Cleve Jones

   In between all of the job hunting, freaking out, schedule molding, ewok villaging and garyness I have managed to participate in some very, very enlightening/inspiring stuff (of which has allowed me to calm the hell down- I moved here for a dang reason right!!!???). I can thank my fellow-former Michigander RRRRRRRRickie, aka. rico, aka. “THE” Gould for keeping me posted on his comings and goings, which has allowed me to tag along.  

 Cleve Jones happened to be speaking at Lewis and Clark College and Rick and I happened to attend. For those of you who do not know of this man (i didn’t) he is the guy behind the AIDS quilt .    Cleve Jones told the tale of his journey both personal and political.

In the early 80s AIDS was poorly understood with deep negative stigma attached to it, crippling communities with fear. For years he had been watching his friends die deaths that the public had deemed shameful. *******Fear tends to infiltrate in terribly distorting ways masking compassion…….we see this phenomenon all the time-right?**********well Cleve was not going to allow for this stuff to erase the memories of the good people he knew and loved- his friends, who were sons and daughter and brothers and moms and sisters……..   He created the first AIDS quilt panel in honor of his friend Marvin Feldman. Since then the AIDS quilt has become the world’s largest community arts project commemorating the lives of over 85,000 people.   

   Cleve spoke of how the shame, the stigma, all the assumptions on sexuality and who was/is to blame, the hatred and the fear was being transformed and as the project drew the humanity out of people, those ready to wag the finger weren’t important anymore….. no, that stuff fell away and it was the names and stories and love that spilled out and over across the lawn of the white house.

A powerful story. 

*****Thanks Cleve.********


One response to “Cleve Jones

  1. Cleve really is a living bit of history. He left his midwest home right after high school, and hitchhiked to San Francisco’s Castro District to be at the epicenter of the gay liberation movement.
    He became an intern for SF’s first gay mayor, Harvey Milk. When Milk was assassinated, Jones was in charge of a memorable protest march.
    When AIDS started claiming lives at too fast of count for people to keep up with, that’s when Jones created the Quilt, as Leigh writes about.
    Today he speaks to students about living with AIDS and to remind them that it is not cured, and to take care in their sexual lives.
    I forgot what an eloquent speaker Cleve is and he had the total attention of the students in attendance.
    FYI, a Gus Van Sant movie is being made about Harvey Milk, with Sean Penn playing him, and Emile Hirsch, the young man from Into the Wild, is playing Cleve Jones. Small world.

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