AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed at QU during LGBTQ History Month

Carleigh Beck, Contributing writer

Quinnipiac University’s office of Community Engagement displayed AIDS Memorial Quilts in the Arnold Bernhard Library and the Edward and Barbara Netter Library from Oct. 17-21 in recognition of LGBTQ History Month.

The AIDS Memorial Quilts are a way for those who died from HIV to be remembered, with many family and friends contributing to the quilt. Most of the quilts were created in the 1990’s when the virus was at its peak, according to

AIDS Memorial Quilts recognize those that died from the disease, which mainly impacted LGBTQ people. (Photo contributed by Vincent Contrucci)

According to the Centers for Disease Control, AIDS stems from the HIV virus, which attacks the immune system. AIDS is the third and most severe stage of HIV, and most people who have AIDS survive three years with the virus.

The AIDS crisis disproportionately affects the LGBTQ community. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 55% of Americans with HIV are gay and bisexual men, though the group makes up just 2% of the entire U.S. population as of 2017.

Junior health science studies major Emily Bartlett, one of the presidents of Quinnipiac’s Gender Sexuality Alliance club, emphasized the importance of the AIDS Quilt in a statement to the Chronicle.

“It is very nice to see that these individuals’ stories won’t be forgotten and are able to be shared with many different communities, including our own here at Quinnipiac,” Bartlett wrote. “It warms my heart that so much time and dedication has been put into a great cause for those individuals and their loved ones, and also that Quinnipiac got the chance to showcase a part of our community.”

Robert Young, a public service librarian at Arnold Bernhard Library, helped bring the memorial quilts to Quinnipiac.

Young said he came out as gay in the 1980s, around the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Through his membership of an inclusive church in New Haven, Young said he has known more than a dozen men who have battled AIDS, many of whom died from the virus over the years. He said this was one of the factors that inspired him to bring the quilts to Quinnipiac.

“College students today aren’t aware of the Memorial Quilts. They just don’t know about it,” Young said. “I thought it was important history to remember.”

In addition, Young pointed out the many correlations between AIDS and the COVID pandemic. Young said both crises have brought people together.

“I think it’s important to just remember how this pandemic was responded to and how people came together as a community. It could be a model today when we’re dealing with similar types of situations,”

Young said.

Vincent Contrucci, director of community engagement, also helped bring the AIDS Memorial Quilts to campus. Contrucci is the faculty advisor for the Chronicle. He also pointed out more similarities between the AIDS epidemic and COVID, saying that the government’s inactions caused the death of thousands.

“It (the Memorial Quilts) presence requires us to understand its history, to reflect ton the systems and cultural biases, biases that allowed the pandemic to reach such proportions in the US and abroad,” Contrucci said. “It also challenges us to recognize and reflect on the slow response to this most recent pandemic. . . the similarities that exist between the two pandemics separated by nearly 40 years are eerily similar. Fear, disinformation, bias and hatred.”

Contrucci, who requested the quilts to be sent to Quinnipiac through the National AIDS Memorial, notes that the AIDS epidemic is not over yet.

“(People) think that (AIDS) is a thing of the past, when the AIDS epidemic continues to this day,” Contrucci said. “There were over 30,000 HIV diagnoses last year, and that’s only those who got tested, who knows how many more.”

For more information on the AIDS Memorial Quilts and the HIV/AIDS Crisis, visit the National AIDS Memorial website at