flagship British HIV-positive women’s organisation which was founded in 1987. The viewpoint will introduce listeners to the women-centred HIV/AIDS activist movement: this was a global movement and London acted as its centre until the late-1990s. 

Texaco HQ, Knightsbridge

Texaco became the centre of a major controversy at the end of the 1980s and into the 1990s when they began demanding that new would-be employees undertake HIV tests. The company then refused to employ anyone who refused to take the test or who tested positive. AIDS activists, especially ACT UP London, were outraged at this policy and staged protests at the company HQ in London as well as at Texaco petrol stations across the country. These protests lasted for years, attracting comment in the House of Commons and condemnation from nursing unions.

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