Eighteen years after his death from AIDS complications, Chicago AIDS activist Danny Sotomayor "came home" as part of an exhibit at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture in Chicago's Humboldt Park.
A gay Puerto Rican/Mexican man, he grew up in Humboldt Park but was not always accepted there. Now, the Institute is fully embracing him with an exhibit of his editorial cartoons, photos of him in ACT UP and other remembrances, including a famous protest sign against Mayor Daley. The exhibit is up through early March at 3015 W. Division, but a special event Feb. 5 marked the 18th anniversary of Sotomayor's death.
Jose Lopez, executive director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, welcomed Sotomayor in strong language condemning homophobia in the Latino communities. Juan Calderon, director of Vida/SIDA, and Marilyn Morales, an Insitute board member, were the force behind the exhibit at the Institute, while Sotomayor friends Lori Cannon and Victor Salvo are the curators of materials commemorating the sharp-witted and talented artist's short life. Cannon told stories of both Sotomayor and his late partner, the writer Scott McPherson ( Marvin's Room ) .
Dr. Gabriel Gomez, a professor of library science at Chicago State University, was the featured speaker. He was a contemporary of Sotomayor's, and shared stories of the challenges Sotomayor faced not just from AIDS, but from homophobia.
After the speeches, the film Short Fuse: Portrait of an AIDS Activist was shown.
Text and Photos by Tracy Baim