Chicago, IL
United States
Belmont Rocks AIDS Garden Chicago since 1 December 2019
without names
The AIDS Garden will be built along the Belmont Rocks, a space the gay community would gather at since the early days of Chicago's LGBT movement. The Rocks were about claiming the right to be, to exist, to gather outside and to be out of the shadows and the closet. The AIDS Garden seeks to help preserve that memory and to honor the history of HIV/AIDS in Chicago. It is fitting to create a garden in that Belmont Rocks space.

Since the early days of gay movement, the Belmont Rocks were a place to call our own. The lakefront stretch of stone and grass from Belmont to Diversey harbors was a public space Chicago’s LGBTQ community claimed from the 1960s through the 1990s. This was more than a frequented area. The Rocks were a political statement tied to our liberation, a symbol of our right to be here, our right to exist, and our right to gather outside and in the sunlight at a time when our bars still had blackened windows.  Community happened along this undesirable strip of uneven limestone blocks. Relationships and friendships happened here, hook-ups, unions, memorials, picnics, cookouts, dance parties, and rallies. Artwork covered many of these stones. At the Rocks, people lay in the sun, watched the sunset before going out, and sat to watch the sunrise after the bars closed.
 

In 2003 the Belmont Rocks were bulldozed and removed as part of a revetment project to safeguard against shoreline erosion. The Rocks themselves may be gone, but this portion of the Chicago shoreline will forever remain a place of celebration, joy, and remembrance in the pre-AIDS era and the throughout darkest days of the epidemic.

Ground breaking for the AIDS Garden Chicago is anticipated in early 2019 and the garden should be completed by fall 2019. 


AIDS Garden Chicago