How do we start an ACT UP chapter?
Answer: Just do it!

ACT UP chapters begin when a group of people in a city or region get together and form a group called ACT_UP/... (like ACT UP/New York, ACT UP/Golden Gate, ACT UP/Paris). Each chapter makes its own logo. Many use the standard one and add their own locality name below.

Ways to start a chapter are to put an announcement in a community paper, wheatpaste announcements, or word of mouth that a chapter is forming. At the first meeting talk about what projects you want to work on, what kind of structure you want to use, etc. It is best if the meeting is in a public place that is easily accessible by wheelchairs.

For examples of how ACT UP/NY is organized and useful direct action manuals, go to the documents section ( Download and distribute these documents!

See also: Media Training Seminar (
When you're sure that you really have a viable chapter, send a note to the ACT UP Network, currently organized by ACT UP/Philadelphia, and tell them so that you can be included in any network communications.

The ACT UP Network is not an administrative body. Each chapter operates autonomously. ACT UP/New York may be the first chapter, but it is not the "head" chapter.

While there is no means test, there are certain qualities that characterize an ACT UP chapter (using New York as an example).

ACT UP is a democratic, open group. We have no paid positions and no "president" - just rotating, elected meeting facilitators, treasurers, etc. All financial decisions involving more than $100 dollars, the use of the ACT UP name or logo must be authorized by a majority vote of the membership at one of the open, publicly advertised Monday night general meetings. Sometimes this means meetings are fractious, but a little drama is a good work-out!

ACT UP is committed to direct action as a means of ending the AIDS crisis. There are many activities surrounding AIDS. ACT UP does not do all of them. We are not a service provider; we do not provide medical treatment to individuals. While we meet with government and health officials to advocate for people with HIV and AIDS, we differ from typical lobby groups by our use of direct action, which ranges from street demos to acts of civil disobedience. AIDS is a medical emergency, but it is foremost a political crisis.

ACT UP is not a gay rights group. We are a coalition of diverse individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis. While the AIDS crisis is inextricably linked to homophobia (along with other modes of oppression) and a large number of our members come from the lesbian/gay/bi/trans communities, ACT_UP is about fighting AIDS. Often this works in conjunction with queer liberation, but our primary focus is the fight against AIDS. All the above, and even everything in the documents section, are far too little information. We will do everything we can to help inform and prepare you, but there is no substitute for the education gained in the process of doing action.

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