For years, especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s, people who had died from complications related to AIDS dominated the B.A.R. ‘s obituary pages. Tom Burtch, a volunteer at San Francisco’s GLBT Historical Society, has spent about three years scanning the obituaries from the paper’s archives, which are stored at the society’s Mission Street facility. The site will enable users to share memories and could eventually let them upload photos – “sort of like a Facebook page for each person,” said Burtch. Burtch, who’s been a member of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus for 24 years, had originally set out to find obituaries of former chorus members and put them online in time for the chorus’s 30th anniversary last November. But after he started, he said, “I realized that was a little bit selfish of me. I felt that the greater community also needed an opportunity to mourn … an ability to remember people and keep their memories alive.”
By the early 90’s, the B.A.R. was publishing pages of AIDS-related obituaries every week. In 1998, two years after the advent of protease inhibitors, the paper made international news when it published the words “No Obits” on its front page. It was the first time since the epidemic began that the paper had not received notice of an AIDS-related death.