In NYC in the ’70s, the AIDS epidemic took full flight, most noticeably in the arts community, as well-known people who died from it were named in local newspapers, their deaths described simply as untimely. Only the most prominent, like Michael Bennett, the creator of the musical Chorus Line, were mourned broadly, but many others, including members of my own theatrical community, succumbed unmentioned.
It took years for the epidemic to become the target of research that it is today, and to it a memorial has been erected in the West Village. When you go, stop by The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, on 13th Street, to see what is going on with AIDS now, become educated about its effects and learn what, if anything, you can do. While there, you must go upstairs to see the Keith Haring bathroom mural. Joyous, carefree, ironic, it has been lovingly preserved in a pretty natural way. About three blocks away is Stonewall. Need I write more?
At the time, there was a huge sense of mystery to the plague, resulting in several fantastic explanations of what was going on. That, combined with what was later discovered to be political unwillingness, added years of delay to the discovery of a solution.
The AIDS Memorial features the work of world-renowned visual artist Jenny Holzer. The engraved granite pavers include sections from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.