MINERAL POINT, Wis. — The third annual Mineral Point Pride celebration will feature a memorial to recognize a somber chapter in LGBT history.
During the court of the event, to occur Aug. 9 and 10, panels from the internationally acclaimed AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed.
“I wanted to make (Pride) more than just a party with drinking and drag queens,” said Richard Baumeister, who assisted with planning. “I wanted it to mean something.”
Created in 1987, the quilt consists of more than 49,000 3-foot-by-6-foot panels that memorialize those lost in the AIDS epidemic and educate the public about the disease’s toll.
The quilt, considered the largest community art project in the world, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and is the subject of the Academy-Award-winning documentary “Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.”
It will be showcased at the Mineral Point art gallery, boyoyoboy! contemporary, 22 High St. A reception will be held there from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9.
Baumeister, 57, recalls living through the AIDS epidemic in the mid-1980s with the acute sensation that contracting the disease — for which the cause was then unknown — was inevitable.
“Then you watch your friends die,” he said.
He hopes to increase awareness of HIV’s impact, especially among younger people who did not live through the era.
Michel Platt, co-owner of boyoyoboy! contemporary, said he is honored to display six panels of the quilt.
Although for some, HIV has become a manageable, chronic condition, many people lack access to affordable health care, he said.
“I know some people that have been HIV-positive since the first years and they are still alive and they’re dealing with health issues that in most Western countries would be taken care of by the government,” Platt said. “But they have to find their own drugs to stay alive.”
Pride organizers intend to have a new panel sewn during the celebration, which will be contributed to The Names Project, the custodian of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
This year’s Pride also will feature events at Tequila Point and L&L Public House, including live music, games and two drag show performances.
A schedule is being finalized and will be accessible at www.bit.ly/2LlnSOz.
Molly Huie, another event organizer, said Pride honors the city’s thriving LGBT community.
The celebration “is a community effort,” she said.
Several entities, including the Mineral Point Opera House and Chamber of Commerce, also are participating.
Baumeister recalled the positive response he received during the city’s first Pride celebration in 2017 when he distributed 75 rainbow flags for display on the buildings along the city’s main thoroughfare — High Street.
Most people flew them.
“It was a very beautiful experience,” he said.