THE A I D S M E M O R I A L @theaidsmemorial

Stories of Love, Loss & Remembrance
#whatisrememberedlives
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www.theguardian.com/society/2018/nov/04/instagrams-aids-memorial-history-does-not-record-itself

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Remembering my beautiful intersex spirit sister
Miss Kitty Litter Green today and every day. She was a world class kook, a sexy spiritually evolved and enlightened being, a brilliant entertainer and artist, an inspiration and a soul mate. She died of AIDS in 1995 at the age of 32.
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She showed me how to live and how to face death with grace and power. She was a Glamour Goddess until the end. We stirred up a lot of trouble and had a lot of fun in our brief time together.
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So many of us are still healing from the trauma we experienced as we grieve our losses I wanted to share a lesson my friend Charles Herman-Wurmfeld recently passed to me from his teacher. Here u go:
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“Grief is the highest form of praise. We are praising that which is passing and changing/ transforming. What appears to be leaving our life, however, is simply transforming. So to have deep grief is to be in high praise of that which you are honoring with your grief. If you are having grief about something that happened to yourself, you are honoring yourself with the highest of emanations. You are honoring that you matter . . . in the world. Thank you for honoring yourself with your grief and with your joy, and with . . . your praise. We are honoring many eras that are passing right now, by grieving them. This is a chance for us to refine our grief and the way that we grieve, and to grieve fully and honor it. There’s a lot passing right now, allot changing, a lot transforming. And al lot at the hands of our collective human species. And so to forgive ourselves. Of course not avoiding being accountable. We can be accountable and at the same time be tender with ourselves.”—
by Justin Vivian Bond @mxviv
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#transdayofremembrance #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #endaids

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“I met Larry Gordon Jones (August 21, 1951 - May 27, 2018) and Dylan Allan Carlson (October 31, 1994 - September 21, 2018) on the same day.
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On May 16, 2018, I went to Omega Hospice House
in Houston, Texas, to photograph the residents for @prideportraits.
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Larry and Dylan were so energetic and exited to be photographed. Larry told us about his life and all he had done. Dylan told us he was so weak but was getting stronger everyday. He wanted to be a lesson to others that this diagnosis wasn’t going to stop him from living.
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Within months they were both gone. Larry at 67 years old and Dylan at 22.”— by Eric Edward Schell @prideportraits
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#whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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“January 26, 1983 — A few friends and I were celebrating my 25th Birthday at one of the early 1980s many Mega Restaurants which could seat hundreds of people and menus of at least a dozen pages.
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Our waiter, Donald, had striking angular features, and mesmerizing blue eyes, although I only had black and white film in the camera. I simply had to snap a photo of him while he was attending to our table. One of my friends wasn't shy and she asked for his number, and we all ended up being friends.
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Later that year, Donald Stumpf (December 19, 1960 - August 7, 2002) was signed by one of the top modeling agencies and sent to Milan to do his modeling boot camp as was the practice of that time. He was picked up by @GiorgioArmani and made the back cover of @luomovogue of October 1983 with Francesco Clemente on the front.
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As I was a Flight Attendant with Milan as one of my regular work destinations, I would get together with Donald to hang out during my layovers, most often around the Duomo and the Gallerias.
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It was like walking around with a movie star. Teenage Italian girls would swarm him, tugging at him, asking him for autographs, and the most daring among them attempting to kiss him. He was a humble boy, not unaware of his good looks, but shocked by this sudden celebrity.
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I eventually lost touch with Donald until I ran into him in 1993 on the street in Hell's Kitchen not far from his former apartment where we used to party back in the 1980s. I was also with the same friend who had initially asked for his phone number at the Mexican Restaurant.
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Donald informed us that he had started his own Catering Company and that he was going by the name Donald Sutton, and not Stumpf as I had known him. He proudly gave me his new business card, but that was the last I would ever see of him.” — by Lucien Samaha @luciensamaha_onfilm

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“Every year comes November 18 and all the memories of a life we had together come flooding back.
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Not usually a day passes that I don't think of my best friend and longtime companion David or talk about him to family or friends. It's good to know that his presence is still so strong after leaving this physical world.
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David made me promise to do two things before he died. The first was to have the song "Being Alive" by Barbra Streisand which was read beautifully by his sister Fran and also something that I could never remember after all these years.
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Well, last night being a little sad, possibly because today is one year since my father died, I was laying in bed on the iPad and listening to “Being Alive.”
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I think I put the TV on mute and then typed in “Streisand’s” name on YouTube and the piece of the puzzle, that I promise I never told anyone, came to me. There it was. The top song on pages of her music posted and that's what David told me — listen to this song after I'm gone.
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David — your goodness, smile and being will always stay with me and those also who loved you.
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Always rest in peace my love. Time has taken you away but you're never forgotten. Love, Andrew.”
— by Andrew Kasner

#whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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“In 1991, my son Fred, was on the program with @godslovenyc, living with AIDS. After just three short months of receiving meals from @godslovenyc, Fred lost his brave fight to the disease.
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I had seen the beautiful meals he had been receiving from @godslovenyc and, when he died,
I said, “It’s payback time.” I have been with @godslovenyc ever since.
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For 27 years, I’ve been volunteering weekly and fundraising yearly for @godslovenyc, so that they can continue to help others who need their meals. Every year I participate in the annual #RacetoDeliver, with my team Roz’s Girls. Since we started, we’ve raised over $180,000, which funds over 18,000 meals!
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I remember so clearly the food Fred received and I remember so clearly when I first came to the @godslovenyc kitchen, donned an apron, and set to work, chopping and peeling vegetables with the Friday night crew.
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@godslovenyc is an essential part of my life. Since my start at @godslovenyc, I’ve tried on almost every volunteer hat, working in the kitchen, in the development and finance departments, at events and on the streets, as an advocate and ambassador for @godslovenyc.
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Look for me and my team on Sunday at the 25th Annual Race to Deliver! It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years – I’ll be there with Roz’s Girls, and we’ll proudly walk the 4 miles through Central Park.
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I will always deliver for @godslovenyc, as a volunteer, an ambassador and a Racer, truly a loud voice for so many." — by Roz Gilbert via @godslovenyc
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📷 Roz, pictured center, with Fred and her daughter Cheryl.
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#whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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“My brother Scott Thomas Cleaver (1957-1984)
was diagnosed in November 1983. We had hardly heard whisperings of the disease that he would die from only one short year later. We made the most of the year that he was sick. He and his friends came down from San Francisco to Southern California to Disneyland on what he joked was his Make-A-Wish trip.
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In August, I couldn't understand why Scott said he couldn't come to my wedding. When I saw him a few weeks later, I knew. He was definitely showing the ravages of the illness and was too embarrassed for anyone to see him.
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The week Scott died we were all there. Mama and Daddy and his wonderful assorted friends one of which remains my best friend to this day. I was 23 and he was 27 years old.
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After Scott died, my amazing mom, Barbara Cleaver, discovered that there was a lack of support and resources for parents in the same circumstance. She and another mom started M.A.P. Mothers of AIDS patients. A support group for parents and others to deal with the grief and stigma attached to an illness that some parents could not disclose to anyone. My mom ended up traveling around the world speaking up for those who could not. She and my father read the names of the AIDS Quilt panels the first time it was displayed in Washington D.C.
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I miss Scott so much and wish he could have met
his beautiful nieces. They would have loved my brother who could play any instrument, sing any harmony and make me laugh until I cried every,
every day. I will never forget.” — by Gina Madison @gina_madison
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#whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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“Jim Walters died on January 28, 1991, age 34.
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I met Jim when I started at @SJSU in 1989. He would attend the campus LGBT group. I found Jim frequently gruff and stand-offish, but on occasion an impish puck-like quality and twinkle in his eye would sneak out. Only later would I come to realize what I interpreted as gruffness was exhaustion from the ravages of the disease.
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Jim was the first person with HIV that I knew. In his 20’s he had turned to drugs to cope with homophobia. He was diagnosed with AIDS-related complex in 1986, 2 months after he stopped using drugs.
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Jim moved to San Jose and enrolled at @SJSU around 1988, where he had a massive impact on the campus and those around him. He would receive an honorary history degree in December 1991. He was heavily involved in campus government; the first person with AIDS to be elected to a student office in California. You could find his opinions frequently in the Spartan Daily paper.
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His pinnacle of student involvement was being elected Associated Students Vice President, after strong campaign opposition from campus conservatives who thought he should not run for office because he was gay.
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Jim was an advocate of HIV education and warned of the dangers of drug use. He helped write SJSU’s first drug and alcohol policy. He was a leader in the campus LGBT community.
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Jim’s thin frail body contradicted his tremendous spirit and motivation. I remember his neatly pressed, slightly too big shirts, buttoned all the way up and his neatly trimmed moustache.
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After his passing, the university created the Jim Walters award, presented to one student annually for outstanding service in health education, AIDS education and community service.
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Many things influenced me at the time, however, Jim’s ability to keep moving forward and his passing in and of itself, added fuel to my fire, I got more involved, leading the LGBT student group, gay rights activism and an eventually 8 years as an HIV/AIDS educator.
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In 1992 at the closing of a display of the Names Project Quilt at @SJSU, I was presented the Jim Walters award. I keep the award on my wall, his motivation is my motivation.” — by Mike Kemmerrer

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Ofra Haza (November 19, 1957 – February 23, 2000) was an Israeli singer and actress who died of AIDS in Ramat Gan, Israel. She was 42 years old.
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Haza was discovered at age 12 in the Hatikva neighborhood in Tel Aviv. A Jew whose family came from Yemen, she rose from poverty to stardom in a way that inspired many Sephardic immigrants to Israel.
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Haza did not want to disclose her HIV status and did not disclose to Tel Aviv hospital staff who first treated her in an emergency room two weeks before her death. If Haza had admitted herself to hospital earlier her life might have been saved. But Haza, fearful that her status would become, refused to go to the hospital, even when her health deteriorated.
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There much speculation about how Haza had acquired HIV. After her death, the media blamed her husband, Tel Aviv businessman Doron Ashkenazi who she married on July 15, 1997. The couple had no children together.
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Ashkenazi died of a drug overdose roughly one year after Haza's death on April 7, 2001, leaving a daughter from a prior marriage and a 14-year-old adopted son.
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#whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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“David Michael Labeda was born on November 18, 1960 in North Brunswick, New Jersey. I met him at Gold Coast Bar, West Hollywood. We played cat and mouse for a year before we physically connected; months later, we were also emotionally connected and shacked up together.
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David was HIV positive asymptomatic. Lurking below the surface there were infrequently discussed HIV related “complications”: depression, guilt, addiction and drug abuse. I convinced him to start one of the newly-approved antiretroviral cocktails.
6 months later, he was HIV undetectable with a normal T-cell count.
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Although David was no longer likely to die from AIDS, those unspoken complications still smoldered. We argued about addiction, particularly crystal abuse that resulted in hospitalizations with pneumonia and a severely enlarged heart from the cardiac strain that repeated pneumonia bouts put on his heart.
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David’s demons alienated him from his Mom, sister @ms.labeda and friends. I hung in there and tried to talk him into getting help. I considered breaking up. It took a huge toll on our relationship but I never pushed it because I loved him too much. Without realizing it, I became an unwilling enabler.
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We went to a party in Hollywood on December 25, 1999. Booze was flowin and there were candy dishes filled with Vicodin, Percocet, etc. on the coffee table. I spotted David helping himself to “candy” and saw him sneak off into another room a few times with other crystal users. Dinner was taking forever and guests were getting sloppy on booze and pills. I insisted on going home. David reluctantly agreed.
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We went to bed, snuggled, kissed and told each other “I love you”. An hour later I woke up and found David unresponsive. Neither I nor the paramedics were able to revive him.
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After his death, I found a sealed note that David wrote years before upon first learning of his HIV positive status: “My life is over; I’m going to die of AIDS. I always knew that would happen to me.”
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David didn’t die of AIDS; he died of “unspoken AIDS related complications.” The HIV went silent but his demons roared internally.
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I still love and miss you. Happy Birthday.” — by @hermreyes

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Gary Weinberg passed away on November 18, 1981.
On that day we lost one of the good ones. He was my agent and we loved each others like brothers. We had a friendship that others marveled about. He was my muse, my brother, my teacher and most importantly my friend. There has not been a day since he died that I have not thought about him or wished him still here with us. For those of you who knew him, you know how incredibly special he was. To this day his briefcase sits next to my desk and the sign from his office hangs in my own office.

On the night Gary died I was distraught. I needed to do something to show him how much I loved him. And so I sat down and wrote this poem.

I lost a friend today.
I’ve looked everywhere.
Under the jokes we used to laugh over.
Between the pages of our memories.
I couldn’t find him.
He’s hiding.
I know he is.
He can’t be gone.
Where could he be?
It’s not like him to run off and leave me.

I lost a friend today.
He brought me into the sunshine.
He stood in front of me when they threw rocks.
He stood behind me when I needed a push.
I’ve got to find him.

I lost a friend today.
He’s gone.
I’m sure of that now.
There’s nothing I can do.
It’s out of my hands.

I lost a friend today.
A good friend.
And he lost me
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— by Steve Bluestein

#whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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“Every day, I drive past this home in my neighborhood, which was the former residence of Liberace from 1953 until around 1957, when he moved to Palm Springs. Seeing this home is a constant reminder of all the talented people we’ve lost over the years to AIDS. It’s just heart breaking.
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Although I didn’t know Liberace personally, on November 18, 1986, after class, I rushed from Westwood over to Hunter’s Books in Beverly Hills, where he was signing copies of his latest release, “The Wonderful Private World of Liberace.” I arrived just in time — about ten minutes before the signing was over and purchased 15 books to give as Christmas presents that year.
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I was the last person in line and the PR rep from the book publishing company was such a prude. She kept rushing everyone through the line as if she didn’t want to be there covering the event in the first place. I was afraid she wasn’t going to let him sign all of my books, however, once it was my turn, Liberace couldn’t have been nicer.
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Jokingly, referring to the character on the Beverly Hillbillies, I leaned over and said, “Who let Miss Jane Hathaway in here to stand guard??” Liberace burst into laughter and replied, “Don’t worry about her — I’ll deal with Missy — you just tell me what you want signed on each book. It’s my pleasure to sign as many as you’d like!” (It was obvious that pissed off Miss Hathaway!)
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After Liberace signed the last book, which was mine, he reached over and squeezed my hand and said, “I’m so glad I made an impact on the younger generation. And thank you for your warmth and humor, it really made my day!”
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In my opinion, he looked great — full of energy and just as charismatic as ever. I had no idea he was very ill at the time. Liberace died a little over two-months later on February 4, 1987.” — by Brian Edwards @EnterMissThang

#whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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“Today is the birthday of John Robert Burrows, my first gay partner. He died of AIDS after we had been together for 7 years. He was ill for most of those 7 years because he was diagnosed shortly after we met. He was a lovely man who slowly disintegrated as we who loved him watched helplessly. He was 34 years old when he died. I am thankful that he was a part of our lives, but I still feel the tremendous pain of learning to love someone while also learning to let him go. But it is a lesson that none of us escape. So here is to John R. We loved you, we laughed a lot together, you were a joy, and you will always be a part of our lives.” — by Don Landes-Mccullough
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#whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

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