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INTERVIEW: Why we need a London AIDS Memorial

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  1. Simon Murphy 22 Dec 2009, 5:22pm

    Nice idea.

    However I don’t see why an Aids memorial is any more worthy than a cancer memorial or a heart disease memorial or an Alzheimers memorial.

    Do such memorials already exist and have they received public funding? If not then why not?

    All of those are diseases which can kill painfully and the victims ultimately fight their battles alone. Those who have died from those illnesses are equally brave.

    I’m not trivialising the experiences of the people who died of Aids. But the reality is that a terminal illness will kill you regardless of what that illness is.

  2. It would be a big mistake to just have a memorial to AIDS. What abot those who suffer form cancer ect.. do they not also deserved to me memorialised also?.

    Would it not be better to have a memorial that represents those who are suffering or have died not just HIV.

  3. jonnielondon 22 Dec 2009, 6:07pm

    Toronto has had an AIDS memorial since 1995. It’s a wonderful way to commemorate the many lives of people who have died from this horrible scourge. See: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenngc/4151281911/ and http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/555984015bXuupY

  4. Mathewlondon 22 Dec 2009, 7:03pm

    This is interesting, although I do tend to agree with Simon and Abi’s comments, HIV is not the only illness out there that we lose loved ones to.
    Has anyone thought of contacting HIV charities and or Positive Nation the HIV magazine about their thoughts and not just a gay publican’s idea. The stigma surrounding gay people living with HIV is tenfold as it is, if anyone should be starting a facebook pageon wether or not to have a memorial the surely it should be the Charities and people who have worked within the HIV services to ask the community if it’s wanted.
    There is the AIDS memorial quilt which is in itself a memorial to those we have lost which is displayed every WAD at various points throughout the country, How about investing the money that it would cost to build, make and maintain a memorial into the exsisting HIV charities instead? I mean lets face it if the government can’t afford to fund a HIV charity resulting in its closure, then surely the money used for a memorial would be best placed in keeping the services open for people living with HIV to access.

  5. I see the sentiment in all this, but I suspect it would probably cause more resentment than it would sympathy.

    Knowing the ridiculous costs of these bits of monument, wouldn’t it be better spent on AIDS research, prevention and helping those already infected to a better quality of life?

  6. Glad to see that most of the comments above on this article are critical of the idea of an AIDS memorial. I am sceptical about it too. Such things, especially if they are to be in prominent positions, generally end up costing millions. (Think of the ill-fated Diana Memorial!) Surely those millions would be far better spent on AIDS research, research into a cure and a vaccine.

    So they stick up an AIDS memorial somewhere, and people walk past and think, “Oh, yes, lots of people have HIV and lots of people have died of AIDS”. It isn’t going to achieve much more than that, is it? And is that an outcome worth spending millions on? No. Everyone already damn well knows that lots of people have HIV and lots of people have died of AIDS, just as, as has been pointed out above, lots of people have ALL SORTS OF DISEASES and lots of people have died of ALL SORTS OF DISEASES.

    If these guys want to insist on an AIDS Memorial then they need to shift their thinking towards a “Disease Garden” in Hyde Park! A special garden full of different sculptures or memorials to ALL the scores of major diseases that afflict people in the UK and the world today.

    “The Muscular Dystrophy Memorial”

    “The Cancer Memorial”

    “The Heart Disease Memorial”

    “The Cerebrovascular Diseases Memorial”

    “The Chronic Respiratory Diseases Memorial”

    “The Diabetes Memorial”

    “The Influenza and Pneumonia Memorial”

    “The Alzheimer’s Memorial”

    “HIV/AIDS Memorial”

    “The Diarrhoeal Diseases Memorial”

    “The Tuberculosis Memorial”

    “The Unintentional Fatal Injuries Memorial”

    and so on, and so on, and so on!

    Quite a cluttered little section of Hyde Park it would be.

    Morbid, yes, but perhaps as effective in the visiting as a stroll round any cemetery or Garden of Remembrance of one’s choosing.

  7. Don’t forget the Darwin Memorial for those that have unintentionally killed themselves through gross stupidity, before having had children, thus hopefully eliminating their idiocy from the common human gene pool.

    I can think if a fair few stupid people. It’s just unfortunate they haven’t managed to accidentally top themselves yet.

  8. Well keep trying.

  9. Brian Burton 22 Dec 2009, 9:33pm

    Would an Aids Monument be a monument to man’s stupidity? I wonder who defined man as a rational animal? It was the most premature defanition ever given. Man is many things, but he is not rational.

  10. Thank you all for sharing your views – aside from jonnielondon – none of it surprises me. Whatever the memorial turns out to be it is unlikely to be publicly funded or take money away from HIV/AIDS charities. Rather than focus on 8 people ready to pour water on the fire we are focussing on over 1,800 people who think the opposite and are willing to offer time, experience and ideas. This is the way forward.

  11. Garak Dussein Kobama 22 Dec 2009, 9:57pm

    See COMMENT 9

  12. Amsterdam has a Homo-monument. The monument demarcates public space for grief and remembrance.

    Unfortunately, we do not need to look just to Aids and the holocaust to find LGBT suffrage.

    Our suffrage through out the ages has placed LGBT people in a position demarcated by tragedy, and on an archetypal we have often been the pervert, diseased or contagion of the age. . . is any thing different to day?

    The Dutch homo-monument is in keeping with the recognition of our universally suffrage.

    http://www.homomonument.nl/index.htm

  13. Garak Dussein Kobama wrote
    “What about setting up a memorial, which would remind people that homosexual practice destroyed millions of lives as the primary cause of AIDS? Well, yeah, not politically correct. But, at least, telling the truth may deter at least one life from being lost.”

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Heterosexual practice in Africa and the Popes insistence that people do not use contraceptive is to blame for HIV and Aids in this country, not homosexual practice..

    Garak, would you want to set up a memorial to heterosexual practice and the Roman Catholic churches perverse contraception policy. Perhaps we could then mark the latter’s inherent, disorder and moral evil in an age of science and enlightenment.

  14. Typo correction

    Amsterdam has a Homo-monument. The monument demarcates public space for grief and remembrance.

    Unfortunately, we do not need to look just to Aids and the holocaust to find LGBT suffrage.

    Our suffrage through out the ages has placed LGBT people in a position demarcated by tragedy, and on an archetypal level we have often been the pervert, diseased or contagion of the age. . . is any thing different to day?

    The Dutch homo-monument is in keeping with the recognition of our universally suffrage.

    http://www.homomonument.nl/index.htm

  15. Garak Dussein Kobama wrote
    “What about setting up a memorial, which would remind people that homosexual practice destroyed millions of lives as the primary cause of AIDS? Well, yeah, not politically correct. But, at least, telling the truth may deter at least one life from being lost.”

    CORRECTION : The primary cause of AIDS is ignorance, bigotry and homophobia by heterosexuals obsessed by religious doctrine, as Uganda is currently proving. Love is in such short supply. This thread is about a memorial, over 18,000 in the UK who have dies of AIDS, please keep to the point Garak. If you can’t do this, I suggest you leave and take your malice elsewhere.

  16. Swarmite: CORRECTION: The primary cause of AIDS is man’s inability to keep his dick in his pants.

  17. I would be in favour of this memorial if only to remind people that contrary to an apparently growing assumption, AIDS remains a killer disease which the medications are only delaying. If AIDS doesn’t end up killing you in the end, then the meds will. Guys, your hearts are clearly in the right place!

  18. I don’t think there is same prejudice and stigma associated with other diseases sych as cancer.

    Anything that keeps HIV and AIDS in people’s attention is good in my books.

    Many thousands of Gay men lost their lives, with little or no medical intervention. A memorial for that horror alone is long overdue.

  19. roland chesters 23 Dec 2009, 2:56pm

    In support of Comment 16 and to clarify Comment 6: “lots of people have died of AIDS” – people are STILL dying of AIDS in the UK (nearly 600, I believe, in the UK in 2008). The biggest killer is the complacency with the condition is now treated (viz “Oh yeah, lots of people have HIV”). I have AIDS. I am on medication. My longterm future is uncertain. HIV specialists are now starting to treat an ageing population of HIV’ers – without really knowing what the longterm effects of the treatment will be. I did not catch AIDS because of my “inability to keep my dick in my pants” – one longterm partner (OK, it turns out that he was not able to keep his dick in his pants)so please don’t paint all HIV/AIDS sufferers with the same brush. What would this memorial, which I wholeheartedly support mean to me? A reminder that we are all fallible, that life is a transitory gift that we should cherish and make the most of it. A reminder that the countless numbers who have died, not just in London, but across the world, are not forgotten, as I hope I will not be forgotten.

  20. jonnielondon 23 Dec 2009, 5:34pm

    Well put, roland. I wanted to add some more info about Toronto’s memorial. It was a mere $75,000 Canadian dollars to fund…about $40,000 pounds? (I’m not sure, so someone please check for me). It’s in a lovely park in the gay village. Names are added each year. It’s a wonderful, respectful (and non-judgmental — for RobN) commemoration of the proud lives of those who have lived and died from AIDS. More at: http://www.artistswithaids.org/artery/centerpieces/memorial_toronto.html

  21. Codex wrote: “If AIDS doesn’t end up killing you in the end, then the meds will.”

    Codex, who are you exactly? You sound very much like a certain loony AIDS-Denialist we have had on these threads who is seeking to convince people with HIV to ditch their medications because “the medications are the killer, not the HIV!”.

  22. jonnielondon: I am someone that sees themself as a realist. I have seen many suffer, and one actually die in my presence due to this vile disease. However, I think bronze plinths and the like are pointless, wasteful and seem to serve the people left behind more than those that ultimately paid the price of a quick shag on the heath.

    I’ve said it many times on here before, but people only see priorities when they have to. Everyone runs around like headless chickens about swine flu, and a few hundred die. Wait till HIV becomes drug resistant, or God forbid, airborne, then people will jump. AIDS was only a big thing when you saw it’s effect. Now it’s viewed as “Oh, that’s just so 80’s, daaahlink!”

    I am one of a rare breed, I was amongst the scene people right in the middle of that initial infection, and amazingly walked away unscathed, but it was not difficult to notice people of my own age, or a few years above and below, were missing. There was a ‘hole’ in my demographic. That’s because they were either dead or dying. Even as an atheist, I say “By the grace of God” – It could have been me, and I never underestimate the lethality of this plague.

    HIV/AIDS needs money. Lots of it. Nothing has changed and it still kills. The only difference is, the current bunch of typical, tight-fisted, “not-my-problem” faggots think it’s all over. Well, don’t hold your breath, but your day may still come when you live to regret that thought.

  23. But RobN – isn’t that the point: “Nothing has changed and it still kills”? Whilst I absolutely agree that more money is needed to combat this disease, this memorial can only servie to remind that it does still kill. Why can there not be a major financial investment in research as well as the creation of a memorial? Surely, in principle, the two can exist side by side?

  24. Roland: The country is scattered with hundreds of memorials to the thousands of our fallen who died in the World Wars. Not that I want to berate those people’s enormous sacrifice, but have they stopped any war since? We know the answer is “Not a jot”.

    I just feel the money would be far better served in a useful and practical way than some artistic gesture stuck in a square or field somewhere.

  25. Rob – I fully appreciate your point and do in fact support it as far as war memorials go, and I too would not want money to be squandered on a useless gesture if you could be put to better use elsewhere. However, my point is, and perhaps I am not explaining myself clearly enough, that, given that I don’t know how to affect how the funding for medical research is distributed, the least gesture I feel I can make (and believe, I am making others in supporting those in the HIV/AIDS community in a number of other ways) is in supporting this memorial. Please allow me that at least!

  26. To Eddy @ 21: Scientific research has shown that HIV medications over time, varying from person to person, inflict serious side effects on the brain and immune system which for many AIDS sufferers in the US have proven lethal. That is a fact. Why do you try to pretend otherwise? Yes, these drugs are helping to prolong the lives of most AIDS sufferers but they are not a cure and they certainly aren’t the answer, so please stop trying to pretend that they are. These drugs, like most prescription drugs, contain compounds that are poison to the human system, and over time these poisons build up and paralyse the body’s natural defences. Do your research! It is people like you who are sending out the message that HIV is no longer a problem because these meds will keep you living long, happy, healthy lives. That is simply not true and is a myth that must be well and truly nipped in the bud. It is about time the truth of living – and dying – with HIV/AIDS was broadcastr loud and clear as a disincentive for gay men choosing bareback sex over their health and, in the long-term, their lives.

  27. PS: I am not saying “ditch the drugs” at all and never would be so irresponsible. I am simply saying let’s tell the truth about the serious condition HIV remains to dissuade people from practising unsafe sex so that they never have to be in the position of having to use these harmful drugs to prolong their lives in the first place. Big difference!!

  28. Is rememberance really a waste of money ?

    Surely, without a historical focus that memorials provide through their symbolic power, we not only cut our self off from the past; but also the future as well.

  29. Roland: Appreciated. There does need to be publicity and focus to raise awareness and money. I just get bad feelings when I think of things like the “Diana Memorial Park”, and the utter waste. I’m sure she would not have approved.

    Codex: The other matter you failed to mention is that HIV+ people, even under medication will lose at least 10 years off of their lives, some say double that.

  30. Rob, Codex – believe me, as one who was diagnosed with late-stage AIDS and who was therefore put onto medication immediately after diagnosis – no discussion, no counselling – and has therefore been tied to the pill dispenser for the past three years, I am very well aware of all the arguments. I know those tablets keep me alive, and yet the side effects (which have been so vile that in the three years of treatment my combination has had to change four times)are also taking their toll on my health. But what would you have me do? Not take the medications and allow AIDS to kill me – or take the tablets and allow those to kill me? Which would you choose? I support a memorial (I think this is where the debate first started, was it not?)because I don’t want as few people as possible having to face that same decision, I want them to be reminded of what HIV/AIDS actually means.
    Enough said – it’s Xmas Eve. How many more will I see? I don’t know. Allow me to enjoy this one, at least.

  31. Roland: You have my deepest admiration and sympathies. I would never try to dismiss the situation you and many others like you have to suffer on a daily basis. I just think if you are going to try to prevent more cases like you, you have to publicise and frankly, scare the living sh!t out of people to get a reaction.

    Some natty bit of sculpture is just going to make people look back, not forwards, and allow people to assume the problem has now been wrapped up in a nice pharmaceutical solution with a red ribbon tied on top.

    People are naturally selfish, and always assume it’s “someone else’s problem” – the only way you will hit home is by frightening the bejeezus out of them. I saw it back in the 80’s when people were genuinely concerned, but the veil of complacency has since fallen over the problem and everyone thinks it’s old news.

    On a personal note, I’m sure you will be around for many years to come, and I wish you a Merry Christmas for you and yours. x

  32. “I know those tablets keep me alive, and yet the side effects (which have been so vile that in the three years of treatment my combination has had to change four times)are also taking their toll on my health. But what would you have me do?”

    Roland, I feel for you, but once again WHERE have I told anyone to stop taking the pills? I haven’t and I wouldn’t as they remain the best preventive measure for delaying the onset of full-blown AIDS. What I AM saying is that examples like yours need to form the basis of a whole new approach to HIV prevention campaigns to make naive gay men, particularly youngsters, understand what people like you are going through even with the meds. And, as RobN points out, HIV in tandem with the meds will shave an average 21 years off the average sufferer’s lifespan according to the latest studies. These are the truths that have been lost amid a welter of HIV campaigns that have led people to believe that HIV is no more dangerous than non-lethal STDs, along with representatives of the gay men’s sexual health industry lying that the meds will keep everyone fit and healthy into old age. It is simply not true, and these deceptions are draining the NHS budget and ultimately costing lives. Just check out the latest Out magazine where THT know-it-all Lisa Power is commenting on the latest horrendous HIV rates among gay men. Despite the clamour in our community for a return to harder-hitting HIV campaigns, this foolish woman maintains the THT will not go down this route as it does not believe that “scare-mongering” works. Like all of their other ideas have worked? Get real! These PC zealots refuse to tell gay men what the horror of HIV really entails, Roland, and THAT is why gay men have become complacent and are becoming infected in record numbers. Gay men won’t start taking responsibility for their behaviour again until they are told the truth about HIV and shocked into playing safe by direct, hard-hitting campaigns that depict experiences such as your own. Agencies like the THT are the problem where HIV is concerned in this country. They sure aren’t the solution.

  33. RobN, Codex – I agree with both of you, and yet I still feel that some kind of AIDS awareness raising monument (not a “memorial” then?) could potentially help. HIV research funding has been cut because it has sunk below the radar – not only in the gay community but wider than that. I organised a World AIDS Day briefing with external speakers in the central govt dept where I work, advertised by posters with my name and giving my status on them . Some of the posters were defaced or slashed. The attendance at the event was minimal. I do voluntary work with The Food Chain, which provides specially prepared meals for people living with HIV/AIDS and regularly see people in London who live in isolated squalor, ignored or abandoned by others, who have given in, given up to the condition. I consider myself extremely lucky in that I have refused to give in to it. I do what I can: I raised a question at a recent All Party Parliamentary Group on AIDS open meeting to discuss how the potential forcing underground of gay men in Uganda if the discrimination bill goes through will effectively prevent any HIV treatment there. I asked how the Ministers feel that they could act in a country so far away when the levels of stigma, complacency or ignorance remain so high in this country? There was general agreement that this was an issue (and indeed Lisa Power, who was in the audience) congratulated me on the question. But this is just me. Some kind of mark to say “we are still here, this is still an issue, do something about it” (again – not a memorial!) is long overdue, don’t you think?
    And now, time to go to bed or I fear that Santa may not come down the chimney!….

  34. theotherone 29 Dec 2009, 12:37am

    I remember fighting (well shouting and running away mostly) here in Scotland at the time of the Clause 28 repeal. I remember fighting in my life time. Either you lot are exceptionally young or you have staggeringly poor memories but either way the vile, putrid crap you speak astounds me.

    Why not a [insert dis ease of choice] memorial? What’s special about AIDS?

    Try the fact that it wiped out a fvck1ng generation, try that the ‘Queer Disease’ panic led to a rise in homophobic attacks, try that Clause 28 was brought in on the back of it.

    Try remembering the history of your community. Yes we should give money to AIDs charities but we should put up a big fvck off statue in place to remind people of what happened here, what happened in america, Asia, what is still happening in Africa.

  35. Brian Burton 29 Dec 2009, 8:30am

    The 1918/1919 Flu eperdemic killed more people than were killed in WW1 on those Battlefields. The Virus could not be even contained then as it can now. Same with HIV/AIDS there is no cure but there is containment. There will be many hard peace-time lessons to be learned, more deseases we never dreamed existed to endure. We all run to our ruin in one way or another…there’s no escape button to press.

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