Michelle DiMuzio, from University of Michigan with an interview by Luis Giraldo, University of Florida, with a ONE member on the (2015)AIDS quilt.
ONE and (RED)’s virtual AIDS quilt, a modern-day version of the original AIDS Quilt, captured the attention of concert goers at the Bonnaroo Music Festival and campgrounds last weekend. During the festival, I had great interactions with people about the AIDS movement and even some who had seen original patches in their hometown of San Francisco.
Some of the festival goers we met were personally affected by AIDS. One woman explained how her uncle died from AIDS and she was quickly receptive to our digital quilt and its hopeful tribute to the original 80s AIDS Quilt. Another group of enthusiastic Bonnaroovians were shocked at the possibility of an AIDS free generation and excited to contribute their panels as they waited in line for Radiohead’s headlining performance. The general trend I’ve noticed is the willingness to support our cause due to the easiness of recreating a quilt that clearly affected many.
But it was our encounter with ONE member Nancy that really showed me how the (2015)Quilt transcends generations and unites us all in remembering the past and creating a more hopeful future. Thirty years ago, as a middle school student in Illinois, Nancy was a small but integral part of the movement to fight HIV/AIDS. And today, amid the rising dust and mingling melodies of Bonnaroo, she returns to the cause and tells her story.
Luis: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How are you connected to the fight against HIV/AIDS?
Nancy: My name is Nancy and in the 1980s, I was part of the original AIDS quilt. I was in junior high in Edgewood Middle School in Highland Park, Illinois. Our class designed a patch that is part of the original quilt that is displayed in Washington, DC. I’m proud to say that I will also be part of the digital quilt that will be displayed in DC as well.
How do you feel after finding out that we are continuing on this project with a different twist?
I think it’s wonderful because work still needs to be done. There has been progress, but obviously it’s not enough. People are still dying so it’s never enough.
What have you learned so far after these 30 years that have gone by since you contributed to the original AIDS quilt?
That more needs to be done. It’s nice to see young people carry the torch and continuing work and research.
What would you tell your local representatives or people who have a direct say in this? What would you tell them? Why do you think this is important?
As long as people are still dying, as long as it’s still affecting people, it’s important. Every life is important.
It’s only Day 2 at Bonnaroo, but my experience talking with Nancy and the many other supporters here in Manchester, Tennessee reminds me that now, more than ever, people from every demographic, background, and even musical taste can come together to create a better future –- a future free of HIV.