California: Bay Area Reporter Obituaries Go Online
December 8, 2009
Marking World AIDS Day, thousands of obituaries published since 1980 in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR) were put online for the first time, courtesy of San Francisco's GLBT Historical Society (GHS).
"In those days there were a lot of gay men who came to San Francisco to escape their families of origin, and often the BAR obituary was the only public sign of where they had gone or what had happened to them," said Ralph Buchbalter, who writes about life in the city during the 1980s.
With the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy, the tide appeared to turn, and on its Aug. 13, 1998, edition BAR ran the front-page headline "No Obits." The paper was careful to note that no obituaries had been submitted, not that no one had died.
Tom Burtch, the GHS volunteer who spent about three years scanning the obituaries from BAR's archives, said they give people "an ability to remember people and keep their memories alive." The project is ongoing.
To view the archives, visit www.glbthistory.org/obituaries.
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
11.26.2009; Seth Hemmelgarn