Yalies Look to Preserve Stories of Lives Lost to an Epidemic
Christopher Glazek and Richard Espinosa discuss the reason for the Yale AIDS Memorial Project
For some, memories of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and '90s remain burned into their memories. However, for the younger generation of gay men, who had no first hand experience of the AIDS crisis, their only exposure to it comes from chapters in textbooks and film footage. While those accounts may be striking, they can be difficult to identify with.
Now Christopher Glazek and Richard Espinosa—the founder and director, respectively, of the Yale AIDS Memorial Project—seek to preserve the stories of those who died of during the epidemic and making them accessible.
The project was recently featured in a New York Times story and is continuing to pick up supporters. We recently spoke with the duo to find out where the inspiration came from and why their generation would decide to dedicate so much time and energy to a time period that they never experienced themselves.
Out: How did the project start? What made you want to do it?
Christopher Glazek: I started to become interested in AIDS after I moved back to New York. I was at a friend’s house for a funeral and her parents had gone to Yale and their friends were in town and they were telling stories about their old roommates and pals and then someone said “of course they’re all dead now.” Everyone there understood it was because of AIDS but I didn’t and I asked “well, what happened to them?” That started me down a long path of reading about AIDS and the history of AIDS. I was interested in starting something that would intervene in the existing discourse, that wasn’t just a book or an essay. How can you investigate and collaborate in ways that are not just a single person writing.I think there’s been this mindset for a long time that there are too many urgent issues to deal with in the present, politically. I think until now it might have seemed a bit ridiculous to throw our attention to the past, but I think that the gay community is in a place of enough comfort where it does make sense to take a look at this history and really process it, because it hasn’t been processed.