The AIDS Memorial, un compte Instagram pour préserver la mémoire des morts du sida

Parmi les comptes suivis par tous les gays (ou presque) d’Instagram, il y a évidemment ceux des beaux gosses du moment (comme Tom Daley ou Gus Kenworthy), ceux des stars de Ru Paul’s Drag Race ou encore les comptes humoristiques comme le toujours hilarant Best_of_Grindr. Bien qu’il ne soit ni sexy ni drôle, The AIDS Memorial mérite de faire partie de ces incontournables auquel tout Instagay qui se respecte devrait s’abonner.

. . “May 12th, marks 30 years since the world’s light was dimmed by Daniel Ofsthun’s (April 11, 1962 – May 12, 1988) death. He was only 26 years old. . I met Danny after moving to Minneapolis from my hometown of Austin, Minnesota in 1981. I was riding the shuttle bus into the city center and noticed him a few seats away. When our eyes connected, I was immediately lost in those stunning blue eyes. We fell in love. He later confessed he spotted me a few weeks prior. Danny was secretly hoped to run into me again so he rode the bus every day at the same time. . Our relationship as a couple didn’t even last a year but the bond and connection that grew between us, would define us forever. Danny’s caring heart, charm, wit and infectious laugh were effortless. I still cannot put into words what we were to each other but it was powerful. My inhale to his exhale. We also shared birthdays – April 11th and 12th — I’m one year older. . I always feel melancholy on Danny’s birthday thinking of how differently my life would be with him at my side. True soul mates. Leaving my home state was easy. Leaving my soul mate was extremely painful. My yin was missing its yang. . We only lasted being apart for just over a year before the separation anxiety won over and he moved there. Once Danny arrived, our rhythms of life were once again in-sync. Life was perfect — for 2.5 more years. . Danny’s mother never accepted his lifestyle and she blamed me for his death. Denial was the theme of his funeral. I was not welcome. 6 of us “outcasts” had our own memorial honoring him and released balloons as our farewell. . Danny’s AIDS Quilt captures that moment – 6 balloons connected and one solo. I would carry his mother’s blame along with my unmeasured grief for several years until one day, she finally reached out to me and reconciled. . Since his passing, I have always sensed him as one of my "watchers" a group that unfortunately keeps expanding now including my husband “Potsy” who we lost in 2013. I feel them often in unison. Such a gift. I love you Danny – Always.” — by Scott Arnold @living_the_sky_life

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Chaque jour ou presque, ce compte tenu par un Écossais seulement connu sous le prénom de Stuart publie “des histoires d’amour, de deuil et de souvenir”. Soit une ou plusieurs photos, accompagnée(s) d’une courte biographie (en anglais) d’une personne célèbre ou anonyme morte du sida, envoyées par un de ses proches. Le credo du AIDS Memorial est tout entier contenu dans le hashtag qui ponctue chaque publication : #WhatIsRememberedLives, “ce dont on ne se souvient ne meurt pas”.

Ce sont généralement des hommes, et presque tous sont Américains. Les photos sont, la plupart du temps, un peu jaunies ou en noir et blanc, mais, pour une fois, les filtres d’Instagram n’y sont pour rien. Elles sont extraites de vieux albums de souvenirs pieusement conservés par les proches des disparus : amis, compagnons ou anciens amants qui n’ont pas oublié les années terribles d’avant l’arrivée des trithérapies.

. . “Tom McKernan — pictured here on April 16, 1982 — was one of those “best friends.” We had met through Michael, an adorable hustler boy I had a crush on in Chicago, who one day took me to the rooftop pool of the then manager of the Chicago Gucci store, Antonio. That’s where I met Tom, who not two weeks later, serendipitously turned up at my door with another best friend as her boyfriend. By the way she is still among my best friends today. From that moment on, Tom and I became hang-out and party buddies in Chicago, and eventually the two of us would be half of a regular posse. The four of us, Tom, Ricky, Caroline and I would be inseparable for about three years except when I was jaunting around the world as a flight attendant, and until I left Chicago in late 1981 and moved to NYC. Shortly thereafter, Tom also left Chicago and moved back with his family in suburban Michigan. I hate to preface Tom’s life with his death. But sometime in the late 1980s, Tom disappeared. I was told later that he died of AIDS.” — by Lucien Samaha @luciensamaha_onfilm . 📷 © @luciensamaha_onfilm . #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids .

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La première chose qui saute aux yeux lorsqu’on scrolle sur le compte The AIDS Memorial, c’est la beauté solaire des disparus. Quelques-uns sont représentés dans leurs derniers jours et leur corps porte les stigmates de la maladie. Mais la plupart apparaissent jeunes, souriants et en bonne santé, au milieu de leurs amis ou dans les bras de leur compagnon. Le contraste avec le texte qui accompagne les photos n’en est que plus grand. Les quelques lignes retracent la vie de ces êtres partis trop tôt et la relation qu’ils entretenaient avec l’auteur de cette mini-biographie.

Bien qu’il compte plus de 50 000 abonnés et 3800 publications, The AIDS Memorial n’est pas à l’abri de l’arbitraire des géants du Web 2.0. En septembre, Stuart s’est vu refuser l’accès à son compte. Sans qu’aucune raison lui soit donnée, plusieurs centaines de ses publications ont également été effacées d’Instagram, provoquant la colère de celles et ceux qui avaient choisi de partager leurs souvenirs de leurs proches disparus. Pour certains, cette disparition brutale de leurs photos s’apparentait même à une “profanation de sépulture”. Après quelques échanges d’emails avec Instagram, tout est revenu à la normale mais le mystère de cette suspension et de ces suppressions temporaires demeure. Le sida fait-il encore peur ? N’a-t-il pas sa place sur les réseaux sociaux ? Toujours est-il qu’à l’avenir, en cas de suppression du compte Instagram, on pourra se rabattre sur la page Facebook du AIDS Memorial.

. . “#DallasWilliams, (September 16, 1955 — April 19, 1993), I used to see you out in Castro bars, dancing. Always by yourself. I thought you might be a dance teacher. And were always the best looking man on the floor. When my back went out twice, the doctor told me to get regular massages. I found you in the Bay Area Reporter and and went. You kept my back whole. . I saw you were an artist, like me. Your exquisite male nudes all over your walls. We connected them. We found we both came from Detroit. You said being gay got you out to California and saved you because your brothers were always caught up in Detroit gang related troubles. I knew you were a nurse too. . One day, you told me one of your brothers had been murdered. We wept together. Then nor long after, another. Murdered. And then not long after, a third. We wept together. You told me you had sero-converted. You expected to die young. Sometimes we made love tenderly after a massage. Mostly you healed me. More than my back, too. . One day I came back from a trip, and screamed when I saw your obituary in the Bay Area Reporter. Diabetes A. You never told me. Nor that you did drag. Modeled (of course). Made sex videos. You were a photographer. You were part of ACT-UP San Francisco — working against police brutality, and in the Timothy Lee anti-lynching campaign; you were active in the Revolutionary Worker's League, and a militant union member and organizer. . So many knew you in different ways. I feel blessed, lucky, fortunate to have known you in the way I did. I love you.” —— by Mark . #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #endaids #neverforget .

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Si vous souhaitez vous aussi rendre hommage à un proche mort du sida, vous pouvez envoyer une ou plusieurs photos (jusqu’à dix), accompagnée(s) d’un texte de présentation en anglais (400 mots maximum) à Stuart via l’adresse email theaidsmemorial@yahoo.fr.