As the self-appointed “AIDS Diva” and masterful spokesperson for ACT UP/Los Angeles in the late 80s and early 90s 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 and deeply through her local LGBTQ newspaper column, Tribal Writes, and her pioneering LGBT cable television talk show program.
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Fueled by the urgency of her mortality and the honesty and clarity her survival had required, Connie challenged self-hatred, hypocrisy, and denial, as she evoked a humanitarian, neighborly, transcendent vision of justice, freedom, and love for the LGBT tribe and for us all.
Connie served as a bridge, in both gender and politics, between many worlds — 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 action, to wake up and engage fully with our lives and our world.
“AIDS Diva: The Legend of Connie Norman” will screen at Cinema Diverse, the Palm Springs LGBTQ Film Festival Sept. 18 and 23. For other future screenings, check out the film’s website.