Remembering Duane Kearns Puryear ( Dec. 20, 1964 - Oct. 8, 1991 )

FORGOTTEN HEROES: Remembering Duane Kearns Puryear ( Dec. 20, 1964 – Oct. 8, 1991 )

One of the most powerful and memorable panels on the AIDS Memorial Quilt, made of white cloth with stark black letters belongs to that of Duane Kearns Puryear.

“My name is Duane Kearns Puryear. I was born on December 20, 1964. I was diagnosed with AIDS on September 7, 1987 at 4:45 PM. Sometimes, it makes me very sad. I made this panel myself. If you are reading it, I am dead…”

It has become a symbol of the Quilt’s potential as a tool for advocacy. ” In many ways, Duane Puryear’s story is like so many others represented on the Quilt. He struggled with anti-gay parents and developed his voice as an activist by organizing within the gay community in Dallas and participating in various direct action demonstrations for AIDS awareness and support.

In May 1988, Duane volunteered at the Dallas stop of the first national tour of the AIDS Quilt. Duane’s parents said that Duane wanted to be the first person to make his own panel for the AIDS Quilt.

In a 1989 interview for an educational AIDS film, Duane recounted a horrific story of a staff member at a hospital in Dallas telling him and his mother that she wished that Duane “would hurry up and die” so that she wouldn’t have to clean his room.

His friends and family remember Duane as brilliant, charismatic, gregarious, handsome, dynamic, frank, and unflinching in his commitment to destigmatize HIV/AIDS.  He dedicated his short life to art, education, advocacy, and prevention efforts

Happy Birthday Duane

We remember

You can read more about Duane Kearns Puryear at The Dallas Way

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