Words & Images © Max Kristula-Green. Team New York No. 1.
I grew up a band geek in Tokyo relatively removed from queerness and AIDS. When I moved to New York City and came out in 2009 I started to look for my community. In 2014 I joined the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps, an LGBTQ symphonic and marching band. The band originated in 1979, right at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. Many of the original founding members of the band died during this time, and in 1983 the band was asked to come to the first ever AIDS Candlelight Vigil in New York City. They went and marched, with black arm bands, carrying a banner that read Where will we be when the music stops? They carried their symphonic instruments, but played only to the sound of the beat of the snare drums, symbolizing the silencing of voices by the disease.
The fight for LGBTQ equality and the AIDS crisis isn’t over. The lengths we have been carried since 1983 were borne on the shoulders of these giants. Many times in epidemics with fatalities people are reduced down to statistics and numbers. I want to honor the members who died to ensure that they are remembered individually. These photographs are portraits of current and past members of the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps. These photographs are proof of life, death, and music living on in the members still alive and playing today.