Posted by: Claudia Willett
Did you know that in 1994, the AIDS Action Committee sued the MBTA for unlawful censorship of a subway campaign featuring the use of condoms? Seems hard to believe, but you can read all about it in our Archives and Special Collections, which has received a donation of new material from former AIDS Action Committee Director Thomas McNaught (1991-1996).
This donation adds to the existing AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts Records in the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections.
While processing the new materials I noticed the photo of Captain B. Careful on the Boston Common. It stood out for a few reasons. His sheer ingenuity for costume design. The huge smile on his face even though it was noticeably cold outside.
Less tangibly his image stood out to me because he symbolizes a continuity in Boston’s legacy of advocating for the power of knowledge and striving toward equal rights and opportunity for all.
In 1992, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts (AAC) introduced New England’s first public service television AIDS prevention campaign directed at gay men.
They also launched the United States’ first statewide transit campaign for AIDS awareness by placing condom posters on 437 buses throughout Massachusetts ultimately leading to a legal battle with the MBTA.
Highlights of the collection include:
- photographs and press
- outreach material regarding the condom campaign
- materials on the AAC’s education and prevention campaigns
- documentation regarding the AAC’s lawsuit against the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) for unlawful censorship of a subway campaign featuring the use of condoms in 1994