Threads of Remembrance : Funding in Dallas

Ignorance and fear of AIDS caused discrimination against those with the disease. Many with the disease were shunned from their community groups and families, evicted from housing, and completely isolated while in hospitals for treatment. Many in the Reagan administration refused to acknowledge the disease until 1985, when the crisis was too big to ignore. The Reagan administration, and Nancy Reagan in particular, were adamant about fighting the drug problem in the U.S., which made it impossible to gain funding or research for needle exchange programs, to help curb the spread of AIDS through sharing of needles for intravenous drug use.

With a lack of federal involvement with the epidemic, state and city governments were slow to provide funding for AIDS resources. The state of Texas was among the worst offenders, and Dallas continually refused funding for local service providers. Because of this, the Gay Urban Truth Squad (GUTS) was formed by members of the Dallas Gay Alliance, and held demonstrations and site installations to bring attention to the number of people who were dying of AIDS. One of their simplest and most effective installations was created in 1988. They utilized an empty lot, which was a giant hole before the City of Dallas spent $500,000 to have it filled in. Members of GUTS hammered in hundreds of white crosses, bearing the names of those who died of AIDS or AIDS related illness, and erected a sign that read, “The City of Dallas spent $500,000 filling this hole. The City of Dallas Spent $55,000 on AIDS. Dallas County AIDS deaths equals 793.” Dallas approved increased AIDS funding to $552,000 the following year.