In 1983 I attended the second national GRID or Gay Related Immune Disease meeting sponsored by the Center for Disease Control in Denver. It would be another year before the term AIDS was used. We learned that there were nearly 800 recorded cases across the US and one of them was one of my clients in Santa Cruz. I knew things were likely to get worse within the gay community in Santa Cruz. I dedicated myself to working with others to meet the developing need. We formed the Santa Cruz AIDS Project or SCAP in 1985. I continued the work, providing training to hospitals and health professionals and law enforcement and funeral parlors. My patients were dying and my friends were dying. I attended at least one funeral a month from 1985 to 1997.
Jerry Solomon, Co-Founder Santa Cruz AIDS Project and Psychologist, Santa Cruz
Lesbians were rolling up their sleeves and putting on the bandage … and doing this enormous support work to the gay men who were doing the very important work of saying 'Hey, government, Let’s get some health services here, let’s start treating us as we deserve to be treated.' It was an extraordinary contribution to the AIDS movement that was often overlooked.
The AIDS quilt developed in San Francisco in 1985. A small group in Santa Cruz created AIDS quilts in memory of their loved ones. Santa Cruz residents created these quilt panels to honor local people who died of AIDS. The NAMES project, known now as the AIDS quilt, traveled to Santa Cruz in March 1989.
Seeing the huge AIDS Memorial Quilt all spread out in front of me was an unforgettable experience. It put a human face on the epidemic, and showed the enormity of the impact of the epidemic. It brought me to tears. Ultimately it spurred me on to make a commitment to continued public action.