Memory & Memorial, Real & Imagined

The 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne began this weekend under a cloud of sadness, but with renewed determination to carry on the work so important to those who recently lost their lives. Twenty years ago this month, Dutch photographer and friend Frits de Ridder held his last exhibition of work – his very personal contribution to a battle against the disease that would take his life a month later. Last year I posted this piece and it seems a fitting time to revisit it.

David Swatling

A Quiet End Photo: Frits de Ridder, 1986

In September 1986 I died of AIDS. That’s me – center in the photo – playing one last game of Scrabble. An hour later, handsome Tony in the white shirt died in the arms of Steve, who left the hospice soon after to spend his final days with his family. I passed quietly, offstage. Five nights a week, above a gay bar in Amsterdam.

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