#7574 Robert Garcia Papers, 1983-1992

Biographical Note

Robert Garcia was born in 1962 in Whittier, California. His years in New York City were devoted chiefly to political activism, pertaining especially to issues of race and sexuality. In "Speak for Yourself: 7 Activists Talk about ACT-UP," by Jim Hubbard, 1990, Garcia said that being half Navajo, half Mexican, and gay were the three things that identified who he was. He was an important member of ACT UP in New York City, founding and directing committees and caucuses within the organization. A leading role in ACT UP actions and demonstrations led to Garcia's participation in several video projects with the video collective House of Color. His activities extended to Latino and pro-choice activism, and included active participation in the national organization Men Of All Colors Together. He died of complications due to AIDS in New York City in 1993.

Series I. Personal

Robert Garcia's personal papers include resumes, an obituary, birth and baptismal certificates, address books, a passport, a biographical essay by his friend Karen Ramspacher, and other items pertaining to his private life. Garcia's journals date from 1985, 1988, and 1991 and include an undated journal. Garcia wrote in them sporadically, noting items of interest, and kept many loose papers within their pages. In his later journals he speaks of his impending death. Additional topics include ACT UP, his daily plans and activities, employment and finances, as well as clippings detailing Garcia's numerous appearances in the media.

Garcia's 1988 arrest on Wall Street and his subsequent testimony are included, as well as his resignation as Insurance Services Office executive secretary in 1990. Garcia kept many telephone numbers and miscellaneous notes from friends. He also had in his possession photographs of Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, in addition to those of his family and friends. Garcia's papers included the high school diploma and photo album of fellow AIDS activist Rodger Pettyjohn.

Series II. Correspondence

Garcia's incoming correspondence is from friends and family. The familial correspondence spans approximately 1986 to 1991. The correspondence with friends begins in 1983 when Garcia was twenty-one and somewhat involved with Anthony Milanez, a man who that year wrote him numerous passionate letters. Milanez' letters abruptly stopped though Garcia received an occasional card from him from in the years 1986 to 1991. Garcia's correspondence from friends continued until 1991, and included an ex-lover Joseph Lonzi, past and present members of his New York City loft, and many other friends and acquaintances. He received a Christmas card from Phil Zwickler and post cards from Tim Miller, one of the "NEA Four" (National Endowment for the Arts artists whose grants were terminated following political pressure). Many cards and letters lack dates. In addition, a portion of his 1990 correspondence was never opened.

Series III. ACT UP

This series includes minutes, fliers, press releases, and assorted miscellany from committees Garcia was involved with such as Outreach, Majority Action, Latino Caucus, Speakers Bureau, and the Lesbian and Gay Activist History Project, as well as ACT UP publications and clippings concerning ACT UP in the media (New York) and other national and international chapters. It also includes press releases from major ACT UP protests such as the FDA Action (October 1988), Target City Hall (March 28, 1989), Storm the N.I.H. (May 21, 1990), and Stop the Church (December 10, 1989). Notable in the series are several histories of queer activism compiled by the Lesbian and Gay Activist History Project.

Series IV. AIDS

This series includes articles about the AIDS epidemic in the media, as well as such topics as drug treatment, safe sex practices, health insurance, anti-HIV discrimination, nutrition, and housing for HIV+ people. The series includes reports from the Presidential Commission on the HIV Epidemic (1987, 1988), the International Conference on AIDS (1990, 1991, 1992), and a conference regarding minorities and AIDS. The focus of Garcia's AIDS files was a critique of the United States government's handling of the AIDS crisis.

Series V. Topical Files

This series includes files Garcia kept on many other topics of interest to him, including gays and lesbians of color, women and AIDS, AIDS and New York City politics, gay Catholics, reproductive rights, gay and lesbian activism, and gay and lesbian events in the arts. Gay and lesbian activism featured in the media is prominently noted, as well as fliers and publications regarding gay and lesbian events in New York City and those held at the City's Lesbian and Gay Community Center. He kept files on a number of organizations, including his video collective, House of Color. There are files on Queer Nation, the Lesbian and Gay People of Color Steering Committee, Dignity: Gay and Lesbian Catholics, NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association)), COOL (Committee of Outraged Lesbians), WHAM (Women's Health Action and Mobilization), and MACT (Men of All Colors Together). Also included is information regarding Lesbian and Gay Studies programs implemented in colleges and universities in the United states, and conferences and events sponsored by these programs. In addition Garcia kept leaflets from Phil Zwickler and Raymond Navarro's memorial ceremonies. The series includes single issues of periodicals useful to Garcia in his research.

Series VI. Ephemera

Included in this series are gay buttons and stickers, post cards, safe sex packets, political pamphlets, matchbooks, phonodiscs, name tags, and drawings on paper napkins.

Series VII. Graphic Material

Graphic material includes posters, oversized pictorial works, and other items topically consistent with the rest of the Collection.

I Robert Garcia Personal Papers 1, 10
II Correspondence 1-2
III ACT UP 2-4, 10
IV AIDS 4-6, 10
V Topical File/Research File 6-7, 10, 11, 12
VI Ephemera 8
VII Graphic Material 9, Map Case

Box List

finding aid prepared by: Catherine Tingey, Brenda Marston, Phil McCray, Mary Warren, and Maura Jane Flood

2000, Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library