The last time I marched in Washington, DC was for the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. At that time I was a budding artist (photographer) in Minneapolis and I was horrified by the utter denial of the AIDS crisis by the Reagan administration. A close friend was dying and writing a book called Circle of Hope: Our Stories of AIDS, Addiction, and Recovery. I would see Perry at the YWCA writing and editing his in a notebook as he rode a stationary bicycle. We did not have laptops or smartphones yet. My pals and I went to the march and stayed on a goat farm in Maryland with an HIV+ friend who was working there in hopes of building his immune system with antibodies that occur in raw milk. I became obsessed with the feet of the living and photographed those standing near panels of their friends and loved ones on the AIDS Memorial Quilt and created a photo essay for a small art gallery in St. Paul. Coming from five generations of funeral directors, I was inclined towards thinking about death and how people memorialize one another.
The five classic stages of grief do not name ‘paralysis’ but that’s the how I describe my initial response the the United States presidential election in November; denial, anger, and depression rolled into one debilitating state before acceptance.
Eventually I joined millions of my fellow citizens in peaceful protest the day after the inauguration of the current POTUS (aka SCROTUS). This tradition of nonviolent resistance can and must keep our shared values alive and thriving. While I do not appreciate the new executive branch of government, I am grateful for the positive impact of the election: civic awareness and a call to duty has been awakened in a new generation of Americans.
Back to the present. My beloved and I decided to go to the Women’s March a couple days after the election. Then we realized that we should get married before the end of Obama’s administration. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed to officiate for us and we were married on 1/19/2017 at the Supreme Court. We honeymooned with hundreds of thousands of women and men in the Women’s March.
Yesterday we spent the afternoon in San Francisco with thousands of people for the #NoBanNoWall gathering. It occurs to me that we could be gathering our stories and voices in addition to signatures. Although I still believe that the Enchanted Book can add value to people’s personal lives, perhaps it is time to stitch together their voices to create a fabric that will become a virtual Names Quilt honoring the living, particularly those standing up for liberty, justice, and truth.