The AIDS Quilt Online
July 26, 2012 12:49 PM   Subscribe

So, back in 1987, I went to the GLBT march on Washington, DC. This was back when the quilt was a very new thing, and the entire thing could be displayed on a small section of the National Mall. In fact, I'm pretty sure this march was the first public display of the quilt.

I hadn't heard of the quilt before. So my first experience with the project was wandering across to where it was laid out and having no idea what it was. I remember walking among the panels and quickly realizing what it was, and I wept.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:01 PM on July 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

I wish it was searchable...I'd like to send a link to my sister so she can see the one she made for her dad.
posted by schyler523 at 1:08 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:12 PM on July 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

I wish it was searchable...I'd like to send a link to my sister so she can see the one she made for her dad.

You can search the quilt at the the Quilt's website. This is the first time you can zoom out and see the whole thing.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:13 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

The very first panel, created by Cleve Jones for his friend Marvin Feldman.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:15 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I started at the main page, which is about mid-way in terms of distance, and played around with zooming in on a couple of the panels.

Then went away and did something else. And then clicked back, and thought, "hey, let me zoom out and see what the whole thing on one page looks like."

And so I zoomed out.

And out.

And out.

And out.

And out.

And realized why I had to keep zooming out and got a sick feeling in my gut.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:15 PM on July 26, 2012 [11 favorites]

None of those people deserve to have died like that. Each one of those tiles represents a loss from which the world will never recover.

I am overwhelmed with sadness.
posted by Avenger at 1:16 PM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

I remember walking among the panels and quickly realizing what it was, and I wept.

The only time I saw a section in person was in about 2001, and I wept also. The linked page is loading in the background, and I know that as soon as I look at it I will start crying, again.
posted by Forktine at 1:17 PM on July 26, 2012

I saw it in 1999 when my sister spoke at the dedication in Columbia, MO. It was very quiet there, except for the little breaths that accompany soft crying.

Btw, the search engine is broken for me. *sigh*
posted by schyler523 at 1:22 PM on July 26, 2012

Actually, I first saw a section in about 1994 or 1995, and then again in 2000 or 2001. For me, it is totally wrenching to look at these. So much love.
posted by Forktine at 1:24 PM on July 26, 2012

"Ryan White. 12.6.1971 - 4.8.1990. Loving son, brother, friend. Wise beyond years."
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:26 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

My dear friend Richard Lee Remley's panel (the red one in the center)

NYC Gay Men's Chorus old panel.

The more updated panel travels with the Chorus, and has more than 90 names on it, including the names of my friends Scott A. MacIntosh, Morgan Rice and Fred Goldhaber.. The graphic of the quilt piece if the NYC skyline (pre-9/11), and has each member's name in a star. If two members of the chorus on the quilt were together, their stars are touching.

Fred's star touches two other stars, husbands lost to AIDS.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:34 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's one panel missing.

In 1988, the NAMES project revealed a quilt that was (literally) anonymously left on their doorstep. It simple reads "THE LAST ONE," meant to commemorate a hopeful eventual end to the AIDS epidemic -- for the very last victim. It will be the last panel added to the quilt.

The panel was revealed for the first time in public this week. Let's hope we can stitch it in soon.
posted by schmod at 1:44 PM on July 26, 2012 [11 favorites]

roomthreeseventeen, thanks for the link to the article on Fred Goldhaber. Sounds like an extraordinary guy.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:48 PM on July 26, 2012

"I am angry and frustrated almost beyond the bound my skin and bones and body and brain can encompass. My sleep is tormented by nightmares and visions of lost friends, and my days are flooded by the tears of funerals and memorial services and seeing my sick friends. How many of us must die before all of us living fight back?

"I know that unless I fight with every ounce of my energy I will hate myself. I hope, I pray, I implore you to feel the same.

"I am going to close by doing what Dr. Ron Grossman did at GMHC’s second Open Forum last November at Julia Richman High School. He listed the names of the patients he had lost to AIDS. Here is a list of twenty dead men I knew:

Nick Rock
Rick Wellikoff
Jack Nau
Donald Krintzman
Jerry Green
Michael Maletta
Paul Graham
Harry Blumenthal
Stephen Sperry
Brian O’Hara
Jeffrey Croland
David Jackson
Tony Rappa
Robert Christian
Ron Doud

"And one more, who will be dead by the time these words appear in print."

-- Larry Kramer, "1,112 and Counting," New York Native, 14 March 1983
posted by blucevalo at 1:52 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

schyler523, the link roomthreeseventeen posted didn't work for me, either, but when I went in through the front page, it worked. ("Experience the Quilt")
posted by small_ruminant at 1:54 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

roger ackroyd, you can watch this as well. Freddie was a great guy and I miss him dearly.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:55 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thanks small_ruminant. Does anyone know how the grid is organized so I can find the block in the context of the whole thing?
posted by schyler523 at 2:02 PM on July 26, 2012

Here's some home video of an unfolding of the quilt on the National Mall in DC (timestamped 1992), with Sweet Honey in the Rock's beautiful "Patchwork Quilt" as the soundtrack.

posted by argonauta at 2:03 PM on July 26, 2012

Thank you, Microsoft.
posted by ericb at 2:08 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend watching the Academy Award winning documentary 'Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt' (Narrated by Dustin Hoffman with a musical score written and performed by Bobby McFerrin).

BTW -- one of those who is featured in the film is activist, film historian and author Vito Russo (July 11, 1946 – November 7, 1990) . Currently, on HBO is a new documentary about him: 'VITO' (a documentary by Jeffrey Schwarz).
posted by ericb at 2:20 PM on July 26, 2012

schyler523, I tried to find my uncle's block in the whole thing and it said it hadn't been indexed yet, but they were working on it. So it might just not be there yet.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:23 PM on July 26, 2012

But basically, I searched by name, found it, clicked on it, and then there's a link below the picture that says "find on map."
posted by small_ruminant at 2:24 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

The latest Nature podcast (July 26 2012) has a segment called 'Smoking Out HIV'. It's about research to find something to get at the non-expressing, latent/dormant viruses. (Segment starts just after 13:50)

The across-the-board benefits of research to find a definitive cure will give definite meaning to all this heartbreak.
posted by Twang at 2:35 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I looked at a travelling section of the quilt with friends when it came to my college. Because we were young and clever we felt above the sentiment and were very archly solemn. I know we nudged each other meanly over some of the panels and I know we discussed earnestly afterwards what we would like on our own, God forbid.

All of us who were there are 40 now and not so clever anymore, except for one, who'll always be in his 20s. His panel is homely and sweet and I still can't believe we lost him.
posted by Biblio at 3:24 PM on July 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

I was honored to be a documentation volunteer for several days at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival this year, where we had a section of the Quilt as the centerpiece of one of the Festival's aspects. The morning I went out to take photos as the panels were laid out was pretty overwhelming -- the volunteers doing the work were not solemn, exactly, but you could tell they took their job seriously and were very respectful. Then someone told me that the Quilt, if laid out completely, would cover the entirety of the Mall, plus a full block over in either direction. It got... a little dusty out there as I walked around the Quilt later on.
posted by Shotgun Shakespeare at 4:44 PM on July 26, 2012

Thank you - I saw a portion of the quilt in the latest 80's, I didn't make it very far before I collapsed in tears. The loss... oh, gods, the horrible loss. (oh, yeah, and FUUU Reagan!)

I'll share the link with my friends, but I can't go look at it myself. I'm already weeping just reading about the quilt.
posted by _paegan_ at 4:51 PM on July 26, 2012

Each one of those tiles represents a loss from which the world will never recover.

You (and the quilt) reminded me of this, from Byron's Childe Harold Canto III (talking about the war dead):
And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on:

E'en as a broken mirror, which the glass
In every fragment multiplies; and makes
A thousand images of one that was,
The same, and still the more, the more it breaks;
And thus the heart will do which not forsakes,
Living in shattered guise, and still, and cold,
And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches,
Yet withers on till all without is old,
Showing no visible sign, for such things are untold.
posted by yoink at 5:44 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know the guy who did this! He tested the link on my phone to see if the zoom was Android-compatible!

...and it looks like not so much, still. But this is great, I have to go tell him.
posted by psoas at 6:50 PM on July 26, 2012

This is so poignant.
posted by caddis at 7:40 PM on July 26, 2012

So, back in 1987, I went to the GLBT march on Washington, DC.

Hey, I thought you looked familiar!

I cried a ton. A nice volunteer silently passed me a box of kleenex.

I almost posted this yesterday; this one's better. Thanks.
posted by rtha at 8:52 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you Microsoft.
posted by newdaddy at 9:28 PM on July 26, 2012

I found one person I knew. For having been out since 1970, when I was 13 years old, I have not known many AIDS victims. It's a combination of age and my rather un-social ways. So many people close to me were older and less likely to be off getting infected. I myself am living proof of how difficult it is to catch that virus. I moved to NYC in 1981 and had fairly wild times (to make up for lost time in Michigan). I even got hepatitis, but not HIV.

But all that to say, I was there when the party was winding down. But when I morn over AIDS, I also morn for the loss of those good times when all you needed was a mutual attraction, and nature did the rest. No problems, no consequences of any import. Just good fun. Indeed, the gay part of being Gay.
posted by Goofyy at 2:29 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I guess that's one way to compete with Google Fiber....
posted by novalis_dt at 2:00 PM on July 27, 2012

It took me only a few minutes to find the first panel I made.

I walked into a storefront in 1987 and asked what the sewing machines and fabric were for. Cleve Jones was in the middle of the space and explained the project. I immediately went home and made a panel for Alphonse De Laura, the bartender at The Sausage Factory on Castro Street where I hostessed before I graduated from nursing school in 1981, just in time to see the epidemic begin. Over the next few years I was an AIDS hospice nurse and made more panels for friends and clients. Too many.
This is a beautiful use of the internet and I will take my time to look through the site.'

Stepping through that storefront door seems like a long time ago and like yesterday...
posted by Isadorady at 2:28 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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