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About Cleve

Cleve Jones is an American human rights activist, author and lecturer. Jones joined the gay liberation movement in the early 1970s. He was mentored by pioneer LGBT activist Harvey Milk and worked in Milk’s City Hall office as a student intern until Milk’s assassination in 1978. Jones co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 1983 and founded The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, one of the world’s largest community arts projects, in 1987.

When We Rise

By turns tender and uproarious—and written entirely in his own words—When We Rise is Jones’ account of his remarkable life. He chronicles the heartbreak of losing countless friends to AIDS, which very nearly killed him, too; his co-founding of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation during the terrifying early years of the epidemic; his conception of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the largest community art project in history; the bewitching story of 1970s San Francisco and the magnetic spell it cast for thousands of young gay people and other misfits; and the harrowing, sexy, and sometimes hilarious stories of Cleve’s passionate relationships with friends and lovers during an era defined by both unprecedented freedom and possibility, and prejudice and violence alike.


Cleve Jones is a long-time labor and LGBTQ activist. He is the co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS coalition and the founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Since 2005, Cleve has been a Community and Political Coordinator with UNITE HERE, the North American hospitality workers’ union. Through his partnership with UNITE HERE, Cleve has led LGBTQ and labor coalitions in taking on some of the toughest corporations in the hospitality industry. Cleve has also worked to make the labor movement more inclusive of LGBTQ workers via the insertion of LGBTQ safeguards in union contracts to protect workers from workplace discrimination. These protections can be enforced even in locales where no such protections exist in the law.

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