AIDS Diagnosis and Activism

Is this the speech you wanna hear?

Matias performing Novaniño

What does an AIDS Diagnosis mean? This is a complicated question—AIDS meant different things to different cultures, it meant different things in different places, and it meant something different to each person who lived through the crisis, whether or not they were a part of the LGBT community. For those who lived with the disease, however, AIDS posed a single, unavoidable question: what will you do with the rest of your life? This part of the exhibit explores the complexities of AIDS through David Matias’s life and works.

“‘The Night With No Dawn’: The Emotions of Diagnosis" delves deeper into the sentiments surrounding an AIDS diagnosis and, exploring five particular David Matias poems, acknowledges the complex emotional turmoil faced by each individual AIDS patient.

“Sin, Death, and Disease: The Cultural Meaning of AIDS” explores the connotations of AIDS in American culture, primarily as a punishment for sexual immorality and as an incurable death sentence, and compares these cultural meanings to those of earlier diseases.

The “AIDS Activism” section explores the role that activism played in David Matias’s works as well as the ways in which activists used art, literature, and symbolism to spread awareness about the AIDS crisis in America.

“Locations and Implications” identifies David Matias’s geographical location through incidental notes from his artifacts. Broken into three main residences—San Antonio, New York, and Provincetown—each artifact features a poem reflecting his sentiments towards his AIDS diagnosis while situating him into a moment in time and place.