Seattle's Asian‑American and Pacific‑Islander communities fighting homophobia in 1994

AMP Stories

An AMP Interview Stories, Historic, AIDS Organization / Leader, LGBTQ Communities, Men, Asian / Asian American
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Bob Shimabukuro

AIDS activist, journalist, and community organizer Bob Shimabukuro remembers how a single poster changed the face of the AIDS crisis in Seattle’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community. In the early 1990s, as the AIDS epidemic was at its height, Bob helped gather a diverse group of individuals from across the AAPI community to create a poster with the unifying message to “Unite Against Homophobia.” The historic group photograph, whose subjects ranged from young children to legendary leaders, featured the simple statement of unity, surrounded by a border of the phrase translated in different languages to express the same sentiment. Bob, who was a founder of the Asian Pacific AIDS Council, recalls how the photoshoot came together and how the powerful message was developed. Eventually, the poster became a familiar sight in the International District and throughout downtown Seattle. This one campaign had a profound impact in building awareness and, as Bob recounts, “changed community attitudes.”

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