ACT UP, Ball Culture, and the AIDS Crisis

people holding banner that reads ACT UP Shreveport AIDS coalition to unleash power

This lesson deals with Queer Community response to the AIDS crisis in the U. S. The Origins article was “A Century of HIV” by Thomas F. McDow. It explores the origins of HIV, where it stands today, and its complex history. We used this article to explore social change relative to AIDS and HIV in the Queer Community. Students will see document analysis modeled by the teacher as they explore the Ballroom Community and its responses to AIDS and HIV. They will then learn about ACT UP and other responses to the AIDS Crisis, using a Document-Based Question approach to explore the Origins article and other sources, seeking to address how the queer community in America turned fear of AIDS and lack of government intervention into opportunities for activism and progress. The students will then compose an argument about the relationship between the AIDS crisis and formal organization by the Queer Community and its allies. As an Exit Ticket, students will use current events research to address the question of how AIDS activists of the past helped shape the reality of those living with HIV today.

Instructional Strategies:

  • Inquiry-Based Instruction
  • Document-Based Questions

Lesson Materials:

Origins Content
Teaching Standard
Teaching Area
US History since 1877
Gender & Sexuality
Grade Level
Downloadable Files
ACT UP Ball Culture and the AIDS Crisis Lesson Plan.pdf
ACT UP Ball Culture and the AIDS Crisis DBQ Writing Organizer.pdf
ACT UP Ball Culture and the AIDS Crisis Sources.pdf
ACT UP Ball Culture and the AIDS Crisis Source Questions.pdf
ACT UP Ball Culture and the AIDS Crisis presentation.ppt