‘A fitting memorial to the forgotten pandemic of the 1980s’: an AIDS memorial is coming to Birmingham

‘If it’s not remembered now, we will all be gone’

There will be an online fundraiser hosted by Nightingale Club, featuring drag perforners, on February 19 to raise money for the memorial.

The memorial will honour all those impacted by HIV and AIDS and serve as a beacon of hope.

Although an exact location has not yet been decided, the memorial will be in Birmingham’s Southside District, home to the Gay Village.

The Birmingham Tab spoke to Garry Jones who is behind the original idea for the memorial. Inspired by the new TV show It’s A Sin, he recalls the HIV pandemic of the 1980s.

“I was 21 in 1981, so it really resonated with me, I was one of those characters”, Garry told The Birmingham Tab.

Inspired by the show, Garry took to Facebook: “I put on the gay history group would anybody be interested in getting us a memorial”. From there it “just snowballed. It was Monday two weeks ago when I put this message on Facebook and it’s just gone from there”, he told The Birmingham Tab.

Garry told The Birmingham Tab the current pandemic means “we are all reflecting on our lives, and the time to remember this disease is right now.

“For younger people, it has educated them, showing you how difficult it was, and for us it has made us remember again.

“That was 40 years ago, if it’s not remembered now, we will all be gone”.

Garry wants “the memorial to be a beacon of hope for the future. To show people you don’t need to die of HIV anymore, you can be tested and live a normal life on antiretroviral medication”, he told The Birmingham Tab.

Whilst the location and what the memorial will look like have not yet been confirmed, the committee behind the memorial have some ideas.

The logo for the Memorial Committee

In terms of location, Garry told The Birmingham Tab “Hippodrome Square and Ladywell Walk which is the top of Hurst Street, where the Gay Village started and where the old Nightingale used to be on Thorpe Street” would be ideal.

“This was the heart of the village then, so we are hoping we can get something done in the redevelopment in that area”, he told The Birmingham Tab.

However, nothing is confirmed and Garry said “until we meet with planners, we don’t know what we can do yet, and it also depends how much money we get. But we can dream can’t we?”

Speaking of what the memorial will look like, Garry told The Birmingham Tab: “depending on where we are able to locate it will dictate to us what we are able to do”.

One of the ideas for the memorial is based around the iconic red ribbon which is strongly linked to HIV and also symbolises a heart.

However Garry just wants it to be “something big and symbolic as a fitting memorial to the forgotten pandemic of the 1980s. Serving as a beacon of hope for the continuing fight against stigma and ignorance for those living with HIV”.

Saving Lives is a major HIV charity in Birmingham who the committee have paired with for this fundraiser. The committee are also receiving support from nightclub Nightingales.

Nightingales Club will be hosting the online fundraiser on February 19 at 7pm. It will be airing for free on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Twitch.

Performers include Black Peppa, Ginny Lemon, Cheddar Gorgeous and many more. You can donate to the fundraiser here.

Testing for HIV is now easier than ever, and now is the time to check. For a free test, follow this link.

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