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Pride Profile: Cleve Jones. Activist/Conceiver of the “NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt”

B. 1954

Weighing an estimated 54 tons, it is the largest piece of community folk art in the world, the “NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt” was conceived in 1985, by activist and co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Cleve Jones, and is a living tribute to those who had died at time when families and friends could not hold proper memorials because funeral homes and cemeteries were refusing AIDS victims. Quilts can be made from a variety of different materials for a variety of different purposes, for example you could create a memory t-shirt quilt for someone about to leave for college, or something like this memorial quilt to help those suffering from grief.

Drawing his inspiration from people lost to AIDS whose names were written on sheets of paper, and taped to a building, Jones saw the patchwork design, but on a grander scale; 3’x6’, the size of a human grave and sewn together as one.  Displayed for the first time in1987 on the National Mall in Washington DC, the NAMES Project was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and the documentary “Uncommon Threads” won an Academy Award in 1989. 

Last seen in its entirety in 1996, sadly it has become too large to ever be displayed completely again.  Yet, it is estimated that The Quilt only represents 20% of those people lost to AIDS.

“My memory of it, when I think back, it seems like it was just an avalanche.  It was like one week we’d never heard of it, and the next week everybody started to die.”

  • Cleve Jones

Lean More HERE

Visit the official Cleve Jones’ website HERE

For information about viewing The Quilt as well as a digital directory of panels visit

Today is National HIV Testing Day,

theOUTfront pauses to remember all those whom we have lost to AIDS, and urges its readers everywhere to get tested and know their status.

For information about getting tested HERE


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