06 Dec 2007 • 6,127 views
This is going to be the last trip back in time for now. But there's plenty more to share and I'll do it again sometime soon.
So here we are back in May 1989. The original photo was taken by Gordon Rainsford (I think, I'll have to check that).
I'm handcuffed to a revolving door. We're down Whitehall, in the HQ of the department of health and social security, just across the road from Downing street etc.
We were there to highlight the financial needs of people with HIV and AIDS.
This was part of a direct action by ACT-UP London (the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power). There were 4 of us who had handcuffed ourselves inside each quadrant of the door. The building's security had then decided to lock the door, preventing it from rotating. This meant that some of us were sealed in and every now and then the security would briefly unlock it and we'd take turns at getting access to fresh air.
This picture captures a moment when it was my turn to breathe.
ACT-UP London at that time was an incredibly active civil disobedience group and there is so much to say about it all that I'm not sure where to start. During my involvement I experienced my first public speaking experience (outside the South African embassy, during the days of apartheid and the nonstop picket. I spoke about the plight of people with HIV and AIDS in South Africa), I don't know how many times I lay down in front of traffic, or handcuffed myself to this or that (including to a chain stretched across westminster bridge), I was an elected chair at meetings, and I organised a 3 week fundraising benefit.
There'll be other self portrait days when I'll return to past ACT-UP direct actions and recount some of the internal dramas too.