The Back Cover – I can´t get a good photo of it, so I present it like this instead.
I was present at the first display of The Quilt, in Washington 1987, and the photo is taken by me.
I had made three Panels, two of them were present, but not yet sewn on to the Quilt.
The one for Matti however, was in the Quilt and in the poster for THE NAMESPROJECT : A National AIDS Memorial. ( The poster has lost some of it´s colour through the years.) You find the Panel in the middle, to the left.
Matti was the first person I met with Kaposis Sarcoma. He was absolutely covered by it, especially his face. He was a young man from Finland, living in Sweden with his partner Mikael.
The other Panels were for Peter C. – the man whose ashes I helped bury – and for Roar, a Norwegian man living in Sweden, and as far as I know, the first man who died of AIDS in Sweden. I knew him and his former partner Sighsten Herrgård – who was a well known model and designer – and the first famous person in Sweden to come out as having AIDS, in 1987.
We later made a Panel for him as well.
The text on the Back Cover says it was a senseless time, when so many died, often after long suffering.
The antiretroviral medicines came in 1996, and changed people´s lives dramatically, but they unfortunately came too late for most of the HIV positive people in my work.
I am not sure people know what it was like during those difficult years. I certainly did not know how totally wasted a body can be that has a very low or no immune system. One seldom hears about this now, and one seldom hears about the people that died.
In Memory of…
It starts with Jan-Olof ”Nola” Morfeldt.
A much loved man, one of the founders of Noaks Ark, that unexpectedly died of cancer.
In Memory of all the people that took part in Medical trials, but never lived to see the arrival of the antiretrovirals.
In Memory of the people that couldn´t live with it, but killed themselves.
In Memory of the lonely and abandoned, that no one wanted to be with when they died.
In memory of the people that were murdered because of their sexual orientation.
Words of Gratitude.
I write about the gratitude I feel for the people in the book, for letting me follow them, and I thank their relatives, lovers and friends for all of their help with the book.
I also thank some other people, especially the late doctor Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Peter Månehall, Ombudsman for HIV-Sweden, who both encouraged my work.
I am very grateful for the work of the late Randy Shilts, (I am aware of the Patient Zero controversy) whose book I have read several times. During all those years, in times of doubt, I have only had to put my hand on, And The Band Played On, to continue.
Another help – as strange as that may sound – has been the many many obituaries in Bay Area Reporter, often sent to me by my friend, Ann Soucy, who worked there at the time.
I have read them over and over again, looking for information about the men; their lives and interests; who was with them when they died; how was their passing described, and what charities were people asked to donate to, in memory of them.
I want to end this blog post by quoting one of the obituaries, from January 21st 1993, about a man called David.
Didn´t like charity.
In his memory,
make a friend, share a drink
adopt a stray.
We love you Davey.