LGBTQ San Diego County News
San Diego is the only major city in North America that does not have an AIDS memorial, but that will finally change as plans are currently underway for an official groundbreaking ceremony to be held later this year in Olive Street Park in the Bankers Hill neighborhood, just a few blocks from Balboa Park.
The Executive Committee of the San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force, whose co-chairs are first lady of San Diego Katherine Stuart-Faulconer and City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez, who is the founder of the AIDS memorial and has continuously lobbied for more than 30 years for the establishment of a memorial in San Diego, met last week at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral to discuss final plans for the AIDS memorial within Olive Street Park. Mayor Kevin Faulconer established the AIDS Memorial Task Force to come up with a location and design for the memorial and after nearly five years of meetings, site visits, Parks and Recreation processes, and votes, the Olive Street Park location was selected when it was proposed by then-City Councilman Todd Gloria and approved unanimously by the San Diego City Council.
“The overwhelming feedback from San Diegans affected by the AIDS crisis was that they wanted a quiet, peaceful place to go and remember the over 8,000 men, women and children we have lost to AIDS,” stated Susan Jester, founder of San Diego AIDS Walk. Some LGBTQ+ San Diegans felt the memorial should be in Hillcrest by the rainbow flag and crosswalk, while others felt it should be in Balboa Park. Mayor Susan Golding established a different task force, also chaired by Commissioner Murray-Ramirez, which attempted to have the memorial built in Balboa Park. Their efforts where met with strong opposition by Balboa Park officials. Many at that time also felt that the top priority for any money raised for HIV/AIDS should go to agencies to help with their needs.
The current San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force announced its goals and three plans more than five years ago at a press conference held at Mama’s Kitchen and since then, has received overwhelming support from San Diegans, though there has been minor organized opposition by proponents of the Hillcrest rainbow flag location. “I believe that San Diegans will approve of and embrace the AIDS memorial in the new Olive Street Park,” stated Murray-Ramirez. He also said, “The San Diego AIDS Memorial is being built with the love and memories we have of the over 8,000 people we have lost. They must never ever be forgotten.”
The AIDS memorial will include three beautiful panels, which will feature the history of AIDS in San Diego, the HIV/AIDS organizations that helped so many through such a dark time, and pay tribute to the important part that women and caregivers played during the crisis.
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