It all started with The Quilt. In the Fall of 2011 our family put the final touches on an “AIDS quilt” for David to be joined to other quilts as part of the Names Project. David died in November 1992, so the quilt project had been almost 20 years in the making. Spearheaded by my wife Sue and her sister Lucinda Keers the quilt was finally assembled after several long days of stitching. It was an emotional experience for us all.
I have to admit little enthusiasm for the quilt project all those years because in my mind it hardly seemed enough, how could 4 x 6 piece of cloth possibly capture who my brother was or what he meant to all of us? Fortunately through the perseverance of these two women the project was completed in spite of me dragging my feet. It gave us great joy to present it to my parents.
The David Serko Project
Inspired by the completion of the quilt, in February 2012 I started the The David Serko Project. My goal: find people who knew David. We had spent much of our lives living far apart. Me on the west coast, him in New York City. He toured the world in “A Chorus Line” and “Dirty Dancing”. I was a stay at home dad with three kids, up to my elbows in diapers. I wanted to know more about his life. I wanted to gather stories from the people who knew him. We would create in effect an “aural quilt” of his life.
It started with a website at davidserko.com then more or less as an afterthought I created The David Serko Project Facebook page. To my surprise rather quickly I began to locate people who knew David. As I began to find people I also gathered tidbits of information about him. Sometimes it might be a comment about a photo I posted like the one on the right. Other times someone new might comment and suddenly I would have a new contact, another friend of his to add to the our growing list. Over time I amassed photos, video on old VHS tapes, audio recordings, and some of his personal belongings, most I had never seen or heard before. It was a fascinating and wonderful process of discovery.
However, one of the most important discoveries of the Project didn’t occur through Facebook. Early in the Project I was looking for information about ACT UP, the AIDS activist group. David had been a member of ACT UP and had participated in a number of ACT UP protests. I wanted to get a better understanding of the history of ACT UP . As I was reading a Wikipedia article on ACT UP I noticed a footnote link (since removed) to photos of an ACT UP protest known as Wall Street II, March 24, 1988. I had seen a photo of David at this protest elsewhere so I clicked on the link. The link opened a gallery of B&W photos from the protest. As I browsed through the gallery I found this photo (left) of David being hauled off by the NYC Police. It was a startling discovery. Finding this photo created a ripple effect in the life of the Project opening many doors. Clay Walker, the man who took the photo, and I are now friends. Clay came to a performance of the play in Endicott, NY in July 2014 and stayed at my parents’ house with us. Clay took photographs of me during the performance... talk about things coming full circle!
Of course, the Project laid the groundwork for the play My Brother Kissed Mark Zuckerberg. Read more about that here.
Interested in knowing more about the life of the Project?
See The David Serko Project Timeline, it has links to videos and other materials from the Project.