Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman
NYC AIDS Memorial Board Member

Tell us about your earliest memories of AIDS in NYC.

I moved to New York in 1983, in the beginning of the epidemic. I had just graduated from Syracuse and had just come out. At first when I learned about the epidemic, I thought this can’t happen to people like “me”. And then the 80’s marched on; more and more people got sick and no one knew how or why. It was a very scary period; a central part of my history as a gay man and as a New Yorker. I remember that time well.

How did you get involved with the Memorial?

Keith invited Adam (Adam Sheffer, my spouse and a partner at Cheim& Read) and I to his house, and we spoke about how Jenny Holzer was involved in the memorial. Adam is her dealer. I was very impressed with what I learned about the memorial. When we walked home, I said to Adam, “We should support this. If we and people like us don’t support this, who will?” A few days later we made, for us, a large gift. I believed in the memorial and I started talking it up. This encouraged others to make sizable donations as well.

What do you think of the Memorial?

The location and the design are perfect. If I were dreaming this up, I couldn’t do a better job for either. The location is very symbolic.

I lost several close friends to the epidemic – Geoff, Randy and Robert. They are part of my history and my youth. They will forever be in my memory and have a place in my heart and I miss them every day.

It’s important to remember those we lost and this memorial gives us a focal point to do that. It’s also important to remember that the early years of the epidemic brought about a lot of prejudice, confusion and hatred. We need to remember this so we can learn from it. The Memorial’s educational component speaks to this. It’s not the last time a group of people will be discriminated against. Think of all the refugees. This is all tied together, how you treat people. This is so much more than a memorial. It will be a catalyst to help us be better people. A place can do that.

Who will you be remembering at the Memorial?

I’ll remember my friends, the people I wish could be here. It’s like that great scene at the end of Longtime Companion where there is a cure for AIDS and everyone we lost comes back and is healthy. But that’s not going to happen. What we can do is honor their memory here instead.