February 2, 2015 – New York, NY – On Saturday night, activists from the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP) gathered outside the Waldorf Astoria at a gala sponsored by Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to honor Fortune 500 corporations.
Activists kicked things off with a pizza party and rally across the street from the Waldorf.  Fifty activists attended in below-freezing temperatures to challenge HRC to do more in the fight against HIV.  ACT UP members slammed HRC for not including any mention of HIV in their yearly Corporate Equality Index.  They also demanded that HRC appoint an HIV liaison to the AIDS community.
One activist spoke about ACT UP’s critical role in the Plan to End the AIDS Epidemic in NY State by 2020 and how HRC could assist in lobbying Governor Cuomo for the budget to fund the Plan.  Another ACT UP member addressed HRC’s silence on the dire situation of homeless LGBT youth in NYC and their elevated risk of HIV infection.

After the rally, protesters moved across the street and picketed the entrance of the Waldorf while surrounded by 20 members of the NYPD and Waldorf security.  As well-dressed same-sex couples exited taxis and limousines

to enter the Waldorf, they were met by ACT UP members chanting among other things, "HRC fight HIV, like the leaders that you claim to be."

After 30 min of picketing, members raised a giant sign over the sidewalk reading, "Dear Gay Inc., HIV Is Gayer and Younger than Ever" while chanting to incoming guests.

Protest at HRC Gala in NY

Earlier in the day, there were solidarity protests criticizing HRC in two other cities, San Francisco and Washington DC.  Approximately twenty-four activists held signs and chanted outside the HRC Store on Castro St. in San Francisco.  Among other things, activists demanded that HRC address the lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area.

San Francisco HRC Protest

 Later in the afternoon, Washington DC activists redecorated the entrance to HRC’s headquarters by replacing HRC’s  logo of the “=” sign with one of a slash through it dripping with pink slime.  The pink slime represented the practice nicknamed “pinkwashing” whereby corporations with policies and practices that undermine people's well-being are given positive publicity in exchange for maintaining LGBT-friendly workplaces. 

Pinkwashing Protest at HRC DC HQ

“It was exciting to see activists from around the country challenge HRC in unison to demonstrate its commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS among other issues,” said activist Andy Velez.

About ACT UP: Founded in 1987, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), is a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis. ACT UP meets every Monday night at 7pm in New York City at the LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street off 7th Ave.        @actupny

Media:   James P Robinson  917.578.3384  

Brandon Cuicchi  646.284.2948

Melanie Nathan (SF) – commissionermnathan [at]