HanseGAY German AIDS Outreach Poster


This poster was created in 1995 by HanseGAY (a North German cultural organization for gays and lesbians) in response to the AIDS crisis that plagued Queer communities during the 1980s and 1990s. The poster consists of German text in the background with bold, blue, thick-stroke typography taking over the page. 

The print features subtle iconographic references to homosexuality and the AIDS/HIV crisis through the bold blue strokes we see across the page –– two plus signs (for HIV positive) separated by a line with two arrows pointing to the right (the artist's creative way of depicting two male symbols). 

Additionally, this poster reflects a colloquial association with the plus-sign (+) unique to the LGBTQ+ community during the late 20th century. Ever since the plus-sign originated in the Middle Ages (c. 13th-15th century), it has been associated with addition and arithmetic equations. In the late 20th century, however, the plus-sign gathered a unique, more harrowing connotation amongst the gay community. The AIDS crisis rampantly spread throughout the LGBTQ+ community, and those who were given a positive diagnosis were treated as if they had received a death sentence. This poster represents a pivotal moment in Queer history; where AIDS mortality rates were at its peak, but new treatments were starting to become available, and the disease was slowly becoming less-stigmatized. This typographic design invites us to reflect on a pivotal moment in both the history of writing systems and the Queer identity. 

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Source: www.jstor.org