About The Acute Project

Acute — adj. —sharp or severe in effect; intense.

East Village artist David Wojnarowicz at an ACT UP demonstration in 1988. (Jacket of David Wojnarowicz, December 2014, David Wojnarowicz Collection, Fales Library of New York University, New York City, courtesy of Sang Bleau)

While it is not possible to describe the effects of the AIDS Crisis through a single two-syllable word, I believe the word “acute” comes closest to describing the devastation that the AIDS Crisis wreaked across the United States and the world from 1980 to 2000. Very few epidemics have been so targeted in what demographics are affected.

This project has been created out of passion and anger, out of grief and remembrance, out of love and respect. The official title of my project is “The Cultural Effects of the AIDS Crisis on Greenwich Village’s LGBTQ+ community from 1980-2000,” and my work focuses on the Village as a whole and the impact that AIDS had on the vibrant LGBTQ+ community in the area. By focusing on culture, —with “culture” being defined as music, art, media, writing, sexual identity, etc.— I am striving to brings new ideas to the table in terms of research regarding the AIDS Crisis in the Village. My hope with my work is to bring forth new ideas that focus on the very human aspect of the epidemic. As such, I find that it would not do my topic justice to condense my research to a research paper, and I am ecstatic to present instead a digital oral history archive of the AIDS Crisis in Greenwich Village.

I hope that my work will allow me to act as a moderator for the invaluable information and stories that have been shared with me throughout my research process, and that the words of those who I interview will resonate with my peers and will be meaningful for all who visit my digital archive. I hope that the stories shared will educate my peers and the generations to follow on the severity of the AIDS Crisis, an epidemic that is far from over both nationally and internationally. My hope for my peers is that they will not only view the interviews that I provide, but that they will explore the background information that I have provided on the History of the LGBTQ+ Community in Greenwich Village and on the History of the AIDS Crisis as a whole, and will explore the resources and sources that helped provide my project a backbone. These two aspects of my project can be found under the “Background” and “Resources” tabs, and are vital to understanding the origins of the AIDS Crisis and to understanding the cultural losses that occurred during the epidemic.

It is foolish to mourn the loss of culture over the loss of cultural influencers, but the devastation of the AIDS Crisis on the Village’s LGBTQ+ community killed not only artists and writers, activists and educators, lovers and friends, but also the potential cultural changes that these cultural influencers may have crafted. Who would mentor the next generation of LGBTQ+ individuals through artwork, activism, written word, and education when so many potential mentors and leaders in the LGBTQ+ community died so early in their lives and careers? Furthermore, how are these past cultural influencers remembered today by the very people who survived the AIDS Crisis in the Village?

Through this archive, I hope to answer these questions and to help create a wider generational understanding of the AIDS Crisis itself. Furthermore, I hope to preserve and to share the stories that may have otherwise been lost to time and to make permanent the cultural changes that AIDS brought.