32 years ago I walked in to my first display of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and cried harder and longer than I ever had in my entire life. As a stranger came and hugged me for a full ten minutes I thought about how many men in our lives we would lose to AIDS and how they would not be with us to dance and celebrate as we grew older.
One year later I went to my employer of 6 years and asked for an 8 week leave of absence to go on tour with the AIDS Memorial Quilt traveling to 8 cities in 8 weeks taking the Quilt and its message of need, hope and love to Tampa, Miami, Birmingham, Austin, Oklahoma City, Rochester, Philadelphia and Portland. In every town we met families, lovers, friends and health care workers who were experiencing first-hand the pain, loneliness and devastation of the illness. Each panel of the Quilt places in front of you a name, photos and reminders of a person and you experience a connection with the person who died from AIDS.
The New York Times in June 2020 ran the names of all the people thus far who had died of COVID-19 and I was reminded of the names on the Quilt that turned a statistic into a person.
The devastation of AIDS is still impacting many today, particularly people of color and I implore you to please donate to the AIDS Walk SF which continues to support those individuals with HIV/AIDS. Thank you so much.