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Remembering Judy Kristel

Fall/Winter 2000

Judy Kristel, dyke warrior and fierce AIDS activist, passed away November 6th of pancreatic cancer. I remember Judy in the Rose Parade action of 1989, the action which brought the parade to a screeching halt to bring attention to the rising death toll in the AIDS crisis. This was done by a coalition group working under the name SANOE (Stop AIDS Now Or Else). Because of the hostility of the crowd and the police, this was the scariest action I had ever been involved in. Chained and locked together, Judy, myself and other AIDS activists were dragged down the street by the police. Then the bolts on our locks were cut loose. Judy, myself, and one other person were plastic-cuffed and thrown into the back of a police car and driven to an empty isolated lot. I was scared; we all were as they pushed us out of the car and made us kneel down beside a gutter. We communicated our fear and support with silent glances to one another.

It was almost with relief that we entered Sybil Brand, the women's jail. In the booking area we watched as a group of nuns in full habit entered singing Christmas carols. The sight of this was so ludicrous that we all wanted to laugh, but only Judy had the ability to let loose and howl. With this, the guards pulled her away from the group and, while surrounded by both male and female guards, stripped and cavity searched her. They were punishing her, and trying to humiliate her for her bold act of self-expression.

Some people may try to glamorize the hardships and abuse that one can experience while making a stand for a cause. But often, they have no idea what it's really like. This wasn't the first time, nor the last time, that Judy had been hurt, but she had a strength of character that not many could match. She was earnest and sincere about the many social causes and yet was always ready to play. Her humor and sense of fun helped lighten the political effort despite having personal knowledge of the price we sometimes pay.

we will not rest in peace

We will never forget Judy's thoughtful and caring manner, along with her sweet sense of humor. Her humanity, involvement and passion for AIDS and queer street activism is an inspiration to us. For future activists in all progressive movements dedicated to creating positive change in our world communities, Judy would thank you. We are better off for having known Judy Kristel, she fought for us, and she will be missed.

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This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.
 

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