Here is a bit of information about how this work started.
But first a little about me. I am a Swedish woman, born 1951. I have written some books, and one of them had to do with dying patients in a hospital in Stockholm and at a hospice outside London. I was involved in the gay movement when HIV/AIDS came, so it was very close to us.
In the summer of 1986 I worked in a graveyard in Stockholm, thinking outdoor work would do me good. But I was depressed after a good friends suicide in 1984. He was a young gay man, one of the most cheerful and happy men I had ever met, so his suicide was a shock. Much later did I wonder if it had something to do with HIV. He left no message.
I had different chores at the graveyard, one of them was to take care of boxes with ashes that undertakers brought to the graveyard, and take them to the chapel. There was no order in that chapel. The boxes stood everywhere, upside down, on chairs, on the floor, and on the hat rack. I thought it was unworthy and I complained about it to the ordinary staff, but they thought I was just oversensitive.
One day we had some visitors during our coffee break, and their favorite subject seemed to be to talk about gay men and AIDS, in graphic details – how they got the virus. I tried to stop them by telling them that I had known a man that had died of AIDS, and that his ashes were actually to be buried in this very graveyard. But that did not stop them, far from, so I left the room, almost dizzy of all I had heard.
That was the day I started thinking about writing about people with AIDS.
A month later one of the workers told me to pick up a box of ashes, that he for some reason had placed on the hat rack in our dressing room. I reached up to get it, and I found to my amazement that it was the man that had died of AIDS, Peter C.
I became very upset and brought the ashes to the boss and said that this box, this man, must not to be placed in the chapel among the other´s, and that we had to bury his ashes immediately, because I knew his partner was also sick. And early next morning, his ashes were buried.
After that I started preparing for this work, having no idea where it would take me, nor that it would take so many years.
In 2018 I published a book called There are few who talk about them. It is a diary from 1985, when I made my first note about AIDS, until 2018, where I present notes and interviews with people with AIDS, family members, partners, and also people working with AIDS, nurses, a priest, and an undertaker. That is the Swedish part of the work.
What I will do here is something similar, but most of it has to do with the people I met in San Francisco and Oakland, in 1987.
It has been my hope to make a book, but I think it is wise to do it this way. It is really hard to get a book published, especially on this subject, and so long ago – and I don´t want the people I have interviewed and followed to have given of themselves to me, in vain.
I have now, in August 2023, started a blog beside this blog, with Shanti stories, as there will be an anniversary in 2024 -Shanti´s 50 year anniversary, so I will pick out the people in the blog that are associated to Shanti, and I will add more stories and interviews to it during the rest of this year 2023, and during 2024, along with the work I do with this original blog.