Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

A Second Edition? Why?

May 05, 2024 by Victoria Noe, in AIDS , HIV , women's history

As I was finishing my latest book, What Our Friends Left Behind: Grief and Laughter in a Pandemic last summer, I began to consider the ever-present question: ‘what’s next?’ I had no lack of ideas: some that had been percolating for years, others that were new possibilities. But one kept nagging at me, in a good way.

I published F*g Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community in March, 2019. After writing for years about friend grief, it might have seemed a change of pace. I’d already written one book about the AIDS epidemic, but I knew that someday I’d do a deeper dive. A panel discussion in April, 2014 about the women of ACT UP/NY gave me that initial push: to tell stories of cisgender straight women around the world who changed the course of the epidemic. With the exception of a handful of memoirs, they were missing from the narrative of HIV/AIDS. I decided to write what one person described as ‘Hidden Figures for the AIDS epidemic’. And so I did.

The response was gratifying and inspiring. It was a #1 Amazon New Release, and a finalist for Literature of the Year at A&U magazine. That publication also put me on their cover, and the book was featured on blogs as well as a variety of HIV/AIDS-related publications. I spoke on the topic and featured women in the book at my book launch events. 

Then COVID hit. I was on the road for the one-year birthday of the book when everything shut down. Months of planning evaporated in about three days. Still, I was able to continue talking about the book online and in print; it was a while before I did any in-person events. Five years later, I still get inquiries about these amazing women.

I suspected when I wrote the book that I would want to create a second edition at some point. While there are 101 women in the book from around the world, I’ve always been dissatisfied with the lack of diversity. That was due in large part to the focus on early HIV/AIDS organizations started in the 1980s, which tended to be led by white women. Leadership roles for women of color were hard to come by back then. 

Like everything else, a lot has changed since 2019. There is long overdue focus on long-term survivors and lifetime survivors (‘dandelions’: people who have lived with HIV since birth). Worldwide, 53% of the 39 million people living with HIV/AIDS are women and girls. Vibrant women are making a difference, women who came into the community after the antiretroviral cocktail was introduced in 1996. They are younger, they are women of color, and they are fierce.

So those are the women I will be interviewing for the second edition, with a goal of adding 50 new stories. Some of the existing stories will be updated, but the focus is on these younger women of color. I could not be more excited.

One thing hasn’t changed since the first edition: these stories need to be told.


F*g Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community  - second edition, coming Summer, 2025. 


To recommend a woman to be interviewed, or for media and sponsorship inquiries: