Glide Pride: HIV/AIDS Activism

Glide Memorial Church took an early role in spiritual and health care related to HIV/AIDS.  Following health care best practices, rather than fear and prejudice about the disease, Glide’s outreach and advocacy supported all individuals who were affected by HIV/AIDS.  Information beyond just Glide’s support to the LGBTQ community is included in this section, because other faith leaders, politicians and organizations during this time were ignoring the crisis and blaming gay individuals for the epidemic.  Glide’s commitment to science and storytelling, helped create a supportive space for all who were living with HIV.

The videos, articles and information below highlight some of the ways Glide advocated for individuals and communities.  This included visiting individuals in the hospital, opening a health clinic, providing harm reduction care, hosting funerals (at a time when there was only one funeral home in San Francisco that would care for the bodies of individuals who died from AIDS) and celebrating the life and legacy of those who died.  Glide continues harm reduction and health care efforts, listening to and sharing the stories of those living with HIV, and memorializing those who have died of AIDS.

1986 Condom Distribution

Bay Area Reporter, Volume 16, Number 26, 26 June 1986. Courtesy of the Internet Archive

1987  – Caring for those living with HIV/AIDS

A video of a congregant talking about Cecil Williams visiting individuals with HIV/AIDS in the hospital, during a time when people where afraid and often unwilling to provide care.  This video, from the Glide Archive, is an excerpt from footage for Heroes in America.  You can watch the full video here.

Glide also participated in fundraising for the AIDS Foundation, called the “Gospel Musical,” and included teenagers in a rap competition.

Bay Area Reporter, Volume 17, Number 40, 1 October 1987. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.

1989 – Glide Goodlett Clinic Opened to Provide Testing, Care and Outreach

A video from the Glide Archive, featuring Janice Mirikitani that shares the history of the Glide Goodlett Clinic.  

Also in 1989, the Rev. Cecil continued to work to create intersectional support for HIV/AIDS issues.  This included encouraging black churches to help get scientific and health information about HIV/AIDS out to the black community.

Bay Area Reporter, Volume 19, Number 14, 6 April 1989. Courtesy of the Internet Archive

Bay Area Reporter, Volume 19, Number 14, 6 April 1989. Courtesy of the Internet Archive


1990 – HIV/AIDS Dance Group Performance

Glide used art to help individuals cope with the grief and trauma caused by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  This video, from the Glide Archive, is a performance by the Glide Dance Group that helped to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS issues.

1991 – Glide Becomes the First Church To Offer Free Condoms and HIV Testing

Courtesy of the Glide Archive

The Rev. Cecil Williams spoke at events around the country to bring attention to HIV/AIDS issues.  The document above is the introduction used to introduce Rev. Cecil at the June 18, 1995 Queerlapalooza.

1991 Obituary of the Rev. Louis David Ashley Jr.

The Rev. Louis David Ashley, Jr was a gospel singer, ordained minister and the founding director of the Glide Goodlett HIV/AIDS Project of Glide Church.  His obituary in the Bay Area Reporter noted that he “was the first staff person for what has become one of the nation’s most innovative centers committed to confronting the AIDS crisis in the poor, homeless and underserved minority communities.”

The article, included below, continues: ‘Louis Ashley was a pioneer in bringing people of all races and sexual orientations together in the fight against AIDS,” said Rev. Cecil Williams, pastor of Glide Church.  ‘His sensitive and compassionate outreach work in the city parks was a significant and one of many important contributions for which he and his friends could be very proud.'”

Bay Area Reporter, Volume 21, Number 50, 12 December 1991. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.


1992 AIDS Benefit Concert

Bay Area Reporter, Volume 22, Number 4, 23 January 1992. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.

1993 – AIDS Stamp Celebration

USPS AIDS Stamp.  Courtesy of Megan Rohrer

In 1993, Glide hosted the dedication ceremony for an AIDS Stamp for the United States Postal Service (USPS).  The video below is an excerpt from the dedication service and includes speeches by Nancy Pelosi and Janice Mirikitani.

This video is an excerpt from the Glide Archive and can be viewed in full here.

1995 – AIDS Quilt Panel

Glide created two AIDS panels celebrating its members and community members.  The first, a partial panel, was created in 1995.  A second, full panel was created the following year.

AIDS Quilt Panel 4196

1996 – World AIDS Day

Glide regularly celebrates World AIDS day during its Sunday Celebration Services.  Videos below, from the Glide Archive, share some of the events over the years.

AIDS Quilt Panel 4500


2001 – World AIDS Day Celebration

This video excerpt from the Glide Archive was filmed at the 2001 World AIDS Day Celebration at Glide Memorial Church and features a speech by Marcel Miranda about the Glide Goodlett Clinic.

2016 – The Medea Project: Theatre for Incarcerated Women/HIV Circle

In 2008, The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women joined forces with UCSF’s Women’s HIV Clinic to create theater that explores what it means to be living with the virus in the twenty-first century. For the past four years, The Medea Project: HIV Circle has performed shows all around the United States, sharing the Truth and the stories of what it means to be female and infected or affected. In 2015, the Medea Project reached out virtually to women all around the world to continue to break the silence and the stigmas around HIV as they built a large scale production with Planned Parenthood, which premiered at Brava Theater in San Francisco on April 9, 2015.

GLIDE proudly continued its thought leadership series in partnership with the members of the Society for Classical Studies with acclaimed storyteller, interdisclipinary artist and social justice activist Rhodessa Jones who joined champion of criminal justice reform and social change visionary Lateefah Simon in conversation at GLIDE’s Sanctuary on Friday, January 8, 2016. This discussion between two respected thinkers touched on topics such as women, incarceration, stigma of HIV/AIDS, expressive arts, violence, healing and recovery, mythology and social justice following a special performance from The Medea Project: Theatre for Incarcerated Women/HIV Circle. This performance represented a unique opportunity to gather different approaches to myth. We hope that exciting new perspectives on the contemporary power of myth are generated by bringing classicists, performers and social activists together.

2020 – World AIDS Day Sermon

2021 – AIDS Memorial 40th Anniversary

Minister of Celebration, Marvin K. White speaks at the National AIDS Memorial Ceremony about the importance of the 40th Anniversary event in Golden Gate Park.

2023 – AIDS Walk


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