Almost by default, the task of keeping those names and remembrances alive in a largely amnesiac culture fell to volunteers like Mr. Armstrong.
“I had a personal affinity for the subject, but I kept trying to avoid it,” he said, declining to elucidate. “I thought, I’ll just post a few and see what happens, and then it went on and on and on.”
The original 1,000 followers multiplied exponentially after the account was cited in i-D magazine in 2017, where Mr. Armstrong said of the disease’s casualties, “They just died and died and died.”
As the numbers grew, so, too, did the stories of women, men and trans people, celebrated or anonymous, some as famous as Freddie Mercury, others as obscure as John Schultz, a writer and apparent hell-rake whose best friend, Katrina del Mar, vividly remembered being eighty-sixed with him at nightspots — like Boots & Saddle and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut — across the city.
“Huge emotional moment during Madonna’s #LivetoTell, her moving tribute to all those lost to AIDS especially those that had touched her life,” wrote the Soft Cell singer Marc Almond on Instagram. “When Martin Burgoyne’s face appeared on a huge screen, I’m not ashamed to say that I had tears running down my face.”
There are tales of men like Bill Powell of Knoxville, Tenn., “a savior of old buildings, stray dogs and lost souls”; of April Renee Dunaway, seen on Instagram and now in Madonna’s tour performances as a young mother, holding aloft her infant and posted to the account by her child, now the drag performer #trinitythetuck.