August 4, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Pioneer: Connie Norman

Scan 37
ACTUP/LA, AIDS Diva Connie Norman marches along Wilshire Boulevard protesting the1991 AB 101 civil rights bill veto by Goveror Pete Wilson. Photo by Karen Ocamb

BY KAREN OCAMB  |  “That’s Big Red over there. The tall one with the red hair,” one of a gaggle of Christian women said almost fondly, spotting Connie Norman among the ACT UP protesters outside Rev. Lou Sheldon’s March 1991 “Heterosexual Symposium” in Anaheim. They had no idea Norman was a transgender Texas run-away and self-described “AIDS Diva” or that her rage often poured out IN ALL CAPS in her column for the gay San Diego newspaper Update.

Diagnosed with HIV in 1987, Norman railed against the Reagan-Bush administrations, the FDA, the California government and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors for their persistent failure in helping people with HIV/AIDS as many in the marginalized community fought against the inevitability of an ugly AIDS death.

“She had a mouth on her. Thankfully it was connected to a mind. And she was a she; on many occasions I heard her say, ‘I paid $50,000 to be who I am and I get to pick my pronouns.’ She picked her battles, too,” said David Reid, her producer for the commercial talk radio show “The Connie Norman Show,” that briefly aired daily on XEK-AM on a signal out of Mexico. One of her guests was Orange County homophobe KDOC talk show ranter Wally George – and the two actually got along in their own strange way.

“I often tell people that I am an ex-drag queen, ex-hooker, ex-IV drug user, ex-high risk youth, and current postoperative transsexual woman who is HIV-positive,” Norman once said. “I have everything I ever wanted, including a [gay] husband of 10 years, a home and five adorable longhaired cats. . . . I do, however, regret the presence of this virus.”

The Director of Public Policy at AIDS Service Center in Pasadena, Norman believed PWAs had to “very aggressive, assertive” advocates for their own healthcare, with a sense of ironic humor. “I’m taking 13 pills a day. And I smoke marijuana. But the core of my medical treatment plan, more important than any of the drugs, is what I call ‘Get A Life,’” she wrote in a 1995 essay for POZ Magazine.

Connie Norman died in July 1996 at age 47 after being cared for at the Chris Brownlie Hospice, a facility she helped fight for with the AIDS Hospice Foundation. Her ashes were scattered on the White House lawn during ACT UP’s “Ashes Action” on October 13, 1996.

In 2007, Norman was remembered as part of the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance by the blogger LIBHOM, who argued that society’s failure to prevent AIDS deaths was just as actively violent as a deadly trans-bashing.

“I remember her as ‘Momma Connie.’ She was constantly taking care of young activists at demos, and she always had so much to teach to anyone who wanted to learn,” the blogger wrote. “Most of all, I learned that no matter how righteous an activist’s anger is, that anger is based on love. We can never forget that we are motivated most of all by love for people who aren’t treated fairly or humanely in this world.”

Related Posts

Inclusive Pregnant Man Emoji May Be Coming To Software Updates

July 26, 2021

July 26, 2021

More inclusive emojis may be coming to future software updates, including one of a pregnant man. A “pregnant man” and...

WeHo Asking For Community Input On Naming Request to Rename the West Hollywood Library

July 26, 2021

July 26, 2021

The City of West Hollywood is conducting a community survey to solicit public input about a naming request to rename...

PReP, The HiV Prevention Pill, Free

July 26, 2021

July 26, 2021

Insurers have been advised that they shouldn’t be charging for Truvada and Descovy as HIV prevention and that associated clinic...

Trans Incident At Wi Spa May Have Been Staged

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

On June 24th an Instagram user “cubaangel” posted a video of herself angrily confronting a staff member at the Wi...

Los Angeles LGBT Center Vaccinates Trans and Non-Binary Community Members

July 14, 2021

July 14, 2021

The Los Angeles LGBT Center has made it its mission to vaccinate the  trans and non-binary  community in a safe...

Gaywatch: Back To The Beach

July 14, 2021

July 14, 2021

On Saturday July 10th Venice Pride hosted Gaywatch: Back To The Beach, a queer dance party at the only gay-owned...

“Gayest Episode Ever” An LGBTQ+ Podcast

June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021

Gayest Episode Ever is an LGBTQ+ podcast hosted by journalist Drew Mackie and screenwriter Glen Lakin. The podcast looks at...

WeHo Poet Laureate Reviews LGBTQ Documentray “Senior Prom”

June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

West Hollywood poet Laureate, RENT Poet founder and author of “The Poetry of Strangers: What I Learned Traveling America with...

Dogdrop’s List Of LGBTQ+ Pet Accessories

June 20, 2021

June 20, 2021

Dogdrop, a queer owned dog daycare in Los Angeles, is highlighting a list of LGBTQ+ pet accessories for Pride month. ...

Backstreet Boys & *NSYNC Partner Up For “Bingo Under The Stars” Pride Event At The Grove

June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

On June 18th The Grove hosted “Bingo Under The Stars” as a charitable Pride event at The Grove’s Level 8....

Drag Filled Cocktail Event At the Beverly Center

June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

On June 17th Beverly Center and The Webster hosted a private cocktail event with some of the city’s brightest LGBTQ+ stars. ...

Beverly Center Pride Celebrations For Pride Month

June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

Throughout Pride month from June1st – June 30th the Beverly Center will honor the LGBTQ+ community with its long-standing PRIDE...

WeHo One City One Pride Kick-Off

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

On Saturday, May 22, 2021 the City of West Hollywood kicked-off its One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival.  A...

Pride Poets Poetry Hotline This Weekend

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

West Hollywood’s poet laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace and the Pride Poets team will be writing free custom poems this weekend in...

Buzzfeed’s Docuseries “The Andrea Mares Project”

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

BuzzFeed’s As/Is presents “The Andrea Mares Project,” a docuseries that shadows Andrea Mares, a trans-feminine Latinx, as she embarks on...