History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - People - Bios

Christopher Fons


February 21, 1995
Primary Involvements:

HIV and AIDS activist




  (summarized from Wisconsin Light, volume 8 issue 5, March 2-15, 1995; written by Terry Boughner)

Christopher Fons was co-founder of the Milwaukee chapter of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP).

"I think Christopher was the conscience of the AIDS community", said Doug Nelson, Executive Director of the Milwaukee AIDS Project (MAP). "Christopher created and defined AIDS activism in Milwaukee and made it work. He inspired hundreds of people to join the ranks of AIDS activism and his leadership made a real difference."

In addition to his work with ACT UP, Fons had also actively advocated for equal rights for gays and lesbians, as well as the right of women to obtain abortion on demand. He served on a number of coalitions aimed at building stronger grassroots activism in Milwaukee, and in September of 1994, he received the Community Activist Award from Progressive Milwaukee.

Fons' brother, Dan Fons, who worked alongside Christopher in his fights against AIDS, describes his younger brother as a great inspiration. "When Christopher was in the room, I felt ten times stronger", said Dan Fons, "stronger in my ability and in my determination to fight injustice. Christopher was not a part-time activist. He lived true to his convictions every minute of every day, whether that meant passing out condoms to high school students in front of irate parents or the simple and profound act of holding hands with his boyfriend at a bus stop".

On Tuesday, February 21, 1995, Christopher died after a long and spirited battle with AIDS. He died peacefully at home with his partner, Yuri Keegstra, and long-time friend, Eric Berna, at his side. He was 27. (In an eerie coincidence, his friend Arnie Malmon, another very active AIDS victim who worked with Chris in the local ACT UP chapter, passed away just one day after Chris.)

A visitation and memorial service were held for Christopher at the Pabst Theatre on Sunday February 26th with nearly 600 people in attendance. Fons had worked as an usher at the theatre for many years and had requested that his memorial service be held there.

(Read the full text of Wisconsin Light's tribute to Christopher Fons and Arnie Malmon in the Vol. 8 No. 5 Issue of Wisconsin Light.

Recollections: The following are recollections of others who have been kind enough to submit their personal memories to the webmaster. You are welcome to do the same!

      I knew Chris personally (and his brother Dan, and his boyfriend Yuri). I was involved in ACT UP Milwaukee in 1992-1994 and Chris was an inspiration. He was fearless. I remember picking him up at the police station at midnight because he'd been arrested for pasting flyers on bus shelters. I was a teenage baby queer at that point and he and others taught me to be unashamed.
                                      -- Kevin Isaacson


Fons (left) with boyfriend

Fons at 1989 fundraiser for ACT UP

Fons (center) in Parade with ACT UP

Fons leafleting

Fons with award

Photo, 1991 with brother Dan Fons on right
(courtesy Dan Fons)

Photo, 1994 with brother Dan Fons on right
(courtesy Dan Fons)

Fons obituary in Milw. Sentinel
Feb. 22, 1995

Fons obituary in Milw. Journal
Feb. 22, 1995

Credits: bulk of information from Wisconsin Light, v08-05;
Web site concept, design, contents and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: November-2023.

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