I attended the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation on April 25, 1993, with a group of friends, which turned out to be a powerful experience for me. It’s so hard to put that era and this historic event into a context that anyone not familiar with it will understand, but I can try.
I had moved to NYC in 1987 and thrilled at experiencing all that New York had to offer a young gay man of only 22. The Gay ’90s were an amazing time, but those years also involved major challenges.
It was the height of the AIDs pandemic. Visiting friends who were stricken with that disease and attending funerals of friends who had perished because of it were weekly pastimes. Everyone tried to do his or her part. No one sat on the sidelines back then (contrasting that reaction to the complacency that has gripped our country during COVID). I was involved with ACT UP, AmFar, Gods Love We Deliver, NY Forward Action, and many more grassroots organizations that were trying to make a difference.
We lived in a society then whose government leaders would not even speak the word “AIDS”. So, it was only natural for me and thousands of other New Yorkers, along with LGBTQers and allies from every state in the nation, to make the road trip to DC for the Marchin on Washington in 1993, a two-day affair which included an unfolding of the Names Project’s AIDS Memorial Quilt on the first day. I was 27 when these photos were taken.
We knew then, as we know now, that we have to stand up and be counted. We cannot be complacent and expect our rights to just be handed over to us. Back then, we lived by ACT UP’s motto, “Silence = Death” and the Queer Nation-inspired march chant “We’re Here, we’re Queer, Get Used To It!” Those messages are as powerful and as necessary today as they were then.