Hi, and thank you for your interest in The Recollectors!
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. It will also 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. We will post:
-- Essays and book excerpts about the experience of having a parent living with HIV/AIDS (When did you find out? Who did you tell?) and of losing a parent to AIDS (How did the experience change your life? How do you absorb the history?).
-- Memoirs and remembrances. We want to honor the parents who were lost. What do you remember about your mother, your father? What do you remember from their healthy days, their sick days?
-- Interviews and Q&As. For those who aren't writers, or who may not be comfortable being "out," we will happily conduct interviews, and anonymously, if necessary. We believe every Recollector's story is vital and should be heard.
-- Photos. Because not everyone wants to share a written piece or be interviewed, we plan to post pictures of families impacted by AIDS, of parents and kids. So many of these mothers' and fathers' lives had to be hidden, or compromised, because of the stigma surrounding AIDS. Just sharing a photo is a powerful act.
We plan to enable audio and video so that people in our community will be able to upload video memoirs, mini-documentaries, old family movies, or interviews with each other.
The Recollectors will also exist in real life (IRL). 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.
And eventually, we'd like to publish an anthology of stories and writing from The Recollectors.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died of AIDS since the advent of the disease. Many of those lost also had children, but there's been no way for those survivors to come together as a community. With your help, there will be.
Thanks so much for your support!
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge is finding other members of this community who would also feel comfortable sharing their stories. So many of us were told to keep our parents' illness quiet, to lie about it, or just try to forget and "move on." We've started the process of community building by reaching out to AIDS organizations, locally in Boston and New York and across the country, but at this point, this is still an underground community.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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