Dan O'Neill

Sharing Your Perspective on the History of HIV/AIDS

Filed By Dan O'Neill | October 31, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS history, International AIDS Conference, LGBT History, LGBT history

In recognition of National LGBT History Month this October, I need your help.

I'm currently working with the Velvet Foundation HIV-AIDS-mental-health.jpegto develop an exhibition on the History of HIV/AIDS as told from the perspective of the LGBT community. Our aim is to develop this exhibition in advance of the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC.

As such, I've put together the following survey to solicit feedback in drafting a proposal and exhibition script. Integral to this process will be the input from a broad cross-section of the LGBT community; so please consider sharing your thoughts.

Here's the link: HIV/AIDS History Survey

For those of you not familiar with the Velvet Foundation, more about this fantastic organization follows after the jump.

The Velvet Foundation is a 501(c)3 with the purpose of collecting, preserving, and interpreting artifacts and other tangible and intangible objects pertaining to, or associated with, the history and culture in the United States of America of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other persons of non-traditional sexual orientation or gender identity ("LGBT Experience") and to establish, support, operate, and promote a national museum chronicling the LGBT Experience.


The declaration, "Here I am" is at the core of the Museum's exhibitions and programs.

"Here I am" is an invitation to all: See me, recognize me, and understand me as a person, regardless of how I define my gender and sexuality. In return, I acknowledge you: Here you are. We are different; each of us is unique. But, let us honor what connects us: the journey each of us has taken in search of self and community, love and respect, expression and fulfillment, equality and freedom, a sense of the past, and hopes for the future. Together, we can learn from each other and rise above the biases and misconceptions that may keep us from truly seeing each other.

"Here I Am," the Museum's core exhibition theme, is about the universal human search for identity.

It tells a story about a process and a journey: How "I" define "me"; how "me" connects to form the "we" of partners, spouses, friends, family, and communities; and what it means to be "me" in American history, culture, and society. All of us live in multiple, interacting worlds: self, family, community, and society. Our realities are shaped by our perspectives, and are often viewed through the lens of our gender expression and sexual orientation. Whether we are conscious of them or not, gender and sexuality are inherent parts of our individual identities.

"Here I Am," rich in personal narratives, spans 400 years of American history. Most of the stories are drawn from the past 150 years and occurred during the time lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people began to forge cultural identities and alliances with others like themselves. The resulting social institutions and communities, however, are not monolithic, but form a mosaic shaped by our difference- the multiple strands that make up our individual identities. Embracing this complexity, the Museum's exhibitions explore how the LGBT experience intersects all parts of American society, historically and culturally.


The national museum of American LGBT history and culture will be a forum for the identification, study, and dissemination of the social, historical, and cultural contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community--and its relation within the larger society--through collections, exhibitions, research, publications, and other public programs.


At its core, the Museum will be guided by a set of principles that embodies its mission, informs its vision, and directs its actions:

  • Preservation. Be a valued and respected member of the museum community as a collector and steward of a unique part of humanity's history and culture.
  • Scholarship. Serve as a resource center for researchers, scholars, and others interested in the study of LGBT history and culture.
  • Cultural Unification. Offer a place- and means- for LGBT people to pursue mutual goals and to foster a shared identity.
  • Education. Provide the resources and tools needed for teachers and students to explore, learn, and connect with the heritage of LGBT people.
  • Social Responsibility. Enhance the well-being of all human communities by providing a secure public forum for individuals and groups to confront, debate, and exchange ideas.
  • Inclusiveness. Welcome people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and ages to share in the LGBT experience as a critical park of America's history and culture.
  • National Outreach and Collaboration. Reach beyond Washington, D.C., to engage new audiences and to collaborate with museums and collections that are also dedicated to preserving and interpreting LGBT history and culture.
  • Innovation. Create experiences that position the Museum on the cutting edge of interpretive philosophy by incorporating novel exhibit design and techniques.

For more information about the Velvet Foundation please visit their website.

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