Honoring the Life of Andy Velez, ACT UP Co-Founder and Longtime HIV Activist

Senior Editor
Andy Velez at the 1991 International AIDS Conference in Florence, Italy, protesting a U.S. policy that had barred the entry of people living with HIV.
David Williams

Andy Velez, longtime Latino HIV activist and writer, died at 80 years old May 14 at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York City.

I didn't know Andy Velez well. But in my 20 years of living in New York City, I don't think I ever attended a rally, civil disobedience, or march where Andy wasn't present. And even if I didn't see him, his distinctive voice was recognizable in any room. I remember being a young person with FIERCE, an LGBTQ youth of color organization, in the early 2000s, and Andy being present and supportive of many of FIERCE's early organizing efforts.

Andy had many careers -- from actor to therapist, writer, and publisher, to activist and organizer -- having been a founding member of ACT UP, Queer Nation, and also having worked with Treatment Action Group. The Washington Blade has published a great obituary, and many testimonials are coming in from friends, colleagues, mentees, and comrades from across the world through social media.

But it's probably best to let Andy speak for himself. Here's a 2018 interview of Andy with Blaine Stevens, which is probably the best way to become familiar with his work and life.