about the project

the AIDS activist project

It’s been 50 years since the Stonewall Riots, 49 years since the first Pride March, 38 years since the first AIDS cases were reported, and 32 years since ACT UP began.

That’s a lot of history. We fought hard for the progress we’ve made. One theme that runs through all of this is activism. We’ve made tremendous progress in LGBTQ Rights and the fight against AIDS.

I came of Activist Age in 1988 after my partner died of AIDS. Soon after his death, I went to an ACT UP meeting in NYC. I met some amazing people there, dedicated, smart, angry and effective. I saw how dedicated they were and how committed to their cause they were. I thought “People need to know…”

ACT UP was a grass roots group of activists who came together after the fiery 1987 call to action speech by Larry Kramer in New York. They were loud, they were impassioned, they were angry. And they were effective, they changed the course of AIDS history.

Out of my experience in ACT UP came “the AIDS activist project”, remembering and honoring the people who fought and changed the course of the AIDS crisis. The desperation felt in the ’80’s created the in-your-face activism and that brought us where we are today. AIDS activism changed things for the generations that have come since, who didn’t have to live through the nightmare of the AIDS Crisis.

History will remember this activism, and we will remember the ones we lost to AIDS, especially during Pride. They fought AIDS, but didn’t make it here with us to celebrate.

This project and the book were a long time in the making, over 30 years. In the AIDS activist project, I’m able to share the my experience and the people I met along the way.
In the book you will get to know the people, the activists who fought and made a difference in the book, Anne, Moises, Tom, Kate, Floyd, Mona, Tigger, and so may other amazing activists.

This book is dedicated to the power of activism. It is a powerful and compelling tribute, celebrating the spirit of the people who grace its pages. It is dedicated to the ones we lost along the way. Though they are no longer with us, their activism and spirit paved the way and lives on today.

the AIDS activist project is an independently published and distributed book, and is available through this link.

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

13 thoughts on “about the project

  1. This project is my life’s work, and it represents the work of so many lives that were lost too soon, too painfully. The book you’re helping to make is an object of remembrance, celebration, education, activism and art.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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!
      Bill

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