In 1989, when I wrote the paper that comprises this blog post, AIDS was still regularly in the news, though most Americans wrongly perceived it as a “gay disease.” Among most lesbians, it was a social/political issue about which some were active. It remained an urgent transmission and educational problem facing gay men. HIV that progressed to full-blown AIDS was a death sentence. “Safe sex” hadn’t permeated the lexicon.
Now, AIDS is “just” one of many sexually transmitted infections kids [should] learn about in health class. First world citizens who have access to the necessary drugs can live with not only HIV but also AIDS. Nonetheless AIDS still kills. Education is still critical. The NAMES Project’s AIDS Memorial Quilt lives on not only in physical form but also virtually; their web application leads to images of Quilt panels.
Here is a look back at the Quilt as a public ceremony, soon after its creation, through a paper I wrote for a graduate course in Public History [What is Public History]. Continue reading The NAMES Project Quilt as a New Public Ceremony, 1989