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Historical outdoor exhibit marks 35th anniversary of AIDS Memorial Quilt

SAN FRANCISCO — The National AIDS Memorial celebrated the 35th anniversary of the AIDS Memorial Quilt with an outdoor historical exhibit in Golden Gate Park.

“This is actually the largest exhibit of the AIDS quilt ever held in San Francisco, and the largest exhibit ever in a decade,” said Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. “Each panel is unique in honor of a precious life lost to AIDS. There is so much love in each of these panels.”

Today, the quilt, considered the largest community art project in the world, has more than 50,000 individually sewn panels with more than 110,000 names.

“When I got here I wasn’t really expecting what I was going to see, but when I saw all these amazing quilts, it just shocked me,” said viewer Jarret Zundel. “To see the sheer number of people who have died from this terrible disease.”

“Remember the names, and that’s what the quilt is for,” said Kevin Herglotz, COO of the National AIDS Memorial. “It’s about always remembering those names and using the quilt as a teaching tool so we can learn the lessons of the past so we don’t repeat them in the future.”

Quilt co-founders Cleve Jones, Mike Smith and Gert McMullin formally organized the NAMES Project Foundation in 1987. In October of the same year, the quilt was first displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

“Of course, at the start of the pandemic, the stigma was overwhelming. People died alone and forgotten,” said co-founder Cleve Jones. “It hit my neighborhood early and hard. Within a few years almost everyone I knew was dead or dying or caring for someone who was dying and I wanted to warn the world and also try to find a way for people to grieve together.”

“Now, 35 years later, the quilt continues to play an important role in fighting the HIV epidemic,” said Daniel O’Day, chairman and CEO of Gilead Sciences. “The quilt plays a part in all of this, inspiring action, touching hearts and minds, and reminding us all of the cost of human life.”

“The quilt will continue to be a call to action,” said Dafina Ward, executive director of the Southern AIDS Coalition. “to amplify the experiences of those living with HIV and AIDS, to celebrate the legacies of those we have lost so that they are not wasted and we can make things better.”

To learn more and get support, visit here.

https://abc13.com/aids-quilt-cleve-jones-mike-smith-gert-mcmullin/11991693/ Historical outdoor exhibit marks 35th anniversary of AIDS Memorial Quilt

Dais Johnston

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