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WATCH: Incredible Arial View of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on NY's Governor's Island

WATCH: Incredible Arial View of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on NY's Governor's Island

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The 2,000 New York-made panels from the massive AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed spanned the equivalent of a football field and also included works by Giorgio Armani, Anna Sui, Ralph Lauren and BCBG in honor of those in the industry that were lost to the epidemic.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt returned to New York City for a two-day public display on Governor’s Island this month for a special display of  2,000 of the panels featuring 5,014 individual New Yorkers who are being remembered. A special opening ceremony presented the quilt on Governor’s Island on August 11, as a gift from Kiehl’s since 1851 to New York City. Kiehl’s USA President Chris Salgardo, amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost, supermodel/actor Tyson Beckford and actresses Katee Sackhoff and Vanessa Marcil lead the tradition of calling out the names of those remembered on the memorial.

The quilt was originally conceived in the 1980s by activist Cleve Jones when he learned that over 1,000 people had lost their lives to AIDS in San Francisco. Jones was inspired by seeing all the names of those lost on display, and made plans to make a larger memorial to be known as the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The very first quilt panel was made by Jones, in memory of his friend Marvin Feldman. Each panel is measured 3 by 6 feet, and is sewn to other panels to create a square block of names.

The quilt was first displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in 1987 memorializing the names from cities most affected by AIDS: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Atlanta. Since then, the quilt has grown exponentially. The last time the quilt was shown in its entirety was in 1996. The New York display only covered a portion of the AIDS Memorial Quilt because of how big the quilt has grown. The entire quilt now holds 48,000 panels, with contributions from people in each state in the U.S. as well as from 28 other countries.

On the portion of quilt’s 2,000 panels displayed in New York, 5,014 names are remembered. This display of the quilt has the square footage of a football field, spanning at 240 by 240 feet for a total of 57,600 square feet. Most were made by or for New Yorkers and leading fashion houses such as Giorgio Armani, Anna Sui, Ralph Lauren and BCBG have also created panels to honor those in the industry that were lost to the pandemic.

“The AIDS Memorial Quilt is a prominent and moving symbol of the immense human tragedy of AIDS, in its many roles The Quilt not only educates and inspires, but also serves as a monument for those who have lost loved ones to the disease,” amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost said. “It also reaffirms our commitment to funding the innovative research that will ultimately deliver a cure so that one day, we will no longer have to sew another panel into The Quilt.”

The NAMES Project Foundation, established in 1987, is the caretaker of The AIDS Memorial Quilt. Kiehl’s has made a commitment to supporting HIV/AIDS organizations since 1996, and has raised approximately $3 million for HIV/AIDS organizations. amfAR, The Foundation for Aids Research has invested more than $388 million in its programs supporting AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of AIDSD-related public policy.

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Lynn De La Cruz

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Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.