When I was in Barcelona over the summer, I was doing a month-long residency at MACBA, one of the most prominent art museums in all of Barcelona. Not only do they have a strong collection of queer theory, but they also have reproduced a Keith Haring mural on the outside ground of the museum in a plaza area usually overrun with younger skateboarders and diners enjoying a sunny afternoon tapas lunch. It seems like an odd place to put a Keith Haring mural. Who sees it, you wonder. But then you realize that as an artist, Haring tried to make conversations on HIV/AIDS more democratic without sacrificing the frenzied urgency of his life about to end.
In this sense, I consider Keith Haring a major influence and a key figure in shaping this new project. We must try to work across difference as queer men in our conversations surrounding HIV/AIDS if we can ever hope to make any inroads in new infection rates, better access to treatment, and to the feelings of stigma and fear that perpetuate a lack of dialogue on sex positive practices. While it’s hard to be a Keith Haring, to have that kind of cross-cultural influence, he’s a reminder than we can do better. More importantly, that we have to, in order for any kind of substantial change to happen.