Outfest 2018: Queer Latinx screenings tonight

Connie Norman

Connie Norman, left, and Chuck Stallard march in protest in downtown Los Angeles circa 1991. Photo: Chuck Stallard.

LINCOLN PARK — Pioneering transgender activist Connie Norman described herself as an “ ex-drag queen, ex-hooker, ex-IV drug user, ex-high risk youth and current post-operative transsexual woman who is HIV positive.”

In early 1990s Los Angeles, Norman, who appointed herself “the AIDS Diva,” was a powerful voice for people living with AIDS and queer communities.

Her story is told in the documentary “AIDS Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman.” The film will be screened 7 tonight as part of Outfest’s Latinx screenings at the Plaza de la Raza in Lincoln Park. A series of Latin American shorts will follow the screening.

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Norman was outspoken, challenging, and compassionate.

She championed reform of federal AIDS funding formulas, better treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS. Norman also was a spokesperson for the confrontational group ACT UP/LA, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, international direct action advocacy group working to change legislation, medical research and treatment and policies for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Norman, who died in 1996 at the age of 47, also was a media pioneer.

In 1991, Norman started “The Connie Norman Show,” an evening talk program that focused on LGBTQ issues.

She also co-hosted a weekly cable television show and wrote the column “Tribal Writes” in the San Diego gay and lesbian newspaper Update.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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