THE AIDS MEMORIAL @theaidsmemorial

Stories of Love, Loss & Remembrance
#whatisrememberedlives
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— “Sidney Michael Cheezic, born January 20, 1952, Waterbury, Connecticut. Died March 20, 1991, Boston, Massachusetts.
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This is the only picture I have of my Uncle Sid. He died when I was 15 years old. I didn’t know him well. I just remember him visiting us on a few occasions.
I also remember we went to visit him in Provincetown once.
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Here’s what I do know about him. At the time of his passing he had a boyfriend named Michael W. Moses. They are buried together in Forest Hills Cemetery near Boston.
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He was an amazing artist. He lived in Provincetown for a while and then moved to Boston. He doodled alot.
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I wish I knew more. I’ve always felt drawn to him my entire life, even after his death. I’m just now realizing what dying of AIDS meant and what he must have gone through those last few months. It breaks my heart.
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None of the family went to be with him. My dad’s side of the family were estranged from each other all of my life. No one spoke to each other. I'm sure Michael was by his side until his last breath.
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It’s just sad. I’m sad for me, for him, for all of those who died of AIDS." ― by Jessica Therrien @foreverlena
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#whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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— “John David Thomas (1948 - January 20, 1999) was one of Dallas’ most visible and dedicated gay rights and AIDS activist, who died of AIDS related pneumonia and dehydration at @bayloruniversity Medical Center. John was surrounded by his family and friends when he passed. He was 51 years old.
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While hospitalised, John refused to accept further infusions of saline and potassium, a form of life support, deciding to end his own personal fight with AIDS that he had been waging for many years.
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I took the second photograph right after John’s HIV diagnosis, as he wanted to be remembered for how he looked before AIDS. It also served as his obituary photograph and was posted at his funeral, at his request. He was a truly remarkable individual and brother.
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Born in Bucyrus, Ohio, and the son of a Baptist preacher, John grew up in Centerville, Ohio and Quincy, Illinois. He received his B.A. in psychology from the #UniversityofIllinois and his MBA in general management from @mynyit.
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The Resource Center Dallas honored him by naming its community center after him, and the @CathedralofHope in Dallas honored him by constructing a bell tower in his name.” — by William Waybourne
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— “My Mama, Debbie Lynn Kellner (August 2, 1964 - January 20, 2004) who never knew she was beautiful and never got that message from this world. I wish that I could tell her how beautiful she was.
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Losing my mother was like losing part of my own body. She was a woman who was born into extreme poverty to a family of 10. She was blessed to be a twin and have that incredibly deep connection in this world.
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My mom could not read or write and she suffered more physical violence than I can ever bring myself to describe in a post but she survived longer than
the men who tried to kill her. She fought to graduate from high school despite the incredible bullying she experienced for being in the special education program.
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My mom contracted HIV at 21 and was convinced she would never have access to romantic love again in her life (this was partially true). So when she met Tom, he had just been released from prison and he was homeless so he immediately moved in with us.
Even though that got us kicked out of public housing, my mom was willing to overlook that because at least she had someone who loved her. Her ashes are buried with him and I still find this fact sickening.
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She survived to the age of 39. She survived the early years of the AIDS epidemic despite chronic poverty, domestic violence, stigma and depression.
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She loved ALL of my friends. And to the friends who were brave enough to show her love at the end when they knew she had AIDS, I will never forget.

I am grateful for how hard to she fought to live long enough to help me grow into the almost woman I was when she died. I will miss her forever." ― by Crystal Fawn Gamet
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#whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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- “My father ― "Chip" was a nickname. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia on January 19, 1957. He was a director and producer working for the National College of Television in NYC. His last job was with Court TV.
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My mom, brother, and I were in Virginia while he went back to NYC to work at Court TV and to get us another apartment. Mom didn’t hear from him for a week. She started calling hospitals and found him. He had tuberculosis. That was the original diagnosis. Mom visited him and deduced that he had AIDS. I'm not sure if he knew or just wasn't telling her. He was 34 when he died. His funeral was on his birthday.
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Mom was aware that he was bisexual. It caused complications in their marriage but he was always trying to keep us together as a family. I was very close to my father. He was the best. I had very mixed emotions when he passed. We had been living in Greenwich Village. As kid I was no stranger to the gay community. I was angry that we had left NYC. I felt all my dreams were out of reach.
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My depression over it eventually surfaced. I became a bit of a mess. In and out of mental hospitals and juvenile jail. When I started trying to come to grips with what was wrong with me, I felt more guilty for feeling angry. I remember his last months suffering. It still hurts. We could have made his last months better if we had known but it was a unique situation.
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My fondest memory is of him taking me to Astor Place in the Village to get our hair permed when I was 9. He was a lot of fun and I hardly saw him angry. He was loving, funny, hard-working and did his best to cope with a father who initially rejected and humiliated him. I wish I could have done better to honor him instead of letting depression mess me up. He was always so comforting, no situation was bad when he was there.
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At 14, I didnt know how to cope without him. Seeing him suffer and waste away just made me emotionally unstable. Mom didnt know how to handle me. All I really learned from him was how to laugh and love but it wasn't enough to get me though my teenage years" ― by Josh Willow
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— “David White and I met at The Factory in West Hollywood in 1998. I remember seeing him at the small back bar. He was tall and very handsome. Somehow we started a conversation. When we realized we were both 32 years old, I asked him when his birthday is. He said December 9th. I said that was my birthday as well. I felt like I found my kindred gay brother. We found out later we were born an hour apart. We stayed friends after that.
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David had an art/photography studio on Santa Monica Boulevard across from the IHOP. He then moved to Palm Springs and I didn’t see him for awhile until he was back to Los Angeles. I ran into him at a pool party in Whitley Heights and noticed his looks changed a bit but still handsome. We always emailed each other on our birthdays even though we didn’t see each other often.
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On December 3, 2005, I threw myself a 40th birthday party and David accidentally came on a different day and dropped off a gift. That was the last time I saw him.
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I heard he was sick and that he moved back to Sacramento where he grew up. In 2010 or 2011 I heard he died of AIDS. I called his mother to give
my condolences. I don’t want him to be forgotten.
I miss him and seeing his handsome face.” —
by Carlos Healy @carlos_healy
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#whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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— “José Anibal Fonseca (October 11, 1956 - January 19, 2001) was my mother’s older brother. He is pictured here with my aunt, his wife, Pat.
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José was one of 9 children. “Your grandmother had all these kids around and she still took me in when I needed a place to stay,” my aunt Pat told me. “José was like your mother, always laughing and telling jokes. I Ioved him immediately.” Aunt Pat tells me a lot about my uncle José.
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I didn’t know him well. I didn’t know any of the men in our family well. I found safety and affirmation in the many aunts and women that frequented my home when I was growing up.
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I don’t know what José’s dreams were. I didn’t even know that his birthday was a few days ago. My aunt pay told me. As I got older, José and I would only greet each other. We didn’t laugh. We didn’t joke. He would often disappear, just like my mother. He struggled with addiction.
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By the time José and I would spend a decent amount of time, in the same room, it was long after he and my aunt split up. In the late 1990’s, he began to lose weight. We knew what was going on but my family was still reeling from my aunt Bianca’s death from AIDS just a few years earlier.
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I watched my own father deteriorate during his battle with HIV. I knew exactly what I was witnessing. No one spoke a word. Looking back, I think our family didn’t have the words to be able to speak of such loss.
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When José died of AIDS-related complications in 2001, there was no funeral. At least I don’t remember. His name is seldom mentioned by my family. So today, I speak his name:
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JOSÉ ANIBAL FONSECA.” — by Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca
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— Bruce W. Kears (January 19, 1954 - June 17, 1989) was born in Oakland and a resident of San Francisco. He was diagnosed with AIDS in September 1986 but spent his time battling discrimination faced by People With AIDS in the workplace.
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Bruce died at UCSF Medical Center as a result of AIDS. He was 35 years old. At his side were his lover of eight years John and his sister Pat.
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During Bruce's last year, his dog 'Maggie' was his constant companion and a tremendous support to him.
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📷 © @jimwigler
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— “Kent Baird would have been 59 years old today. We met during freshman orientation at @oberlincollege and were friends until his death from AIDS related congestive heart failure at 35. Kent possessed a curious and interested mind, a dry wit and a sly sense of humor. I always learned new things from him. If he discovered something new that delighted or intrigued him, he relished sharing it. I miss him every day.” — by Alexandra Cohn @alexandra.mongolian.couture
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— “New York City Gay Pride 1993 at the corner of Christopher Street and Greenwich Avenue with (from left to right) me, David Mayer, Mark Moffett Jr. and Michael Alhonte.
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We were a a close-knit family of friends dating back to the early 1980s. I am the only surviving member from that particular photograph. Michael and Mark passed from HIV related illnesses and David lost his battle to depression.“ — by Patrick Jones
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— Bruce Boyd Blackman was born in New York City, New York on January 19, 1943 and entered into rest in San Francisco on November 2, 2008.
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My father went on to serve in the United States Army in 1965. He was trained and later assigned to 82nd Airborne Green Beret Special Forces. 13 years later Bruce (Dad) relocated to Oakland, California to get clean and sober. Through my father's sobriety he became a drug rehabilitation counsellor.
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At the age of 12 in 1992, my twin and I found out my father was HIV positive. 10 years later, my father had “full blown” AIDS. For 2 decades my father lived with the virus. The last year of my father's life I took care of him. Having a parent living with HIV/AIDS was not easy especially during the time when he was diagnosed.
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In early 1990s, it was hard for my father to deal with the ridicule and stigma. One thing my Dad said to me and I will never forget was:
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'I appreciate how you girls embrace me and accept me for who I am and not by my VIRUS.” — by Afiya & Naima Blackman
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— “My older brother Jeffrey George Mazon died of AIDS in January 1990. He loved hard, played hard and died hard. These were the early years of the crisis when the HIV protocols were just being put into place. Jeff was able to take advantage of a few of them, even antiretroviral drugs but it was too late.
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Someone so very aware and proud of his looks was struck by molluscum all over his face to which he would take a torch — powered by a gas canister prescribed by his doctor — to try and rid himself of these pink lesions. I reflect back on this almost 30 years later, I shudder in sadness that my handsome and proud brother was burning his face so that he could look at himself in the mirror so that he could retain a degree of dignity in the face of this scourge.
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Jeff and I were allies of sorts. I, the studious and focused younger brother, and he, the hard charging party guy, did not always see eye to eye. I judged him then, but I don’t now. Judging what brought him to his untimely death does not do his life justice, nor does it bring him back.
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He would have been such a great uncle to our son whose own struggles as a teen have brought back many of the feelings and hurt that I had when Jeff would lock me out of a room, or pick up the phone so that I couldn’t call my mom at work on our 1970s rotary phone to tell her that Jeff was being mean to me, or when, in 1989, he’d call his partner from across the country to plead for him to join him even when death was knocking at his door.
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I’m sending out a shout to Jeff to let him know that yes, I did turn out to be gay like him — heavenly eye roll from Jeff since he probably knew that anyway! — that our sister is as lovely as ever, that our dear dad passed peacefully a year ago, and that our amazing mother remains in my heart and mind each and every day.
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I couldn’t save you back then dear brother, though I tried as hard as I could as we all did. But I can, almost 30 years later, extend a heart-string to you so that we can move forward together, spiritually, in a spirit of fraternal love and friendship. I love you and miss you, dear one.” — by Brad Mazon
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— “Remembering my dear friend and once partner in crime, David Visser. David was the very first person that I knew who passed away from this once life ending disease. He was just 30 years old when he died on December 23, 1990. To this day, I miss his laughter, (although I can still hear it), his smile and his gentle and kind nature.
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We shared a house on two separate occasions in Grand Rapids and there was never a dull moment and many wonderful memories. While David was the first of my friends to succumb to AIDS, he was by no means the last. I will say that I am fortunate to have friends who have also survived this and I am grateful for their friendship.
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I was able to go to Washington D.C. when the AIDS Memorial Quilt was displayed on the mall. I found David's panel which I have included a photograph. Rest in peace my friend, you are remembered and often thought of.” ― by Norman Dagen @normdagen
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