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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 5, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 40
Keynote speech by former Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen at the 2018 Seattle AIDS Walk & Picnic Sept. 29
Section One
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Keynote speech by former Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen at the 2018 Seattle AIDS Walk & Picnic Sept. 29

by Tom Rasmussen - Special to the SGN

For some of us this is an annual event. For over 30 years it's a tradition in September to join the AIDS walk. And this may be the best weather we have ever had!

The first years were horrible. Our community was being decimated.

Every week the pages of the Seattle Gay News were filled with the names and photographs of those who died.

In less that 15 years over 3,000 young gay men died.

We will never forget.

Today, many people, including many young gay men, do not know our history.

This walk was started by compassionate and angry people who marched by the thousands with banners and signs demanding government action for research and help for families and friends with AIDS.

This is not ancient history. This is recent history. This is our history. If we don't tell it, who will? If we don't record the stories, they will be lost.

The Seattle AIDS Memorial Pathway was formed by people who are determined that those early years and the lives of so many people will not be forgotten. We were there then and we are here now!

We believe that we have the duty TO RECORD THE HISTORY AND TO TELL THE STORY. This is a history of profound tragedy and of success and hope.

We will tell the stories of how those marches and that anger was turned into action to create the Northwest AIDS Foundation; Chicken Soup Brigade; People of Color Against AIDS Network (POCAAN) and so many more organizations in the face of hostility and indifference.

The AIDS Memorial Pathway will be a beautiful place of remembrance at the Light Rail Station on Broadway and at Cal Anderson Park.

We will record the stories of people who were there and of the lives lost and of the survivors. You will be able to see them online.

We call ourselves the AIDS Memorial Pathway because this story is not over.

There is no vaccine and still no cure. Today nearly 8,000 people live with HIV or AIDS in King County.

The AIDS Memorial Pathway will be a voice - a call to action to end HIV/AIDS, and to educate and to fight discrimination and stigma.

We have a table over there where you can learn more.

You can help. We need people who will help us record the stories.

I hope you are angry. I am. Angry about discrimination. Angry that people still have to fight for decent healthcare. Angry that a homophobic, sexist, abuser of women is being nominated to the Supreme Court. I hope you take action. One of the enduring lessons of the early days of AIDS is it will only get worse if we don't fight back.

You are heroes, just like those who marched in the first years. You can and are making a difference.

Thank you for being here.

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