CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined civic leaders Wednesday morning to launch Pride Month with the groundbreaking of AIDS Garden Chicago.
Ald. Tom Tunney, Congressman Mike Quigley, along with members of the LGBTQ community, joined the mayor to officially break the ground on the long-awaited AIDS Garden.
“This garden is also intended to be a tribute to the resilience of the LGBTQ community,” Tunney said.
Sen. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) joined Tunney in support of the project near Belmont and Lakefront.
“I called Tom Tunney up and said, ‘What does 44th Ward need?’ And he told me all about this amazing garden,” Feigenholtz said.
According to a press release, it is the city’s first public park to memorialize the early days of Chicago’s HIV epidemic and to honor those who continue to fight against the disease today.
The 2.5-acre park is situated at the original location of the historic Belmont Rocks. It will include unique areas designed for reflection, education, honor and pride.
Chicago’s first openly Lesbian mayor, Lori Lightfoot, remembered how she found herself at the Belmont Rocks, for decades a meeting place for Chicago’s LGBTQ community. On Wednesday, she marveled over the community’s diversity and the activism that demanded action to counteract HIV/AIDS.
“Without that activism, I wouldn’t be standing here today as a mayor of Chicago and I know that,” Lightfoot said.
Playwright Osiris Khepera drew attention to the stark reality that tens of thousands of Chicagoans are infected by HIV but access to treatment programs, oftentimes, is out of reach in many communities.
“Black and brown boys, ages 14 to 25 are still number one in infection rates,” she said. “Yet there are no shouts from the rooftops.”
AIDS Garden is expected to open in the fall.