ART: San Francisco’s Militant AIDS Activism In Black And White

For San Francisco AIDS activists, a black-and-white photograph, stunning and stark, can be worth a thousand angry words: With “Life & Death in Black & White,” the GLBT History Museum highlights the work of five queer photographers who used their cameras to capture the gay community’s despair and outrage during the early years of the AIDS crisis in San Francisco.

Photographers Jane Philomen Cleland, Patrick Clifton, Marc Geller, Rick Gerharter and Daniel Nicoletta not only documented one of queer history’s most riotous times, from 1985 to 1990, but created transcendent tributes that both honored the dead and inspired the dying to keep fighting.

From ACT UP to the AIDS quilt, these images prove that gay life wasn’t always a big rainbow.

The GLBT History Museum explains their exhibit further:

Some of their images have become icons of the era; others have never before been publicly displayed. All of them portray civil disobedience as a response not only to a fatal disease, but also to discrimination, indifference and official neglect. All bear forceful witness to a time when San Francisco experienced both some of its darkest hours and one of its most inspiring movements for social justice.

“Life & Death in Black & White” will be on display at the GLBT History Museum until June 30.

Click through to see a special photo preview of the exhibit.

Photos courtesy of the GLBT History Museum