Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

History, MA

Committee Chair

K'Meyer, Tracy

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Ehrick, Christine

Committee Member

Ehrick, Christine

Committee Member

Fosl, Catherine

Author's Keywords

queer history; AIDS; activism; Kentucky history; southern studies


This thesis aims to address the role of the queer community in Louisville, Kentucky during the AIDS epidemic. Beginning with the first reported AIDS death in the city in 1983 throughout the 1980s, dialogue focused on those living with AIDS, specifically on education for prevention and aid to those afflicted by the disease. Individuals in the queer community—gay men, lesbians, bisexual men and women, transgender men and women, and others—created resources that were not being provided by the larger city government. Then, in the 1990s, national attention to the AIDS Memorial Quilt encouraged people to participate in rituals of commemoration, loss, and grieving. With the rising incidence rate of the disease in the city, more Louisvillians likewise shifted to memorialization and honoring those who had died. This newfound participation in memorialization, however, was always tied to existing goals of education, awareness, and support that had dominated since the 1980s.