Through a collaboration between OUT, the Library, Campus Life, and Gender & Sexuality Programs, five panels from the National AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display in the Gendebien Room of Skillman Library the week April 25-29 from 10-6 p.m. daily. The community is invited to visit this important historical relic and to contemplate the continued impact HIV & AIDS have on our world.
The National AIDS Memorial Quilt is a celebration of more than 110,000 individuals who lost their lives from AIDS-related causes. This of course is only a small fraction of the estimated 36.3 million people who have passed away since HIV and AIDS were first recognized in 1981. The HIV & AIDS pandemic is an area in which prejudice and discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual people have been exacerbated with negative effects still felt by the community today. Early in the pandemic, the assumption that HIV & AIDS was a “gay disease” contributed to the gross delay in addressing the massive social upheaval that AIDS would generate. The quilt was and remains a poignant piece of our national history that has been instrumental in advocating for political action and keeping alive the memory of those we have lost to this terrible disease. 30 years since its last appearance on campus in 1992, we are so grateful to share a small piece of it with a new generation of Lafayette College and to inspire a renewed interest in the ongoing fight to eradicate HIV and the associated stigma against those living with the virus from our world.
An official opening of the display will occur on Mon., April 25 at 12:30 p.m. A service of memory and invocation will be led by the Reverend Goudy of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley, a social justice oriented congregation in Bethlehem, PA. Since its founding in 1984, MCCLV has warmly welcomed the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and today the majority of people who attend MCCLV identify as LGBT. The health team from Bradbury Sullivan LGBT Center will also be on site with educational resources and information about HIV testing and support programs in the area. Light refreshments will be served afterwards on the steps of Skillman Library. All are invited to attend.
The issues our nation has faced in the past two years—a raging pandemic with hundreds of thousands of lives lost, social injustice, health inequity, stigma, bigotry and fear—are also the issues faced throughout four decades of the AIDS pandemic. The Quilt is a powerful teaching tool that shares the story of HIV & AIDS and the hope, healing, activism and remembrance that it inspires.