Remembering the Belmont Rocks
Local leaders cut the ribbon to open the AIDS Garden Chicago at Belmont and the lake last week.
Why it matters: The garden pays tribute to Chicagoans who lost their lives to AIDS, while honoring the history and significance of the Belmont Rocks.
Catch up quick: The Rocks served as a gathering place for the LGBTQ+ community for decades, including during the AIDS crisis, but were removed in 2003 due to erosion.
- Now, the garden is all that remains from that crucial time in history.
What they're saying: "The Belmont Rocks were a place of empowerment," says Chicago historian Owen Keehnen. "It remained the daylight place to be throughout the years of gay liberation — this was a place to bring the celebration."
- "This was a place of light and fun and picnics and flirting and hanging with friends at a time when there was this horrible darkness and fear shrouding so much of life."
- "These queer pioneers built relationships and created a community strong enough to pull together and survive an epidemic, because no help was coming from the outside."
Go deeper: Keehnen runs a Facebook page that collects memories from that time at the lake.
- Also check out a WGN Radio interview Justin did with Owen in 2019 on this history.
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