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    About Our Cover: June 9, 2022

    Three thousand panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display June 11 and 12 in Golden Gate Park to mark the Quilt’s 35th Anniversary. While this will be the largest display of the Quilt in San Francisco history, the number of panels is a mere fraction of the nearly 50,000 that make up the handcrafted 54-ton tapestry, which serves as a living memorial and important HIV prevention education tool.

    The San Francisco Bay Times cover for this issue highlights 12 of the panels:

    Marvin Feldman

    Activist and founding San Francisco Bay Times contributor Cleve Jones created the first panel for the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a project that he conceived in 1985 after viewing placards—commemorating those lost to AIDS—that were placed on the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building and that looked like a patchwork quilt. This initial panel is in memory of Cleve’s close friend Marvin Feldman (1953–1986), a theater student who worked as a popular waiter at Café Flore and the long since closed Island Restaurant. Feldman was so handsome that even his obituary mentioned this, along with praising many aspects of his character.

    Bill Hartman

    Many associated with the San Francisco Bay Times are represented on the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Perhaps the most prominent is Bay Times Co-Founder Bill Hartman. Founding news editor Randy Alfred recently wrote: “Bill faced AIDS with his accustomed stoicism, a trait that had served him well all the time that I knew him. Some foes, alas, are impossible to overcome, and HIV/AIDS was still insurmountable at that time. He served our community well, and we should not forget him.”

    Jon Sims

    After hearing Supervisor Harvey Milk deliver his “Hope Speech,” Sims (1947–1984) was inspired to form the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps (now San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band), which was, at its founding in June 1978, the first openly gay musical group ever formed in United States history. In the same year, he founded the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, which was the first openly gay American choral group.

    San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus

    The impact of HIV/AIDS on the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus was so devastating that Dr. Stan Hill, the Chorus’ conductor from 1989–2000, said that he spent every Wednesday and Sunday visiting sick members in hospitals. Chorus members who died of AIDS and other causes became known as the “Fifth Section”:


    Singer Sylvester (1947–1988) was a legendary performer whose androgynous appearance and falsetto singing voice led to electrifying shows that inspired many in the LGBTQ community and beyond. He became a “Queen of Disco” with numerous dance hits, and especially the chart topping “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” A longtime Castro resident, Sylvester had a will that stated all royalties from the future sales of his music be devoted to Project Open Hand and the AIDS Emergency Fund.

    Ryan White

    White (1971–1990) became a national poster child for HIV/AIDS in the U.S. after failing to be readmitted to school following his diagnosis in 1984. He contracted the virus via a blood transfusion, and his widely publicized case evidenced that HIV/AIDS was not limited to members of the LGBTQ community or by age. Or by sex: Elizabeth Glaser, who was the wife of actor Paul Michael Glaser, also contracted the virus from a blood transfusion. She unknowingly passed it to her infant daughter Ariel through breastfeeding. Both Elizabeth and Ariel died of AIDS and are memorialized on the Quilt.

    Freddie Mercury

    British singer/songwriter Mercury (1946–1991) achieved worldwide fame as the lead vocalist of the rock band Queen, whose music is still popular today and was most recently presented to a global audience during the Queen’s (Queen Elizabeth II, in this case) Platinum Jubilee.

    Rock Hudson

    Although discreet regarding his sexual orientation, it was a known fact amongst Hudson’s (1925–1985) colleagues in the film industry that he was a gay man. In 1984, he was diagnosed with AIDS and the following year he became one of the first celebrities to disclose his diagnosis. He was also the first major celebrity to die from an AIDS-related illness, on October 2, 1985, at age 59.


    Flamboyant both on and off stage, musician Liberace (1919–1987) at the peak of his fame from the 1950s to the 1970s was the highest-paid entertainer in the world. Although he never publicly acknowledged that he was gay, his close friend, actress Betty White (1922–2021), confirmed in a 2011 interview that Liberace was gay and said that she was often used as a “beard” by his managers to counter public rumors of his homosexuality.


    Rapper Eazy-E (1964–1995), often referred to as the “Godfather of Gangsta Rap,” led the group N.W.A. and its label Ruthless Records. His debut studio album Straight Outta Compton is now ranked among the greatest and most influential albums ever. Married and with 11 children at the time of his passing, he is one of many individuals who identified as straight who are now honored on the Quilt.

    San Francisco State University

    Blocks of the Quilt usually consist of several panels, but in this instance, the block is entirely devoted to those lost to HIV/AIDS from San Francisco State University (SFSU). With its colorful components and many details, this block is a beautiful work of art in addition to serving as a loving tribute.

    Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

    Since their first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1979, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have devoted themselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity, and spiritual enlightenment. Several died of HIV/AIDS, and are commemorated on the Quilt. They and other Sisters who have since passed due to AIDS and from other causes are referred to as “Nuns of the Above”:

    Published on June 9, 2022