When AIDS first emerged in the U.S. decades ago, there was a collective cultural assumption that the disease primarily afflicted gay men -- men who did not leave behind survivors. Now, of course, we know that is false. Men and women of all sexual identities, income levels, and cultural backgrounds contracted HIV and in a variety of ways. Many of these people, including gay men, also left behind children. Because of the secrecy and stigma surrounding AIDS - both at the height of the crisis during the 80s and 90s, and today - a lot of us who lost parents to the disease learned to keep quiet and grieve in the shadows.
The Recollectors will be a place where people who lost parents to AIDS can share their singular experiences and break the cycle of stigma. We will post oral histories, photos, essays, book excerpts and interviews that will serve as an online memorial to the parents who died too soon, a repository of unique narratives, and a missing piece in the cultural history of AIDS.
The Recollectors will also exist offline. By partnering with organizations like Visual AIDS, Iris House, and the GLBT Historical Society, we plan to organize panels and talks that will broaden our community and further the conversation.