Stitching a Revolution

Stitching a Revolution: The Making of an Activist tells of three decades in the struggle for gay liberation in the United States from the perspective of Cleve Jones, creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Jones tells the story of the Quilt in the context of his own political evolution, his activism for gay rights, the growth of the Quilt, and, later, Jones’s personal struggle with AIDS.

Jones worked at the forefront of the gay rights movement in San Francisco during the 1970’s, becoming involved in politics through gay San Francisco Board supervisor Harvey Milk. After Milk and San Francisco mayor George Moscone were murdered in 1971, Jones organized annual candlelight marches in their memory. One of these events culminated with marchers writing the names of people who had died of AIDS on cardboard placards, and posting them on the wall of San Francisco’s City Hall. The cardboard patchwork inspired Jones with the idea for the AIDS Quilt, made of panels memorializing individuals who had fallen victim to the AIDS epidemic. The Quilt would become a powerful catalyst for communication among families and individuals, both gay and straight, who had been touched by AIDS.

Jones’s account is necessarily driven by the force of his ego, but tempered by his admissions of political failure and his struggle to relinquish personal control of the Quilt project. The book includes a chronology of the Quilt, instructions for creating Quilt panels, and a few statistical facts about the Quilt and its display. This edition of the book unfortunately contains numerous typographical errors.