As the self-appointed “AIDS DIVA” and masterful spokesperson for ACT UP/LA in the late 80s and early 90’s Los Angeles, Connie Norman described herself as “ex-drag queen, ex-hooker, ex-IV drug user, ex-high risk youth and current post-operative transsexual woman who is HIV positive” and simply “a human being seeking my humanity.” 

Standing proudly in her multiple, fluid and evolving LGBTQ identities, she was often a lone advocate for the fledgling trans community of that era. Both beloved and confronting, Connie’s soulful and salty rantings and intersectional politics were heard widely through her local LGBT newspaper column and her pioneering LGBTQ cable television talk show. Fueled by the urgency of her mortality and the hard-won honesty and clarity her survival had required, Connie challenged self-hatred, hypocrisy and denial, as she evoked a humanitarian, neighborly, transcendent vision of life and love for our tribe and us all.

 

She served as a bridge, in both gender and politics, - from ACT UP/LA to the Radical Fairies, to right-wing talk shows to Sacramento policy meetings to her marriage to gay husband Bruce - and challenged us to confront what it means to be a woman, a man and ultimately a human being.  Modeling ‘wokeness’ in an earlier era of crisis, Connie’s piercing and compassionate voice, through these rare vintage video clips, leaps into the present, urging us again to wake up, to take action, and to fully engage with our collective lives and our world.

Photo: Chuck Stallard