Michael Bellefountaine’s Impassioned AIDS Activism

PPH910425

Michael Bellefountaine is carried away by police in an ACT UP Maine protest against AIDS and the Iraq War, Jan. 23, 1991.

Michael Bellefountaine is carried away by police in an ACT UP Maine protest against AIDS and the Iraq War, Jan. 23, 1991.

In honor of the outspoken, radical AIDS activist Michael Bellefountaine, who would have turned 49 today, ACT UP Archives is taking a look at some of his formative actions as a member of ACT UP Maine. Growing up gay in the small town of Gorham, in southern Maine, was difficult for Michael yet his rural background informed his activism. While many believed that the sun rose and set on ACT UP New York, Michael consistently strived to ensure that his message resonated with queer communities outside big cities.

Michael joined ACT UP in 1989 and cut his teeth on direct action activism traveling by bus to demonstrations in Boston and New York before helping to found a Maine chapter based in Portland. Among ACT UP Maine’s founding members was C.T. Butler who also co-founded Food Not Bombs. It was through his participation with Butler and Tess Ouellette that Michael became well versed in the use of consensus as a process of decision making for activist collectives.

PortlandPrideMarch

AIDS activist Michael Bellefountaine marches in Portland, Maine’s gay pride march circa 1990.

In the summer of 1991, thousands of ACT UP activists descended on the resort town of Kennebunkport where the family of then President George H. W. Bush had a summer home. Bush’s lack of attention to AIDS followed the same bigoted, murderous agenda of his predecessor Ronald Reagan. Michael was involved in the planning of what became one of the most well publicized actions in the history of ACT UP.

NYTI91090296122

The articles and photographs featured in this post are from Michael’s personal archive which contains a wealth of documentation from his decade and a half of impassioned activism whose dynamic and inspirational history will be explored further in future ACT UP Archive posts.

Portland Press Herald Jan. 24, 1991

Portland Press Herald Jan. 24, 1991

PPH910425

Portland Press Herald April 25, 1991

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BH910901

6 thoughts on “Michael Bellefountaine’s Impassioned AIDS Activism

  1. Pingback: Celebrating Ronnie Burk’s 60th Birthday | ACT UP Archives

  2. Maine’s capitol is of course Augusta, not Portland. Portland is by far the biggest city, though, and as someone who was there for the events described here I can affirm that it was very exciting to witness. Portland is now something of a gay Mecca but it certainly wasn’t back then. These were brave people.

  3. Pingback: Celebrating Michael Bellefountaine’s 50th Birthday and the Ebook Release of A Lavender Look at the Temple | ACT UP Archives

  4. Pingback: Poets Are The True Historians | Harold Norse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *