Ground breaking planed for AIDS Monument in WeHo Park

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Wave Staff Report

WEST HOLLYWOOD — The Foundation for the AIDS Monument will conduct a private groundbreaking event June 5 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first report related to AIDS. 

The event, for invited guests, will be held at the future site of STORIES: The AIDS Monument in West Hollywood Park. 

The monument is being developed by the Foundation for the AIDS Monument in partnership with the city of West Hollywood. It will be a permanent 7,000-square-foot installation with an audio tour and audio stories. The monument’s purpose is to remember those who have died of AIDS, those who survived, the protests and vigils, the caregivers and to educate future generations from lessons learned. 

The monument is designed by Daniel Tobin of UAP Company, whose design was selected following a design competition. It is scheduled to open in late 2022.

The June 5 event will feature a variety of speakers, including author and activist George Takei; Dr. Michael Gottlieb, who first identified HIV while treating patients in Los Angeles; Minority AIDS Project Co-Founder and Owner of the former Catch-One nightclub Jewel Thais-Williams; Black AIDS Institute Founder Phill Wilson; Project Angel Food Founder Marianne Williamson; state Sen. Ben Allen; county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl; West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath; Jeanne White-Ginder, Ryan White’s mother; Rabbi Denise Eggar; actors Peter Paige and Bobby Gonzalez Gant and activist Bamby Salcedo.

The Foundation for the AIDS Monument was started by a group of volunteers who wanted the city to create a monument that would tell the history of the AIDS epidemic, both locally and nationally, for future generations. 

The foundation was founded in 2013 and since that time has raised over $5 million for the design, construction and installation of the monument and related programming and community activities to make the dream of such a monument into a reality.

The onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic had a significant impact on West Hollywood from 1981 through the mid-1990s. The elevated HIV infection rate among gay men caused a devastatingly high number of deaths in the city. 

The city was one of the first government entities to provide social services grants to local AIDS and HIV organizations and to sponsor an AIDS awareness campaigns in the country in October 1985. The city’s response to the AIDS crisis has been recognized as a model for other cities, nationally and globally.