As World AIDS Day draws to a close here in California, I finally want to share with everyone the panel I had made in Richard Amsel's memory, for inclusion within the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
We did a quick unfolding of the panel next to The Wall Las Memorias AIDS Monument, within Los Angeles' Lincoln Park. I also shot some video of the nearby murals, as people gathered in preparation for this evening's candlelight vigil.
I think the younger generations may never fully grasp the sheer magnitude of the devastation left in the wake of AIDS, nor the maddening political and social indifference, if not outright cruelty, so many of its victims were forced to endure during the Reagan/Bush eras. (That George H.W. Bush should die on World AIDS Day -- of all days -- only seems to eclipse the untold number of other souls we should be remembering.)
Yes, we are all mortal. Yes, life is often painful and unfair. It is cold and cruel, torturous and treacherous. But the profound, epic tragedy of AIDS goes far beyond the number of lives lost, or the physical suffering of those afflicted with the disease. The early years of AIDS serve as a harsh testament to the lesser angels of our nature, where those who held positions of power had the ability -- but lacked the will, humanity, or backbone -- to help those who so desperately needed it.
In the year 1985, there were reportedly 5,636 known deaths from AIDS in the United States. Richard Amsel was just one of them. Yet throughout the course of my interviewing people for this film, I've come to a sobering realization: That with each death, some of the best parts of the rest of us die along with it. When someone like Amsel -- someone magical -- disappears, some of the magic within us disappears, too.
My heartfelt sympathies go out to all those who mourn and remember today. We need their magic now, more than ever.
(Very special thanks to Chris Pate and Paul Laukaitis for their generous time and help today.)