Silence = Death T Shirt

Grade Range: 8-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Sources
Date Posted: 9/2/2020

"This black t-shirt, which says “Silence = Death” with a pink triangle, symbolizes the struggle against AIDS. Six activists – Avram Finklestein, Brian Howard, Oliver Johnston, Charles Kreloff, Chris Lione, and Jorge Soccaras – founded the “Silence = Death” project in New York City in 1987. These men took action because they feared for their lives in the face of the mounting AIDS crisis and felt that those in authority were doing very little to help. They later joined the activist group ACT UP. According to the ACT UP website in October 2016, they decided on “Silence = Death” as their slogan and began to post signs around the city in order to protest “taboos around discussion of safer sex and the unwillingness of some to resist societal injustice and governmental indifference.” The pink triangle was a symbol for the gay rights movement starting in the 1970s. During World War II, LGBTQ people were forced to wear an inverted pink triangle in Nazi concentration camps. The gay rights movement appropriated the use of the symbol by turning it upright to convey resistance and unity."

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