Primary Source Description

Peaking out as just a sliver from all four corners of the panel is a black fabric background. There is a rather large fluffy looking light pink thought cloud that takes up the majority of the space provided on the panel. The name “Andy Lippincott” appears in the center of the thought cloud in capitalized black block letters. Above the name in an italicized smaller black font is “in loving memory…” and below the name, the same font reads “community leader, conservationist, author, Olympic medalist, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize!” To the farthest right side of the thought cloud is an image of a cartoon man from above the knee up. He has black hair and a white complexion. He is wearing a white button up shirt with a tan colored cardigan over it and has black slacks on as well. His nose is a very prominent feature and he has both hands tucked away in his pockets. He seems to be a bit slouched over but maintains a small yet friendly grin. He is Andy Lippincott.

Right below Lippincott are the dates of his life, 1945-1990, in the same bold black font as his name. The thought cloud, the lettering, and the image of Lippincott are all made out of a soft cloth-like fabric and have been sewn on to the panel to hold it in place.

A second panel is found right below this one which contributes more information about Andy Lippincott. The panel has a sky blue background and a series of comic strips presented as four strips on a vertical 8.5 inch by 11 inch white fabric. There are 20 of these white fabrics that border around a black rectangular center that restates “Andy Lippincott” with white lettering. His birth year and death year are centered underneath his name along with “In loving memory of Andy Lippincott, community leader, conservationist, author, Olympic medalist, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize” placed under the years. All of the lettering and numbering is in a small white font.

These two different panels are sewn on to a lavender cloth rectangular block. This block differs from other blocks that make up the AIDS Memorial Quilt because other blocks contain eight panels yet this one only contains two horizontal panels which are spread out on a vertical block. Both these panels were created by G. Scott Austen, Marceo Miranda and Juan-Carlos Castano. These panels were given to the Names Foundation but was told to remain separate from the AIDS quilt since Andy was a fictional character that symbolized a life infected with AIDS in gay community.

Andy Lippincott is one of the only fictional characters feature on an AIDS Memorial Quilt. He made is first appearance January 1976 in the Doonesbury comic strip and came out as a gay character. He then reappeared in 1982 and in 1989 he was diagnosed with AIDS. Throughout the years he struggled with the disease and eventually died from the it. Garry Trudeau is an american cartoonist and the creator of the Doonesbury comic strips. Trudeau became the first comic strip artist ever to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1975.

Gary Trudeau:

Gary Trudeau Reflects on 40 Years of Drawing Doonesbury:

Comic strips from Doonesbury: Andy Lippincott comes out as gay

Andy Lippincott battling AIDS

Trudeau sheds light on taboo subjects by utilizing his humor, artistic abilities, and his voice as a person growing up in his generation. The significance of including Andy’s character in this comic strip was to help bring the AIDS/HIV crisis into popular culture. Several of the 900 newspapers that contained the comic strip refused to publish the strips regarding Andy’s character due to controversy surrounding AIDS/HIV and after the death of Andy, many members of the gay community were outraged by the insensitivity of the strip yet anti-AIDS organizations praised its social awareness. The San Francisco Chronicle even ran the news of Lippincott’s death on its obituary page.

The creators of Andy Lippincott’s AIDS quilt panel used the comics that are bordering the black rectangle as timeline for the progression of Andy’s disease and in many ways it represents the progression of AIDS affecting a community.

Article: AIDS in the ’80s: The rise of a new civil rights movement

“As the epidemic unfolded, it began to bring people together.” -Dr. Jesse Peel on AIDS in the ’80s

On May 24 1990, the very last comic with Andy includes his death “quietly in his bed, the window open to a sunny day and a coveted C.D. of the Beach Boy’s ‘Wouldn’t It be Nice’ playing”.

Andy Lippincott’s Death

The Beach Boys – Wouldn’t It Be Nice


Primary Source Description

Centered across the top of the horizontal grey felt block are capitalized black bold letters that spell out “DONALD J. PLETZKE”. At first glance, the audience can easily observe the symmetry of the panel and the variety of different clothing items that have been carefully folded, cut, and sewn on to the quilt to display their messages. Pictures and tokens of Pletzke’s life are carefully attached to the panel. Each of these items had a significance to Donald J. Pletzke.

AIDS Quilt made for Donald J. Pletzke

Five items of clothing are displayed on to the felt quilt in an aesthetically pleasing order. From left to right the color pattern is as follows: white, blue, black, blue, white. The colors utilized match the same colors that are found on the small flag in the bottom left corner. The lettering on the first white cotton shirt states “Mohawk Leather Atlanta” and includes a black and white sketch of man with a Mohawk hairstyle underneath. Next in line is the light blue shirt with small, white font stating, “I’m the Daddy, that’s why” that stretches about 10 inches horizontally across the shirt. In the center of the entire block is a black leather vest, kept unfolded and uncut, with a small red ribbon pinned on the left side panel where one’s heart would be which symbolizes solidarity of people living with AIDS and HIV.

AIDS/HIV Ribbon:

Stop AIDS sign.

This ribbon contains a small golden angel placed directly in the center. A gold-plated medal pin, rectangular in shape, is placed right above the ribbon and reads “BULLETWOMAN”. Proceeding the vest is a blue jersey like shirt that is folded in a way that only the back is visible. It contains a large number seven in black centered on the back of the shirt. Last in the row is another white cotton t-shirt with an abstract design on the front. It includes eyes and a mouth, along with stating “HOLLYWOOD hits ‘89”. These shirts are presented in a timeline fashion progressing from one side to the other with the peak being the middle black leather vest. The quilt has a mournful effect on the audience due to the neutral color scheme layout which incorporates the blues, whites, and blacks on a gray backdrop.

Under the row of shirts centered in the very bottom are the dates of Donald J Pletzke’s life. The date of his birth comes first (2-20-47) and then the date of his death is underneath it (4-25-93) making him 46 years old at his time of death. Both dates are in the same black bold font as his name at the top. The numbers were created from black fabric cut-outs. Similar to a tombstone, the dates are appeal to the viewers in a way that commemorates the life of Pletzke.

On the bottom left hand side of the quilt, adjacent to the dates, there is a picture of a leather pride flag. It contains nine horizontal stripes altering from royal blue and black and has one white strip in the middle. In the upper left corner is a red heart. This flag is about 6 inches wide and 9 inches long and it printed on the fabric. First created by Tony Deblase, this gay pride symbol was used in 1986 for an International Mr. Leather Competition (IML). International Mr. Leather is a contest/conference of Leathermen held In Chicago, Illinois every May since 1979. The leather subculture is the practice of sexual activities involving leather garments such as belts, pants, jackets, etc. and is mostly centered around gay communities, more specifically gay men. Leathermen strongly associate with the BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism, Masochism) sexual fetish and other kinks.

Image of the Leather Pride Flag

Leather Flag at a Gay Pride Parade 

For more information on the Leather Pride Flag and Gay Pride Flags:

Image of International Mr. Leather logo

International Mr. Leather Official Website:

On the bottom half between the flag and the dates of Pletzke’s life is a faded portrait style picture printed on fabric of Pletzke. It is about one and a half feet by one foot with a one-inch black border around it. In this picture Pletzke is wearing a light blue button up shirt. On the other side of the dates the is second faded picture, but this one captures a group of twenty men in dressed in white uniform with the title “Bulldog’s” printed on it. These men seem to be part of a softball/baseball team. This picture has the same one-inch black border as the first picture.

Finally, in the bottom right hand corner there is a typed letter printed on to white fabric and attached to a vibrant pink fabric, giving the letter a small border. It is titled “The True Saga of Bulletwoman”.

The True Saga of Bulletwoman

This passage not only characterizes Donald J. Pletzke and explains the “bulletwoman” persona, but also ties in all other aspects of the quilt.  This passage explains the types of communities that Pletzke was a part of; the leathermen community which was presented expressed through the first white shirt and the black vest, the softball team community that was conveyed by the blue jersey and the faded team picture, and the homosexual community in Atlanta, which was presented by the image of the flag and the bulletwoman pin. The passage is broken up into five different sections. The first gives background on Pletzke and how he made it onto the Armory Bullets softball team. It also explains how he got his first nickname as Nurse Bullet. The next section reveals that after being late to one bowling match with his team, Pletzke nickname was then demoted to Bulletwoman. The following two paragraphs recount Bulletwoman’s first gay parade. By stating “Hail, Bulletwoman, king and queen of Atlanta” as the final sentence, the author of the passage preaches Donald J. Pletzke’s story in honorable acclaim. While there are some grammatical errors in the passage, it flows perfectly with all other facets on the AIDS quilt tying it together as a coherent memorializing piece.