Seeing Charlie’s Quilt Up Close…
When I got to the end of the Mall where the stage is, my friend and AIDS activist Sean Strub was there waiting to greet me. So was Jennifer Morton of POZ, who had finally managed to find out where Charlie’s quilt was; what’s more she had brought it to the front of the whole exhibit, right at the stage. What a doll!
It more beautiful than it looks in pictures; there is so much more artistic detail. It was lovely to be able to look at it up close and among so many touching and imaginative panels.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D, California) and Congressman James Hines (D, Connecticut) arrived, said a few words and promised to support Sean’s anti-criminalization effort and Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s (D, California) legislation: H.R.3053 – Repeal HIV Discrimination Act, to eliminate discrimination in the law for those who have tested positive for HIV, and for other purposes.
Then it was time for Sean and me to join the on-going reading of names. I was given a list of 30 names; that particular list was considered a great honor to read – it was read by Elizabeth Taylor at the first Quilt display. She went on to be a general in the fight against AIDS, no matter what the cost to her career.
Sean had his own list; it was much more than 30 names, of people he had personally lost. He told me later that the names he read were only a fraction; he figured the total was “in the hundreds.”
A few rain drops fell and over the loudspeaker everyone was asked to run to help fold the Quilt panels that extended as far as the eye could see to the Washington Monument. It was so moving to see the hundreds of people who had been honoring the quilts by their solemn presence suddenly moving into action to save them.
The rain stopped, and Sean suggested we go over to the AIDS demonstration behind the White House. Five separate marches were to convene there -for various aspects of the crisis, including housing, women, research, and civil rights. The first ones to show up were the women (!) with a nice contingent from the Feminist Majority Foundation. After all had arrived, the park was full and a spirited rally began.
When I left, it was still going on.
A great day!