The AIDS Memorial reflects a particular place and time. It is a physical monument in a park in a neighbourhood that was devastated by AIDS in the early years of the epidemic.
In the mid 1980’s a group of gay men, led by Michael Lynch, developed the idea for the AIDS Memorial in response to the isolation and fear that so often characterized the experience of AIDS. Volunteers constructed a temporary memorial every year on Lesbian and Gay Pride Day, while working with friends to raise funds in the community to build the permanent AIDS Memorial. The permanent AIDS Memorial, designed by Patrick Fahn, opened in 1993 in Barbara Hall Park, behind The 519 Community Centre. Over time. the Memorial became a place for everyone infected and affected by AIDS in the broader Toronto community. Names of those to be honored are engraved and installed each year, by mid-June.
“We…will not endure these waves of dying friends, without a cry,” Canadian AIDS activist Michael Lynch wrote in his 1989 poem “Cry.” And the late poet and professor certainly did not.
To Those Unnamed
We stand at this place; among earth and stone, branch and birch –
In darkness and in light, through sun and storm, rain and trees,
leaves and breeze: Life and Death.
Our strength, though withered and sapped, regenerates here.