about the project

the AIDS activist project

In late 1988, I found myself in a meeting of the AIDS activist group, ACT UP New York. I was told to go there. My partner of 7 years had just died of AIDS, this was supposed to be the place for me to be.

ACT UP was a grass roots group of activists who came together after the fiery1987 call to action speech by Larry Kramer in New York.

They were loud, they were impassioned, they were scary, most of all they were angry. And they were effective, they changed the course of AIDS history.

As I became more familiar with ACT UP and its members I saw how dedicated they were and how committed to their cause they were. I though ‘People need to know…”
I began this project in early 1989 in New York City. I got to know people in the group better and being a photographer, it was just natural for me to want to photograph them.

The people in this book fought to challenge the approach to AIDS. Today, with out them, we might not be where we are today. This movement, these people are a part of LGBTQ her/history and proved to be an effective activist group.

It’s hard for some to remember the early days of the epidemic and how we got to where we are now. Today AIDS is not the killer it used to be.

This book is dedicated to the power of activism, the spirit of the people who grace its pages, It is dedicated to the ones we lost along the way. They did not die in vain, their activism and spirit lives on today.

Please visit “the images” section of this site to see work from the book.

the AIDS activist project is an independently produced and distributed book. It is available for purchase here.

-bill bytsura



10 thoughts on “about the project

  1. Hello from Perth Australia,can you give me the publisher of the
    Book? Is it coming to Australia,were can i get a copy.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Stephen, thanks for the message from Australia! In 1994, I think thats the right year, 4 portraits from tis series were included in the exhibition, “Don’t Leave Me This Way, Art in the Age of AIDS”. I was very happy to know they were being seen on the other side of the globe.

      I did inquire about the shipping to Australia, it would be around $35.00 to ship, But I can send it to anywhere in the world. If the cost is ok, I can send one out to you. Just go to billbytsura.com to order, it will tell you what the shipping will be before you confirm your order

      Or Maybe someday soon, I’ll be hosting an event in Australia, you never know!

  2. I ordered this at the library where I work and they have purchased it. Can’t wait to get my hold. My father’s brother died of AIDS in 89, the year before I was born. He was not an activist, just a man. Still, I like to be able to access information about this period in our history because it is relatively unknown to me, even with the direct results visible in my family.

    • Hi Elizabeth, I sent this out earlier this week. You should get it any day now, Thank you for supporting the project.

      I hope that this book fills in another piece of the story for many people. It’s important for people t know how we got here from the days when an AIDS diagnosis was a death sentence. A lot of people fought to change things and their efforts paid off.

      Please accept my heartfelt sympathy for the loss of your Uncle. But he was not just a man, his life and death inspired others to act, he was an inspiration to many.
      Bill Bytsura

  3. Thank You So Much for doing the project and recording this history. I am working on a film documentary about an AIDS Activist with ACT UP/Los Angeles and am wondering if there is a list of the people you photographed.

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