The AIDS Activist Project

Several months ago, I was clicking around online and I stumbled upon a photograph taken in 1989 of my uncle Hal Haner. Hal was my mother’s younger brother, and he was an artist who lived in New York City. Hal died in 1990 at the age of 32. He had AIDS.

Hal Haner (photo by Bill Bytsura)
Hal Haner (photo by Bill Bytsura)

I’ve come to learn that the photo of Hal is part of the important work of photographer Bill Bytsura. Bytsura set out in 1989 to document the activism that was happening around the country and around the word in those days to help combat the AIDS epidemic. He photographed activists, starting with Hal, from 1989 to 1998. The 225 photographs have been in storage, along with statements and negatives, in New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections Downtown Collection since 2011.

Now Bill wants the world to see these important images. He is raising funds to publish The AIDS Activist Project as a limited edition coffee-table style book. You can read all about the project here

I wish that I could just write a check to fund this whole project, but I can’t. I hope that you will help Bill reach his Kickstarter goal by making a pledge of support today. Bill and his colleagues only have a few days left to reach their goal or they get none of the pledges.

Click here to make a pledge today.

Please watch this video about the project, then pledge your support today.

I love that photograph of Hal. It’s so very sad, and shows such emotion. I can only imagine what he was thinking and feeling in that moment – during those final months of his short life.

I wear that jacket he’s holding in the photo all the time now. When I first put it on a few years after he died, I reached into the pocket and pulled out a roll of ACT UP stickers.

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