Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist




AIDS and Women's History Month

AIDS and Women's History Month
Feb 22, 2017 by Victoria Noe

It’s no secret that I’m writing another book. What began as a nagging thought turned into an idea that has taken on a life of its own. Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community overwhelms me occasionally – if you define ‘occasionally’ as ‘at least once a day’.

I’ve always felt these were stories that needed to be told: how straight women around the world have been an important part of the AIDS community since the beginning of the epidemic. But a random comment from a colleague a few weeks ago opened my eyes to something much bigger.

I was telling her about the book and she said “It’s like Hidden...

How Can You Write at a Time Like This?

How Can You Write at a Time Like This?
Feb 01, 2017 by Victoria Noe
A lot of writers I know have been struggling these past few months. Their fears about the future are on display, in their online posts and in their writing. Anxiety is rampant. So is insomnia. The news of the past two weeks has only heightened their concerns.

They are a diverse group: men and women, all the major religions, every race and generation. They live in the US and other countries. They write fiction and nonfiction, memoir and science fiction/fantasy, poetry and children’s literature.

And every one of them seems to be asking themselves the same question: How can you write at a time like this?

Writing almost seems superfluous, a luxury we can’t afford. We have to keep our eye on the...

Who Tells Your Story?

Who Tells Your Story?
Jan 24, 2017 by Victoria Noe

“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” – Hamilton: An American Musical

The best movie I’ve seen in a long time is Hidden Figures, the story of the African-American female mathematicians who helped NASA put men in space. I’m old enough to remember the Mercury astronauts and when a space launch was reason to gather your family around the TV. Everyone we ever saw in the NASA control rooms was a white man. So when the movie – and book by Margot Lee Shetterly – were released, the most common reaction was “I never knew that.” The second most common reaction was “Why haven’t we heard this story before?”

Hidden Figures is not the first book or...

A Bump in the Road

A Bump in the Road
Nov 02, 2016 by Victoria Noe
Ugly, isn't it?

This week's blog post is short but not so sweet.

The first week of my trip to New York was amazing. I attended a panel discussion that included Kelsey Louie, Executive Director of GMHC (Gay Men's Health Crisis) and one of its founders, Larry Kramer. I heard another panel speak on the narrativization of AIDS in the dance community.

I interviewed ten amazing women who you'll meet in Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community. 

I launched my Indiegogo campaign to support the book. I was on a roll.

And then I wasn't.

On Saturday I tripped and fell, breaking two fingers. Had surgery to insert 5 pins that will be removed in a month. I'm...

The Next Stage for My Next Book

The Next Stage for My Next Book
Oct 26, 2016 by Victoria Noe
I'll be there this week interviewing women for the book.

I’m back…in New York, that is. The last couple trips here I was doing research for my next book, Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community. I’m on a first-name basis with the research librarians at the New York Public Library (5th Avenue and Lincoln Center). They’ve been a great help to me: “That tape is out for digitization, but I took the liberty of pulling the transcript for you.”

This trip marks the next stage for the book. I’m not done with the research; not by a long shot. But between previous visits here, research online and at the U...

"Are You Straight?" - Researching My Next Book

"Are You Straight?" - Researching My Next Book
Aug 10, 2016 by Victoria Noe
NYPL Library for the Performing Arts

All of the Friend Grief books required research. I knew I couldn’t rely only on personal interviews because there were some celebrities I wanted to include, as well as people I could not travel to meet. Truth be told, I like doing research. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I find what I’m looking for. I get really jazzed when I uncover a gem.


But this next book…well, the research is on a whole different level.

Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community looks at the contributions of these women through the 35 years of the epidemic. I made a few decisions early on that...

Women's History Month - Andrea Johnson

Women's History Month - Andrea Johnson
Mar 29, 2016 by Victoria Noe
Andrea Johnson

My final guest blogger for Women’s History Month is Andrea Johnson. As is often the case, we’ve never met IRL (in real life) but our paths have crossed. She found out she was HIV positive in 2007, when she was tested after learning of her ex-husband’s affair. Isolated and depressed, she made the decision to devote her life to reaching out to women most at risk or living with HIV. You will not find a more passionate advocate.


“How do I LOVE a woman living with HIV without acquiring HIV?”

It’s a question I get all too often from men that are HIV negative that find out a woman he may be interested in is HIV positive,...

Women's History Month - Eileen Dreyer

Women's History Month - Eileen Dreyer
Mar 22, 2016 by Victoria Noe
Eileen Dreyer

I’ve known Eileen Dreyer since the Beatles were still together, so that’s a long time; in fact, we saw them perform. While I was raising money for AIDS organizations in the late 80s and early 90s in Chicago, she was on the front lines in St. Louis. The anger is still there, as it is for many of us. Her story continues Women’s History Month:


I hadn't realized how angry I still was until I watched The Normal Heart. Seething angry, unresolved angry. Wishing there were someone I could scream at angry. Because I was there. I saw the beginning of the epidemic. And I'm not sure I'll forgive us for how we faced it.

I worked...

Women’s History Month – Rosa E. Martinez Colon

Women’s History Month – Rosa E. Martinez Colon
Mar 15, 2016 by Victoria Noe
I had to go Washington, DC for the US Conference on AIDS last September to meet the amazing Rosa E. Martinez-Colon. If she looks familiar, it’s because we led a lively discussion on women and AIDS on World AIDS Day at Women & Children First bookstore in Chicago. This is her story:

I remember the first time I heard about AIDS was around 1984 or so; I was still living in Puerto Rico. A neighborhood friend who was an injection drug user died after a short stay in the hospital. The rumor spread rapidly that he had “died of AIDS” – “se murió de SIDA”. Soon after, a couple other neighbors died as well; coincidentally they were either sexual partners or...

Women's History Month - Nancy Duncan

Women's History Month - Nancy Duncan
Mar 08, 2016 by Victoria Noe
Nancy Duncan

For Women’s History Month I’m sharing stories from women in the AIDS community. First up is Nancy Duncan, who I had the pleasure of meeting through ACT UP/NY. She is long-term survivor, an inspiration and a friend. My thanks to her for sharing her story.


Being a heterosexual woman in the early days of HIV/AIDS was very different than now. I’m 58 years old and have been living with HIV for going on 31 years. I was first diagnosed in 1990, infected by having unprotected sex with a man who didn’t know he was HIV+. I’d walked around for five years not knowing because I had no symptoms.

I didn't know anyone else who was living with...

Time for an Update!

Time for an Update!
Jan 26, 2016 by Victoria Noe
It’s time for a bit of an update: First, I’ve set a tentative release date of April 12 for the final book in my series, Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes. I’m very pleased with the way it’s shaping up and I think you will be, too. If you subscribe to my weekly newsletter, you’re eligible to receive a free copy. Just sign up in the upper right hand corner of this page. Once that’s released, the entire Friend Grief series of six books will be available in a bundle. I have two events coming up in February. In Chicago I’ll be presenting “Public Speaking for Shy Authors” for the Chicago Self-Publishing Meetup Group. I’m also one of the speakers for “The Library...

Putting 2015 to Bed

Putting 2015 to Bed
Dec 22, 2015 by Victoria Noe

In the newspaper world, “putting to bed” means finishing something and moving on to the next level. Today is my final blog post of 2015, so I thought it was appropriate to put the year to bed and look ahead, too.

You probably make a list of resolutions each New Year’s, only to realize the list is largely undone by the time Christmas rolls around again. I know that’s true for me. Sometimes we’re overly optimistic; sometimes we’re delusional. And sometimes life just gets in the way.

This year marked a few serious changes of direction, most of them planned and thought-out. I committed to changes in my marketing: increased public speaking and more deliberate involvement in the...

Friend Grief and Men (ACT UP Edition)

Friend Grief and Men (ACT UP Edition)
Dec 15, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Jim Eigo receiving his award from Stephen Spinella

One of the men you’ll meet in the final book of my series – Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes – is Jim Eigo.

When I walked into my first ACT UP/NY meeting almost three years ago, Jim was the guy who waved me over to an empty chair in the circle. That kindness morphed into a friendship I treasure.

He has a long resume, which I’m sure was recounted when he was honored at Treatment Action Group’s (TAG) Research in Action Awards on Sunday night in New York. Playwright, editor, writer, activist: words that cannot convey the depth of his talent and commitment to fighting the epidemic that is now...

CrowdFunding Isn't Only About Money

CrowdFunding Isn't Only About Money
Dec 08, 2015 by Victoria Noe

My own crowdfunding campaign began this time last week on RocketHub, to support research expenses for my book Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community. So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far:

  Running a crowdfunding campaign is hard work. I knew, thanks to the detailed training materials from RocketHub and New York Foundation for the Arts, that a lot of planning goes into a successful crowdfunding campaign. I took time to set up the campaign itself – timeline, incentives, etc. – and began posting on social media before it began. Every day I thank donors on the site, as well as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and various pages...

World AIDS Day - And A Big Announcement

World AIDS Day - And A Big Announcement
Dec 01, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Bus shelter poster, 1991

Dec. 1, 1988. I was in London, at a performance of The Secret of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke. At the curtain call, Brett made a speech about that being the first World AIDS Day. The ushers passed around collection buckets for donations to AIDS service organizations in London. What a concept, I thought: the whole world thinking about AIDS.

Over the years I’ve spent World AIDS Day conducting fundraising events, attending religious services, discussing issues. Tonight I’m leading a conversation on women and AIDS – how women were treated at the beginning of the epidemic and where we are now - at Women & Children First Bookstore in Chicago.

Today is also...

Why This Writer is Thankful

Why This Writer is Thankful
Nov 24, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Washington Square Park

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and for the first time, I’m spending it in New York. I decided to combine a research trip for my 2017 book Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community with a chance to cross something off my life goals list (sounds better than bucket list, doesn’t it?). So on Thursday morning, I’ll be watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person with my family. That opportunity has me thinking about what else I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving, related to my writing.




Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room, NYPL

I’m grateful for research librarians. I’ve always loved school and public librarians, but research librarians...

Friends Helping Friends

Friends Helping Friends
Oct 06, 2015 by Victoria Noe
As promised last week, I have another new announcement related to my new book project, Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community.

Last week I unveiled a new Facebook page dedicated to that book. Yeah, I know: the book itself won’t be out until 2017. I figure it will be about a year before I finish research and begin to write. So why open up a new page now?

Well, as I’ve found here in this blog and other social media platforms, people are interested in the process of writing a book. Sometimes they’re readers who are curious about what goes into writing a book. Sometimes they’re writers who are curious about how other writers...

Ghost Friends

Ghost Friends
Sep 22, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Looks like the car I saw.

It happened again.

It’s probably happened to you, too.

I was walking towards the elevators at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC, between sessions at the US Conference on AIDS. For some reason, in the crush of people, one man caught my eye.

I gasped. It was someone I used to work for, except it wasn’t possible: that guy died over twenty years ago.

One of the men I interviewed for my next book, Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes, talked about seeing ghosts. When he walks down certain streets he’s transported back to when his friends lived and worked there, men who have been dead for decades.

The conference felt a little like that anyway....

Sometimes Your Calling Chooses You

Sometimes Your Calling Chooses You
Sep 15, 2015 by Victoria Noe
Last week I spent four days in Washington at the US Conference on AIDS. I’ve attended single-day conferences and meetings in the AIDS community over the years. But the last time I attended a multi-day conference was also in Washington, DC. It was an advocacy conference where we were lobbying for the authorization of the first Ryan White Care Act, now 25 years old (and in danger of being defunded, but that’s another story). The theme of the event was “The Numbers Don’t Lie: It’s Time to End Disparities”. We heard a lot about how the South represents 1/3 of the population of the US, but 50% of those living with HIV or AIDS. We witnessed a powerful #TransLivesMatter demonstration during...

Straight Women in the AIDS Community

Straight Women in the AIDS Community
Sep 01, 2015 by Victoria Noe
With my assistant, Steve Showalter, at the first Chicago House gala, September, 1990

Next week I head to Washington, DC for the US Conference on AIDS, Sept. 10-13. I’ve never attended it, but it promises to be an intense few days. I’m looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues and making new ones, in part because of what I’m about to share with you.

I’ve already announced the final book in the Friend Grief series – Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes – will be out late this year (or January, depending on how it goes). While I work on that, I’ll be starting another project: bigger, more complex, and loosely related to what I’ve already written. That’s...