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Grant number like: FT-254487-17

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Catherine P. Batza
University of Kansas, Lawrence (Lawrence, KS 66045-7505)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2017 – 8/31/2017

Local and Regional Responses to AIDS in the American Heartland during the 1980s and 1990s

A book-length historical study of local and regional responses to AIDS in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the early AIDS crisis, the Heartland became a cultural and political battleground over sexuality, morality, and citizenship. The disease inspired the sick, their families, and LGBTQ people to fight AIDS and the homophobia it fueled; without this tragic impetus, many would have stayed closeted, remained apathetic, or left the region. Most LGBTQ historical scholarship depicts the Heartland as inspiring an LGBTQ exodus, a foil to coastal cities, or a backdrop to sexual secrecy. As the first in-depth historical study of AIDS in the Heartland, this work recasts the region as an important site in national AIDS history. An NEH Summer Stipend would fund research and the writing of chapter 2, which unearths local responses to early AIDS and serves as the bedrock for the argument that the respectability politics most resonant and effective in the politically and religiously conservative Heartland deeply shaped the initial AIDS response and the national LGBTQ political agenda for a generation.