2020 marks the 40th anniversary of America’s first AIDS case. Since then, almost 700,000 people have died, the LGBTQ community has been stigmatized by the virus, and we are still without a cure. However, with the advent of PrEP and PEP, the social landscape in the gay community has radically shifted. The first signs of hope are now visible that a generation without HIV will one day be possible.
Back in 1985, the AIDS Memorial Quilt was conceived to help remember those who had died from the virus. The Quilt continues to be a powerful symbol to honor those who have died, remember the past events of our country, celebrate the changes that have been made, and continue to fight for justice.
2020 marks a significant milestone in the battle against AIDS. The entire planet now faces another pandemic, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Suddenly, the world has become hyperaware of just how deadly a virus can be. And with that recognition, there’s a heightened remembrance of the LGBTQ community’s battle against HIV. It’s never been more important to showcase the quilt and show the reality of what happens when a society ignores a deadly pandemic.
However, because of this year’s unique circumstances, the quilt will be going on display virtually in order for everyone around the country to learn together, grieve together, and find a sense of community, all while remaining safe.
In preparation for World AIDS Day on December 1st, the Quilt will be going on display virtually beginning November 16th and will remain on display through March 2021. The online exhibition will be free to the public and all are welcomed and encouraged to explore the quilt.
“World AIDS Day is taking on new meaning this year, as COVID-19 has brought an enormous loss of life and grief to millions of people,” said John Cunningham, executive director of the National AIDS Memorial. “During the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, the Quilt was a source of immense comfort, inspiration, and used as a tool for social activism to open the eyes of the nation to injustice and to help survivors grieve and heal. Through this exhibition, we hope the power and beauty of the Quilt can serve that same purpose for those who are experiencing loss and grief due to COVID-19.”
The National AIDS Memorial is also looking for sponsors to help host the quilt during the virtual event. According to the organization, “Panel makers, individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations from across the country are invited to host a display of the Quilt and be a part of this first-ever 50-state exhibition.” Becoming a host costs $500, which will go towards the continuing education and preservation of the quilt. If you’re interested in becoming a host for the virtual event, click here.