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Steven Reigns in conversation with Jonny McGovern
November 11, 2021 @ 6:00 pmFree
A Quilt For David
Published by City Lights Books
The hidden history of a vulnerable gay man whose life and death were turned into tabloid fodder.
In the early 1990s, eight people living in a small conservative Florida town alleged that Dr. David Acer, their dentist, infected them with HIV. David’s gayness, along with his sickly appearance from his own AIDS-related illness, made him the perfect scapegoat and victim of mob mentality. In these early years of the AIDS epidemic, when transmission was little understood, and homophobia rampant, people like David were villainized. Accuser Kimberly Bergalis landed a People magazine cover story, while others went on talk shows and made front page news.
With a poet’s eulogistic and psychological intensity, Steven Reigns recovers the life and death of this man who also stands in for so many lives destroyed not only by HIV, but a diseased society that used stigma against the most vulnerable. It’s impossible not to make connections between this story and how the twenty-first century pandemic has also been defined by medical misinformation and cultural bias.
Inspired by years of investigative research into the lives of David and those who denounced him, Reigns has stitched together a hauntingly poetic narrative that retraces an American history, questioning the fervor of his accusers, and recuperating a gay life previously shrouded in secrecy and shame.
Steven Reigns, Los Angeles poet and educator, was appointed the first Poet Laureate of West Hollywood. He has two previous collections, Inheritance and Your Dead Body is My Welcome Mat, and over a dozen chapbooks. Reigns edited My Life is Poetry, showcasing his students’ work from the first-ever autobiographical poetry workshop for LGBTQ seniors. Reigns has lectured and taught writing workshops around the country to LGBTQ youth and people living with HIV. He worked for a decade as an HIV test counselor in Florida and Los Angeles. Currently he is touring The Gay Rub, an exhibition of rubbings from LGBTQ landmarks around the world, and has a private practice as a psychotherapist. He lives in West Hollywood, CA.
Jonny McGovern is a comedian, podcaster and the host/ executive producer of the long-running hit TV series “Hey Qween,” which showcases queer stories and performers.