The AIDS crisis hit San Francisco like an atom bomb in the early 1980s. In a community that had finally found its voice and strength, people (most of them queer men) died at an alarming rate from a disease no one yet understood and that the president would not even acknowledge existed. Among other things, it gave a sense of urgency to queer journalists and artists, who were inspired to capture the spirit of their times lest it be forgotten. The late Robert Giard was among those people, moved specifically in 1985 by The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer's play about the AIDS crisis. Giard merged his enduring interest in literature, queer issues, and photography and set out to shoot portraits of gay and lesbian writers. His projects lasted two decades, and he shot some 600 individuals. A selection of those shots make up Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Jewish Writers. Some of his subjects considered being Jewish as central to who they were, whereas for others it was only a part. His portraits include well-known figures such as Allen Ginsberg, whose obscenity trial over his poem Howl broke new ground in First Amendment law, as well as more obscure writers such as Stan Leventhal, who was among the people documenting the gay community's response to the AIDS crisis through fiction and essays.
Dec. 26-Feb. 27, 2010