Cal Humanities

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

Honoring World AIDS Day

Since 1988, December 1 has been dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the HIV infection. It is both a day to remember and mourn those whose lives have been claimed, as well as one to inform and educate the public about prevention and treatment now available so that we can lessen the harm caused by this  disease, which still claims over 2 million lives a year around the globe. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the heroism of those who have fought the disease, and those who have stood by to help them, offering love, care and compassion.

California Humanities is proud to have provided support to the following projects which, over the past four decades, have documented the impact of HIV on our communities here in California, promoted empathy and understanding, and inspired people to take positive action in various ways. We invite you to learn more and to experience the work of these grantees yourself.  

Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, the Academy Award-winning documentary film which explores the human side of the epidemic through the individual stories of people whose lives are commemorated through the community-created memorial quilt. Each piece of this giant quilt represents a victim and showcases the enormity of loss because due to AIDS.

The Grove, a film about the creation of the National AIDS Memorial in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. This film is a testament to the lives that were lost in the early years of a disease that stigmatized its victims and forced people to grieve in silence. On November 30, the National AIDS Memorial hosts Light the Grove, an event honoring those whose lives have been lost.

We Were Here: The AIDS Years in San Francisco, documents the arrival of AIDS in San Francisco in the early 1980s. The film illuminates the profound personal and community issues raised by the AIDS epidemic as well as the broad political and social upheavals it unleashed. We Were Here evokes an epic history, through the intimate recollections of five longtime San Franciscans whose lives were transformed by the epidemic.


Watch the trailer here and read a NY Times review of the film that captures the power of the film.

Young City at War: Stories from West Hollywood during the AIDS Epidemic, Launched on World AIDS Awareness Day in 2015, THE LAVENDER EFFECT’S Oral History Project features the dramatic and poignant story of West Hollywood’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in its early days. Through in-depth interviews archived on a website, an important chapter of community history is being preserved and made available  for current residents of the city, LGBTQ youth, and the broader public. California Humanities interviewed Project Director, Andy Sacher in 2016 about his project.

San Francisco ACT UP Oral History Project, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Historical Society (GLBTHS) chronicles and publicizes the history of San Francisco’s AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) through a wide scale oral history project; an exhibit incorporating high-quality radio documentary-style “audio portraits,” photos, and other materials; a multi-media web-based component; and a series of culminating events offering opportunities for dialogue and debate. For information about upcoming activities, contact the GLBTHS. 

Click here to find out more about this global day of awareness.


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