New Haven, CT
Verenigde Staten
Aids Memorial Project Yale sinds 30 Juni 2012
30 namen
A Project by Yale Alumni Profiles Lives Lost to AIDS
Death began to monopolize Christopher Glazek’s interest a few months after he graduated from Yale in 2007. Summoned to Baltimore by a dear college friend, he was attending the funeral of her two younger siblings, who had died in a house fire that had also injured her father, a Yale alumnus. Afterward, some of the mourners, most of them Yale-connected, gathered around a kitchen table to console, commiserate and reminisce. Out of the ether of nostalgia, an absent alumnus, Frank Gaines (class of 1975), was brought up in conversation: It turned out he had died young, and AIDS had killed him. “Everyone was laughing about how funny he was and what great clothes he wore, and they were talking about Frank’s friends, and then suddenly someone said, ‘Of course, Frank’s gone, and all his friends are gone, too,’ ” recalled Mr. Glazek, now 27 and a senior editor at the magazine n+1. His naïveté back then still astounds him. “I asked, ‘What do you mean?’ and someone said, ‘That whole generation, it was the AIDS era.’ ” Mr. Glazek remembers being “floored.” “I think,” he continued, “I asked something stupid like, ‘So a lot of Yalies died from AIDS?’ ” They had, especially alumni from the 1970s and early ’80s. “The thought immediately crossed my mind,” he said, “that I would likely have died from AIDS, too, had I been born 25 years earlier.”

Mr. Glazek, who is gay and was untouched by H.I.V. or AIDS and unencumbered by close ties to anyone who had succumbed to it, experienced a jolt of recognition that eventually led him to create the Yale AIDS Memorial Project, a poignant testimonial to the damage wrought by AIDS at Yale. An initial installment, paid for by Mr. Glazek and other alumni, was published in May, and recently the project received a $50,000 grant toward its next phase, a Web site.
Mr. Glazek’s ruminations on AIDS and the lost generation of men who preceded him at Yale were rekindled in 2009 at a party in New York City. Mark Beard, a gay artist, was the host, and the centerpiece of the festivities was a Christmas tree covered with unique ornaments. Mr. Beard’s artistic friends had been contributing them since the early 1980s, and he matter-of-factly informed Mr. Glazek that half the ornament donors were dead. When asked why, Mr. Beard responded, “AIDS, dear.” Again, Mr. Glazek was shocked by his own tone-deafness.
He began researching the history of the epidemic and revisiting his Yale major. “A big part of my work involved the study of collective memory, particularly surrounding the Holocaust, where you had 20 years of silence and then an explosion of interest, a memory boom,” said Mr. Glazek, who in his earlier years attended the Roeper School, a progressive private school founded in suburban Detroit by Holocaust survivors. “Now the Holocaust is a standard unit of American secondary education. I started to wonder how the same thing might be accomplished for AIDS.”
The answer came to him in 2010 in a series of brainstorming sessions; the n+1 staff visualized change-the-world scenarios framed around core themes like money, food and sex. “For the sex session I proposed something I called the Yale AIDS Memorial Project,” he said, “which would leverage the Internet and collegiate social network and draw attention to a forgotten past.”

The first, fledgling phase of the project, a journal containing deeply researched and anecdotal profiles and haunting photographs of eight Yale alumni (including the poet and author Paul Monette, winner of a National Book Award in 1992) and scholars like Jack Winkler, a classics professor who, in 1977, was the only faculty organizer for Yale’s first gay rights week. The journal took a year to compile. With help from Richard Espinosa (class of 2010), a graphic designer who is shepherding the Web site, and a few recent graduates, Mr. Glazek published 1,000 copies. They hope to have an operational Web site by November. For now, details about the project and portions of the journal can be found at the Web site —

Although Columbia University has a directory of alumni whose deaths were attributed to AIDS, Mr. Glazek and his board of advisers, which includes George Chauncey (class of 1977), a Yale professor of history; and Mark Schoofs (class of 1985), who won a 2000 Pulitzer Prize for a series on AIDS in Africa, believe the Yale project is the first attempt by any institution to compile a tribute of this magnitude.
Institutional memory runs deep at Yale, Mr. Espinosa said, with one exception: the university had not commemorated about 450 students, professors, alumni and staff members lost to AIDS. “These people were here and they’re not anymore, and how we remember them is up to us,” Mr. Espinosa said. “I feel ghosts everywhere when I’m walking around New York City and the Yale campus. What we want to make is much larger than Yale: our Web site will be a proof-of-concept model that other colleges can use.”

Yale’s administration has given the project its blessing.
“One reads so much about this generation being academically adrift and glued to their texting and tweeting, but this is a serious piece of work devoted to real research that incorporates visual technology as well as verbal recollection,” said Joseph W. Gordon, dean of undergraduate education at Yale College. “It’s not as though the AIDS epidemic is over anywhere in the world, not even in New Haven.”
Mr. Glazek had barely heard of AIDS until college. “We mostly saw it as an African problem, and a little bit as an inner-city American problem,” he said. “Nobody ever talked about it as a disease among Yale students and staff.” Nobody except, perhaps, the students in Professor Chauncey’s lecture course on lesbian and gay history in the United States. The lecture hall is always “pin-drop quiet” for the AIDS segment, Professor Chauncey said. Mr. Espinosa, 23, took the course in 2009 and called it the game-changer that prompted him to join Mr. Glazek’s team a year ago. Mr. Glazek passed the project’s baton to Mr. Espinosa this spring not only because of his graphics expertise, but also because he himself is moving to Los Angeles to write a book.
“I’m working on a proposal for an apocalyptic history of ‘the incarceration era’ using Randy Shilts’s ‘And the Band Played On’ as a model,” he said. “I want to do for incarceration what Shilts did for AIDS.” What the Yale project will do for AIDS is a work in progress. “The memory boom has begun, and I want YAMP to help shape it,” Mr. Glazek said. More immediately, Mr. Espinosa added, the project is an edifying and cautionary tale for students. “There continues to be death, and there continues to be backsliding among people my age at institutions like Yale who have this idea that no one you’re hooking up with could possibly have H.I.V., that it’s not something an Ivy League student would have,” he said. “They’re wrong, and it terrifies me.”
Photos © Gordon Welters & Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times

4 Juli 2012
Robin Finn, New York