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Ovation: The NAMES Project AIDS Quilt – 25 Years Later.

02/22/2012

I feel old today.  I participated in the 1987 March on Washington for LGBT equality.  It was one of the most liberating days of my life.  To be surrounded by thousands of LGBT people that were seeking nothing but the same happiness and freedom that I wanted, was truly a celebration.  I met people from across the country that understood my life.  They understood my feelings and my struggles.  They understood ME.

And it was also a very sad day because, for the first time, I met people that had lost loved ones to AIDS.  While I was learning about who I was, what I wanted and how I needed to live, I met people that had already found their answers.  I met men and women that had found the deep love that I so desperately wanted, needed and deserved.  They had found it and lost it before I had discovered exactly what it was.  And they memorialized their lost loves via The NAMES Project AIDS Quilt which was displayed for the first time.

Each quilt panel is 3’by 6’, the approximate size of the average grave, and is arranged with similar panels into 12’ by 12’ sections called blocks.  The quilt is warehoused in Atlanta when not being displayed and continues to grow.  Currently, it consists of more than 46,000 individual memorial panes representing over 91,000 people and it weighs an estimated fifty-four tons.  Sadly, it is said that the quilt represents only about 20% of the people lost to AIDS related causes.

Twenty-five years later, the world has changed dramatically and those of us who were there in 1987 have a unique appreciation of those changes.  While the spread of HIV/AIDS has slowed and treatments, including expensive antiretrovirals, can slow the course of the disease, there is still no known cure or vaccine.

So much has changed since 1987.  I’m confident that even more change is on the way.  Hopefully, in my lifetime.

Copyright © 2012 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com
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From → Ovations

8 Comments
  1. Wow – what a fantastic quilt. I never knew that it was the size of a grave plot. So sad that all these years later and with the advancement of medicine, there is still no cure.

    I was 14 in 1987 and got swept up in the drama and rumors of the disease. I’m not sure if you remember that.

    Gosh, 91,000 people and that only represents 20%…

    Thought provoking post.

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  2. The last time i saw the quilt was when we lived in Miami. It never ceases to amaze me that just walking around those panels, reading names, quips and quotes could move me so quickly to tears.

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  3. Inspiring and uplifting! What a wonderful day that must have been! A single intensified day of belonging and being truly understood. And I had no idea about the quilt panels being the size of graves. But then, I’m always learn something new when I read one of your posts! 🙂

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    • It really was a wonderful day. I’ll never forget it. (I got to play the piccolo solo from “Stars & Stripes Forever” in front of the Capitol Building!) (And I got a bad sunburn!)

      Thanks again for the kind words. You inspire me.

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      • A piccolo solo of Stars and Stripes Forever in front of the Capitol Building? Does it get any better? I don’t thinks so! 🙂 You inspire me too!

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  4. My Grandmother made one of those sections for my Uncle who passed. She and my sister even went out to DC for the dedication. We have come so far, yet there is so much further to go in fighting this terrible epidemic.

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