Uncommon Threads: The AIDS Memorial Quilt Comes To DC

For gay men old enough to have seen its genesis, the AIDS Memorial Quilt is a beautiful and terrifying thing: Each 3′ by 6′ panel is a personalized memorial, crafted with love and honor. But each of those squares is also a stark reminder of the human toll the epidemic has taken.

That’s the power of The NAMES Project: It’s not about mind-boggling statistics, it’s about 48,000-plus individuals—boyfriends, husbands, daughters, lovers, friends. And its power might get through to the gay men who came of age without a malignant shadow creeping over their shoulder.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt was begun in 1987 by Cleve Jones—who got the idea at a memorial march for Harvey Milk—along with Mike Jones and a group of volunteers. At that time the stigma against AIDS was so high that many who died from the virus didn’t receive proper funerals: Some had been spurned by family and friends but in other cases, fearful funeral parlors would refuse to accept the corpse of an infected person.

Try to imagine what that’s like: Having to cart around your husband’s dead body because no one will bury him. It’s not a coincidence that each of those panels is the size of a grave.

The quilt was last shown in full in 1996, when it blanketed the National Mall. Since then, it’s grown exponentially: Now more than 1.3 million square feet around, or about 29 acres, it’s too big to be put on view as a single installation. So when it’s displayed in Washington, DC, July 21-25—in conjunction with the AIDS 2012: The 19th International AIDS Conference—some 4,800 panels will be divied into “blocks” and shown at dozens of locations around the city.

More than 35,000 panels will be brought together on the Mall, where their impact will be enormous.

But will it? Are we too far removed from the days when new panels were added every day? When members of the LGBT community went to more funerals than weddings? Don’t get us wrong: We’re thrilled that’s becoming less and less of a reality. But we’re worried too many of us are complacent—or even ignorant: Earlier this year, AIDS Quilt Touch—an app that would organize and display the entire quilt, square by square, failed to make its KickStarter goal. (A new campaign on IndieGoGo has only 9 days left and is almost $20,000 shy of its $25,000 target.) For now, you can search the AIDS Quilt Touch website, which allows users look up panels by name, leave comments and triangulate a location on the Mall next month.

We saw the quilt back in 1996, and we’ll see it again this summer. It’s a pilgrimage everyone should take, especially younger gay men.

This is our Holocaust and we must never forget.

Click through for images of panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

8,000 Quilt panels are on display at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as part of “Creativity and Crisis: Unfolding The AIDS Memorial Quilt” through July 8. Visit for information.


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  • Mike in Asheville

    Wow, so many comments about Matt Bomer, Magic Mike, Oreos, latest pride pictures, Tyler Clementi’s parents, and where are the ones about the AIDS quilt?

    Kind of reminds me when HIV/AIDS raised its ugly head when the first handful of activists were shunned at SF Pride (1982-84; probably in NYC too but not sure), HIV+s were kicked to the street by their gay roommates, how funeral homes wouldn’t handle the dead….

    Cleve Jones, a true hero.

  • Making up stuff is fun!

    @Mike in Asheville: You’re actually equating the early days of the AIDS epidemic to … lack of comments on an AIDS quilt post?

  • Hyhybt

    @Mike in Asheville: What is there to *say* about it?

    Why do you imagine that the number of comments an article gets ought to correspond to the significance of its content?

  • Mike in Asheville

    @Making up stuff is fun!:

    Perhaps you two are of the the next generations who did not lose dear friends to this dreaded disease, didn’t witness their suffering, didn’t experience the stigma and dehumanizing that so many of us did.

    Here at Queerty there are post after post baiting outing, baiting hairy v. smooth, baiting pro and anti bi and pro and anti trans, and on and on.

    My dismay is the apparent lack of interest in a story about a critically important aspect of the movement from the world of politics and the general public in the acceptance of gays and lesbians as [hope to be] equal participants in our American society. The AIDS Quilt brought an awareness of the humanity, loss of humanity, created by the disease, brought a sympathy and understanding from those who just a few years before didn’t bother to be concerned about their fellow man. Sure the many bigot are out in force, but they are fewer and they receive less and less support. What Cleve Jones accomplished with the AIDS Quilt as a project is a part of our history worthy of note and distinction.

    My comment references the time before when apathy caused great hurt among our own and my hope that that type apathy not return. So, Making Up Stuff, I am not equating anything, I am saying an apathy to take from our daily lives to be apart of our community causes harm, great harm. And Hyhbt, yes, I do imagine the a story of significance should raise a significance to response; alas, I am apparently wrong.

  • Jack

    I’m used to Queerty being insensitive and unintelligent, but this takes the cake so much that I have to say something. “This is our Holocaust” is insulting not only to victims of the Holocaust, but also to people who died of HIV/AIDS. No one persecuted us with HIV. We were reckless. Those who died from HIV/AIDS were not victims of anything but high risk activity. The AIDS Memorial Quilt should be viewed by everyone, especially young gay men, because it is a reminder that we need to value ourselves highly enough to protect ourselves because no one else will. To try to compare it to the Holocaust is insulting, degrading, and tacky–even by Queerty’s low editorial standards. Dan Avery’s attempt at drama is instead creating hurt. Well done, Dan.

  • Hyhybt

    @Mike in Asheville: WHY do you expect a correlation between discussion length and topic importance? Nobody disagrees with anything you said about the significance of the quilt (except that I strongly disagree with your claim that being of a younger generation or saying there’s simply not much to say about the subject beyond what’s already in the article means not caring about it or recognizing it as meaningful or anything even REMOTELY along those lines.)

  • Dagny T

    @Jack: So the early deaths from blood transfusions & being born were due to ‘risky behavior’?? That is probably 1 of the most insensitive things I’ve ever read.

    I live in DC, & plan on visiting the Folklife Festival, where the Quilt is displayed, at least 3 times. & I’m not even gay (or a man!).

  • LandStander

    “This is our Holocaust and we must never forget”

    Uhh, wasn’t the Holocaust kind of “our Holocaust” too….?

  • the other Greg

    @LandStander: Right! How about, it is our (1) Armenian genocide, (2) Cambodian genocide, (3) Rwandan genocide, take your pick.

  • Jack

    @Dagny T: Dagny, we both know the majority of infections belonged to our community. And by Dagny, I mean Dan Avery. Transparent much?

  • Michael Bedwell


    You’re just overflowing with Dumb Ass Bullshit today aren’t you?

    1. I have no real sympathy for those who became infected after it was widely known that the virus was sexually transmitted. BUT there is no question that the majority of those who died in the early years—which were, in fact, the greatest numbers—had been infected LONG BEFORE anyone even realized there WAS a then-mostly fatal virus period in 1981.

    2. Though the Hebrew Shoah (????) might be better given its definition of “calamity” versus the Greek origin of Holocaust referring to burnt sacrifice, i.e., something done by someone, in either case, the colloquial understanding as genocide is both grammatically and sociopolitically valid because of the way the Reagan Administration unquestionably were willing to LET gays die. Let’s recap:

    From a 1982 White House press briefing held by Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speakes:

    Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?
    MR. SPEAKES: What’s AIDS?
    Q: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as “gay plague.” (Laughter in room.) No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?
    MR. SPEAKES: I don’t have it. Do you? (Laughter in room.)
    Q: No, I don’t.
    MR. SPEAKES: You didn’t answer my question.
    Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President …
    MR. SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter in room.)
    Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?
    MR. SPEAKES: No, I don’t know anything about it, Lester.
    Q: Does the President, does anyone in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?
    MR. SPEAKES: I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s been any …
    Q: Nobody knows?
    MR. SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.
    Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping …
    MR. SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he’s had no – (Laughter in room.) – no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.
    Q: The President doesn’t have gay plague, is that what you’re saying or what?
    MR. SPEAKES: No, I didn’t say that.
    Q: Didn’t say that?
    MR. SPEAKES: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn’t you stay there? (Laughter in room.)
    Q: Because I love you Larry, that’s why (Laughter in room.)
    MR. SPEAKES: Oh I see. Just don’t put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter in room.)
    Q: Oh, I retract that.
    MR. SPEAKES: I hope so.
    Q: It’s too late.

    From a 1984 White House press briefing:

    Q: An estimated 300,000 people have been exposed to AIDS, which can be transmitted through saliva. [sic] Will the President, as Commander-in-Chief, take steps to protect Armed Forces food and medical services from AIDS patients or those who run the risk of spreading AIDS in the same manner that they forbid typhoid fever people from being involved in the health or food services?
    MR. SPEAKES: I don’t know.
    Q: Could you — Is the President concerned about this subject, Larry —
    MR. SPEAKES: I haven’t heard him express–
    Q: –that seems to have evoked so much jocular–
    MR. SPEAKES: –concern.
    Q: –reaction here? I — you know —
    Q: It isn’t only the jocks, Lester.
    Q: Has he sworn off water faucets–
    Q: No, but, I mean, is he going to do anything, Larry?
    MR. SPEAKES: Lester, I have not heard him express anything on it. Sorry.
    Q: You mean he has no — expressed no opinion about this epidemic?
    MR. SPEAKES: No, but I must confess I haven’t asked him about it. (Laughter in room.)
    Q: Would you ask him Larry?
    MR. SPEAKES: Have you been checked? (Laughter in room.)

    Reagan would later award Speakes the Presidential Citizens Medal, second only to the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


    Despite a “National Review” article claiming that “Reagan proposed at least $2.79 billion for AIDS research, education, and treatment” between fiscal 1984 and 1989, and that Congressional proposals brought the total spent to $5.727 billion during his reign, there is the fact of his total lack of funding proposals during the epidemic’s first three years when it was continuing to be spread as so many people couldn’t grasp that, no, it wasn’t just homophobic propaganda, sex could, now, lead to death. As documented by Randy Shilts in And the Band Played On, there were 1,100 FDA employees immediately assigned to work on the 1982 Tylenol scare, and millions of dollars spent by the FDA and CDC on it when only 7 people died versus the 260 already dead from AIDS, and nearly 400 more diagnosed.

    “[A Congressional Research Service] report found that in 1982 the National Institutes of Health’s research on toxic shock syndrome, a mystery that by then had been solved, amounted to $36,100 per death. NIH Legionnaire’s [Disease] spending in the most recent fiscal year amounted to $34,841 per death. By contrast, the health institute had spent about $3,225 per AIDS death in fiscal 1981 and $8,991 in fiscal 1982. By NIH budget calculations, the life of a gay man was worth about one-quarter that of a member of the American Legion.” – Shilts

    THE “JOKE”:

    FROM HISTORIAN MICHAEL BRONSKI: Nine months AFTER the death from AIDS of their Hollywood acquaintance Rock Hudson, the Reagans attended a nationally televised rededication of the cleaned-up Statue of Liberty in July 1986. A part of the evening’s “entertainment” was Repug comedian Bob Hope. He said:

    “I just heard that the Statue of Liberty has AIDS but she doesn’t know if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or from the Staten Island Ferry.” “As the television camera panned the audience, special guests French President & Mdm. Mitterand] looked appalled. The Reagans were laughing. By the end of 1989 and the Reagan years, 115,786 women and men had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States, and more than 70,000 of them had died.”


    Writing in the “Washington Post” in late 1985, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, stated: “It is surprising that the president could remain silent as 6,000 Americans died, that he could fail to acknowledge the epidemic’s existence. Perhaps his staff felt he had to, since many of his New Right supporters have raised money by campaigning against homosexuals.”

    “The Reagan administration has done its best to avoid making even a single helpful AIDS decision in the eight years of the Reagan presidency.” – Congressman Henry Waxman. Beginning in 1982, the year after the first cases were identified, Waxman convened the first of over 30 hearings in the Health and Environment Subcommittee to raise public awareness and secure government funding in the fight against AIDS.

    Reagan daughter, Patti Davis, once told The Advocate: “[My parents] think [being gay is] abnormal. I certainly don’t think they feel that whatever someone’s sexual preference is, is OK. They think that God made men and women to make love and any variation on that theme is in some way blasphemous.” For whatever reason, she later painted a totally opposite picture, but [in addition to his and Nancy’s reaction above to Hope’s AIDS “joke” in 1986] her father’s own words in a March 1980 interview with the “Los Angeles Times” is unequivocal:

    “I think [homosexuals] do and should have [the same civil rights] but that my criticism of the gay rights movement is that it isn’t asking for civil rights, it is asking for a recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I not believe society can condone, nor can I. [Reporter: “For religious reasons?”] Well, you could find that in the Bible it says that in the eyes of the Lord this is an abomination.”

    “I think it’s criminal that it’s taken this long for this government to face up to the AIDS crisis.” – Discharged gay Air Force TSgt. Leonard Matlovich, “Good Morning America,” 1987.

    After Reagan wrote with crocodile tears about the death from AIDS of teenage hemophiliac Ryan White, NGLTF’s Robert Bray responded;

    “We urge our leaders to take action while they hold positions of power, not after they reach the safety of retirement and are outside the spotlight of public scrutiny. Some will salute Mr. Reagan for his post-presidential words on AIDS. But for all the children alienated from their schools because they had HIV, and all the families bombed out of their homes by hysterical neighbors, and all the IV drug users, Black, Hispanic and Asian people with AIDS, and all the gay men who died alone in some anonymous hospital room, for all these people there was no editorial. There was no PSA. There was no Great Communicator offering compassion or action. There was only presidential negligence and a legacy of shame.”


    While over 20,000 died from AIDS in the US under Reagan’s passive watch, and tens of thousands more became infected in the absence of prevention education, gays in the military suffered directly. In the eight years he was President, there were at least 13,236 kicked out of the military for being gay—nearly as many as were kicked out during the entire 17 years DADT was on the books. It follows that those extraordinarily high numbers were simply the result of a greater degree of homophobia among those who served him in the Department of Defense similar to those among his staff like Larry Speakes. But there was another factor, too: their attitude towards AIDS, first identified in Reagan’s first year in office. As Randy Shilts wrote in Conduct Unbecoming, the military repeated reacted to it not as a medical problem but “a homosexual problem,” and, for years, those who wanted to give anyone diagnosed a graceful discharge including entitlement to free lifetime Veterans hospital medical treatment were opposed by those who wanted to discharge them as homosexuals with a “General” classification preventing any benefits even though it was official Pentagon policy by that time to give gays without any evidence of negative extenuating circumstances such as sex on base an “Honorable” discharge. According to Shilts, “Since many commanders saw the [HIV] test as an assay for homosexuality, they issued clearly prioritized lists of who should be tested first in their individual commands.” Office of Special Investigation agents sought to get names of infected patients to investigate them for homosexuality. Civilian blood banks were ordered to inform the military of any service member who tested positive. Despite Pentagon assurances that the data would never be used to investigate anyone for being gay, some blood banks refused, and California Senators Boxer and Cranston urged Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger to rescind the order.

    Countless horror stories survive, similar to ones in the civilian world but with one crucial difference: the military had TOTAL control of every aspect of service member’s life. SPEC4 Jeff Herwatt was “locked in a [hospital] padded cell with a large red ISOLATION sign on the door and BIOHAZARD warning posters around his bed. His food was served on paper plates with plastic utensils by nurse who dressed in what amounted to medical space suits and who would not talk to him.” After testing positive for HIV, Navy corpsman Wayne Bell was handcuffed and taken by Marine Military Police to the brig “for [his] own protection” to await discharge processing. On the way, the MPs beat him up. One Walter Reed Army hospital doctor quoted antigay Scripture to his HIV/AIDS patients. One of them, Army PFC1 Michael Foster, hung himself with his bootlaces.

    A Rear Admiral at Naval Personnel Command overrode the medical board that had qualified Byron Kinney, suffering from several AIDS symptoms, for medical retirement. He was gay and would be discharged as such, without any benefits. Severely weak, during much of his June 1985 separation hearing he had to lie on a bench while military attorneys fought hard and dirty to repress the fact that even his Navy doctors were outraged that his confidences to them were being used to railroad him. The board recommended he be given a benefit-less “General” discharge, and his attorneys went to court. In October of the following year, the Navy finally gave in, saying they would grant Kinney medical retirement. Five days later he died.

    Both as President and Commander-in-Chief, the “Great Communicator” communicated that the lives and deaths of anyone with HIV/AIDS didn’t amount to a hill of jelly beans. And, yes, Sir, that qualifies as passive genocide which qualifies as a Holocaust.

    3. Finally, re you’re claim that “the majority of infections belonged [sic] to our communinity”???? Does that mean you’re black, straight, and live in South Africa?

    GUILTY on all counts of Loathsome Arrogance While Committing Insufferable Ignorance.

  • Michael Bedwell

    Sorry, my paragraph breaks didn’t take, as well as the Hebrew alphabet for Shoah.

  • Jack

    @Michael Bedwell: lol you’re like the left-wing version of a Tea Party nutbag. Enjoy your delusions! <3

  • Michael Bedwell


    Sorry, Mary, apparently you don’t just live on another continent, but another planet. PROVE one thing I wrote is wrong. Feel free to use statistics, graphs, quotations for experts on AIDS, a note from your Mommy…whatever.

  • Colin

    @Jack: @Jack: I agree completely.

    Gays (gay men) have only themselves to blame due to their promiscuity and unsafe sexual practices. I’m tired of AIDS being shoved in my face all the time. I have nothing in common with all these whores and sluts who died due to needing to fuck themselves into an early grave. Especially since nothing has improved in the gay community since then. Promiscuity and disease are still rampant.

    There is no point in having a memorial when it isn’t a distant memory – it’s still a contemporary, real thing. How about addressing that?

  • Jack

    @Colin: I don’t agree with the notion that HIV/AIDS is exclusive to the whores and sluts, nor do I think that being a whore/slut is reason for someone to lose his/her life, so I have to distance myself from you there.

    As for Michael, capitalization makes all the difference. Until you realize that, your entire argument is flawed. Furthermore, you’re still trying to compare apples to some strange fruit that no one has ever heard of. I can’t argue with a flawed argument. It’s like listing the ingredients in a Big Mac and then demanding that I reply to your argument. It’s unrelated and makes no sense as currently written. Please create an actual argument and structure it appropriately. Thank you. I love you.

  • Tony

    The stifling sanctimony exhibited by queertys seronegative population is enough to make even the most ardent supporter of gay rights a strident homophobe. No one deserves to “die” for sex, trust or ignorance. So many of you people are so low that the fucking sewers are overflowing with you.

  • Making up stuff is fun!

    @Tony: Yeah. That’s not the “seronegative population,” it’s a troll. Learn to tell the difference.

  • Colin

    @Jack: You don’t need to agree. I stand by what I wrote.

  • Rob

    I’ve seen the AIDS quilt or parts of it when I was attending a university, and it was very sad. :( I agree with you Tony.

    Colin-Let’s keep in mind that A LOT of bisexual and gay men, as well as heterosexual men and women became HIV+ from a partner, someone who they were dating, and they were not “promiscuous” at all. There are also hemopheliacs and people who became HIV+ from blood transfusions and HIV+ children who were born to HIV+ parents.

  • Tony

    @Rob: Oh, he’ll find that one out the hard way. Its always twerps like him who wind up an the ER with 42 T cells. I think special props should go out to Michael “I have no real sympathy for those who became infected after it was widely known that the virus was sexually transmitted” Bedwell, who apparently has never made a single mistake, slept with the wrong person, gotten drunk, had a condom malfunction, had a partner cheat or got really horny at the wrong time.

  • Hyhybt

    NOBODY deserves AIDS. Not even people like Paul Cameron, much less someone who just slept with the wrong person at the wrong time.

  • Hyhybt

    By the way: anyone else really annoyed by the stuck italics?

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @Colin: You are a fucking piece of shit, asshole!

    Read about how this horrible disease gained its stronghold before labeling the majority of those who died as reckless — with an incubation period of 4-7 years before any outward signs of the disease, the infection spread unknowingly for years.

    In San Francisco alone, it was estimated that over 20% of gay men were exposed to the disease BEFORE the New York Times ran the first article about an “unknown” disease affecting the gay community. BEFORE you stupid sack of shit.

    Clearly, as the rates of infection are hugely reduced from the early days, the vast majority of gay men are protecting themselves. Blaming the unaware, though, the vile nature of your soul is dripping in black blood.

    This is why awareness and education is so important — to prevent a new wave of a new disease.

  • Hyhybt

    @The Real Mike in Asheville: Even at that, it was a while longer before it was known what the disease *was* and how to prevent it.

    And besides, again, NOBODY deserves anything that horrible.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @Hyhybt: Why? Because I have, apparently it is unfounded, belief, or is it a hope, that we are better from the survival of those lost.

    Many suffered so much more than I — they lost their lives while I endure survivors guilt. But I do not want that those we lost have died in vain. I want their loss recognized as part of the foundation for which today, every single gay man and lesbian can be married (sure not in their home state, but for Alaska and Hawaii, no one is more than a 1000 miles for a legal marriage, flawed sure, but at 20 for me, gay sex still illegal in half the country).

    The AIDS Quilt is a significant founding block to the successes we do have. It is not that it is deserving of that respect, it is that it is a model going forward.

    Though we have, quite amazingly, a black president, nonetheless, this presidency demonstrates that racism is alive and well. For the gay community, there is still so much work before a truer equality, but let us remember those who were there making this a better American for the survivors and the younger generation.

    Hyhbrt, I am unsure of your questioning of my comment. Is it wrong of me to want a betterness from our community, to want an engagement that moves us forward? I understand that, in many ways, I am being naive, sure. But I have spent 30+ years doing, alas, so much less than others, but doing my part, and I want that part that the other played be that memorial. Don’t shoot me for that.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @Hyhybt: PS: yeah bugs me too, though, I’ll take it over Shannaon’s all caps, which just makes me completely ignore the entire comment, as, well, fuck that.

  • Hyhybt

    @The Real Mike in Asheville: I understand (and agree with) everything you wrote except two things: the part claiming I’m shooting you (in any sense) and the part where you preface it with the word “because.” The reason for that is that nothing in your post addresses the basic and far more general question I actually *asked.* Which, again, is this: why should the *length* of a conversation be expected to be proportional to the *importance* of the subject?

  • Hyhybt

    @The Real Mike in Asheville: Sorry; looking again, I’d actually asked two questions… but the second one was the underlying one.

    Maybe if I explain a counterposition… all right. You know the “articles” that serve mainly to show good-looking men in underwear? They get a lot of comments… partly *because* there’s nothing really to them. No facts involved, just opinion: people make vehement, contradictory complaints about the selection and presentation of images, push for older/younger/hairier/hairless/muscular/skinny/fat/black/asian/hispanic/closeups/full body shots/whatever. Natural enough, though it gets really silly when people insist their own personal taste is THE correct one. And it doesn’t much matter if a heated argument develops, because none of it matters anyway.

    This is different. The AIDS quilt is fact, and representative of fact. And everybody knows the important facts (setting aside things like which person in the Reagan administration made which remarks.) Everybody also already has their opinions pretty well set in stone: as you can see now that a conversation *has* developed, as usual when HIV/AIDS comes up, some focus on how sad the whole thing is, some disparage those who get sick as bringing it upon themselves (amazing how much some gay men have in common with Pat Robertson!) some will almost undoubtedly turn up to insist that *they* don’t have to worry about catching it no matter how many people they have sex with because fill-in-the-excuse-here, etc. In this specific instance of a Serious Subject Thread, we’ve been over it all before, there’s nothing major to tell anyone they don’t already know, nobody’s opinion is going to be swayed… and unlike the underwear threads, it really hurts once it turns vicious precisely because it matters so much. The subject of AIDS on Queerty is very much like the subject of abortion pretty much anywhere else. (Probably here too, so please let’s not get started on it.)

    But that doesn’t really get at the more general question either :)

    Whether a conversation grows depends largely on whether the first few who see it immediately have something to say on the matter. Because of the email feature, Queerty is unusually good at keeping conversations going once they’ve begun; too many other sites, you have to go back to the article and *check* whether anyone’s responded, and most people either don’t bother at all or check frequently for maybe up to the first day and then never go back. Here, though, anybody who has commented is (or at least can be) kept up to date.

    Now, something lighter, a person reading the article for the first (and probably only) time who sees no existing comments is likely to make a similarly thoughtless (not meaning that in a bad way) comment, the next person may do the same or respond to the first, etc and boom, you have a conversation going. A serious, deeper subject, that first person (and everybody until a comment is posted is basically the first person) may well think on the subject, but not have anything to add to it at the moment. And then of course they don’t come back, because why would they? They’ve read that one already.

    I will say I learned something new from the article itself: I’d always had the impression that each patch of the quilt is a few *inches* on a side, not feet. I’m of two minds about whether, in hindsight, feet was the best way to go given the trouble displaying it nowadays vs. the symbolism of making each patch the size of a grave. So I guess there’s at least *something* to disagree on that doesn’t demonstrate one side or another to be an idiot or worse, even if nobody’s actually done it so far :)

  • Colin

    @The Real Mike in Asheville: It doesn’t matter. If gays weren’t fucking everyone in sight, the disease simply wouldn’t have spread and affected so many gays. It was (and is), like most STDs, almost entirely preventable. Period. End of discussion. Anything you or anyone else says is just a lame excuse to justify risky, slutty behavior while ignoring the whole idea of personal responsibility, and I’m over it. Save your outrage for someone else.

    And obviously you are not aware of statistics because gay men still account for over 65% of new HIV infections in the United States. As a statistic, they are still the highest percentage of new HIV infections, despite being a small minority. That shows that nothing has really changed from the 80s except that gay people are living longer with the disease.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @Colin: No, you are still a sack of SHIT!

    They DIED in the 1980s, twerp; infected in the 1970s — just as I was, a freshman at Cal, newly aware that there was a freedom to be who I was. Of course, once the awareness to the disease was known, playing safe ever since — as in, in love with a boyfriend, now husband, of over 26 years, who remains neg.

    Your lack of understanding, lack of compassion, and lack of humanity is DISGUSTING, REVOLTING, and UNGODLY for such a pious prick.

  • Colin

    @The Real Mike in Asheville: I already told you to save it. There had been known STDs around for hundreds of years before AIDS was even on the map. So you knew the risks like everyone else but you still needed to fuck in the name of “freedom.” So you got fucked in the end. Just like the other gays back in the 80s, and just like gays now.

    Now if you have nothing left to write but a lot of pearl-clutching name-calling, then you best be on your way.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @Colin: I won’t save it dipshit because you remain a dipshit!

    Until HIV, the consequences of a sexually transmitted disease, just as I was taught in high school sex-ed, was a shot of a penicillin derivative. That was the risk, period.

    You are beyond pathetic, applying whatever misguided morality that is, actually, amoral.

  • Tony

    Mike, until you stop trying to justify and defend HIV infection based on how you and you alone came to be infected, you stand as a divisive agent amongst those who are infected. The correct answer is not some explanation of how you couldn’t have known better, it is that everyone on the planet has sex, and no one deserves to die for something we all do. Stop feeding the troll and making an excuse for yourself at the expense of those of us who came to be infected in the ~30 years after the virus was understood. Battles are always easier fought with comrades than enemies.

  • Hyhybt

    @The Real Mike in Asheville: Not quite true. Before anyone had ever heard of HIV, there were other STDs that antibiotics don’t touch. Herpes, for example. Or that virus whose name slips my mind at the moment that causes warts and cancer.

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