Are you currently at the AIDS Monument in West Hollywood Park?
Behind every statistic of the AIDS epidemic are thousands of people whose stories continue to teach and inspire.
Explore the stories by clicking on the words.
Listen to an
Action = Life.”
ACT UP Campaigns, 1987-1995
ACT UP Campaigns
ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, is an international grassroots activist organization devoted to improving the lives of people with AIDS through direct action.
Their bold and brave work directly influenced legislation and policy, from lowering the price of medicines to speeding up drug trials and approval process to including women and people of color in medical trials. Many of their actions – like the die-in at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the covering of Jesse Helms’ home with a giant condom – are remembered as iconic moments in activism. ACT UP continues to fight, currently focusing on such issues as PrEP for All and the decriminalization of sex work and drug use.
“Silence = Death
Action = Life.”
Paul Monette, West Hollywood author.
Paul died of AIDS in 1995 at age 49.
Paul Monette’s activism endures through his groundbreaking and personal writing, in which he chronicled his coming out, his relationship, and his experience with HIV/AIDS with bracing humanity. He is the recipient of the National Book Award for Nonfiction for his memoir “Becoming a Man,” and the founder of the Monette-Horwitz Trust, which supports LGBTQ activism and scholarship.
“Go without hate, but not without rage. Heal the world.”
Essex Hemphill, Gay American poet and activist.
From “Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry”.
Hemphill died of AIDS in 1995 at age 38.
Poet, performer and activist Essex Hemphill’s exceptional work gave voice to the experiences of the African-American gay community. Never shying away from the frank and the political, Hemphill’s creative genius endures in his poetry and writing, as well as through his involvement in seminal films such as “Tongues Untied.”
“They don’t know we are becoming powerful. Every time we kiss we confirm the new world coming.”
Connie Norman, Trans and ACT UP/LA Activist.
Norman died of AIDS in 1996 at age 47.
Connie Norman, self-described “AIDS diva,” was a transgender activist and the Director of Public Policy at the AIDS Service Center in Pasadena. Upon her death in 1996, her ashes were scattered on the White House lawn as part of ACT UP’s “Ashes Action,” a fitting coda to her enduring legacy as a groundbreaking activist.
“Someday this plague will be over and we will survive as people to tell the tales. Don’t forget to tell how much we honored life. Don’t forget to tell how hard many of us fought for it. Life is and has always been precious to us and our community’s response to this plague proves it… Remember our heroes and heroines.”
Gil Cuadros, American gay poet, essayist, and ceramist.
From “Conquering Immortality” in City of God.
Gil died of AIDS in 1996 at age 34.
When the writer and ceramist Gil Cuadros was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, he was given six months to live. He lived for eight more years, stating that writing saved his life. Cuadros’ passion is evident in his groundbreaking work, which gives voice to the gay Chicano experience.
“I see my life as a series of facades, each layer an erosion… And what is left after my body torn down, is my soul.”
Elizabeth Glaser, AIDS Activist and Child Advocate.
Her daughter died of AIDS in 1988 at age 7.
Glaser died of AIDS in 1994 at age 47.
Elizabeth Glaser contracted HIV through a blood transfusion, passing the infection on to her children. Determined to help other children, she co-founded the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation in 1988, which has been crucial in tackling pediatric and juvenile HIV / AIDS. Among her most memorable moments of activism was her speech at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, in which she spoke passionately about underfunding and inequality in AIDS research and treatment.
“My daughter lived seven years, and in her last year, when she couldn’t walk or talk, her wisdom shone through. She taught me to love, when all I wanted to do was hate. She taught me to help others, when all I wanted to do was help myself. She taught me to be brave, when all I felt was fear. My daughter and I loved each other with simplicity. America, we can do the same.”
The AIDS Monument
The AIDS Monument
The land for this Monument was donated by the City of West Hollywood where, during the height of the crisis, 1981-1996, the City suffered a devastating toll, losing thousands of its residents to the plague.
As of 2020, AIDS has killed approximately 725,000 people in the United States, more than all of the Americans who died in World Wars I and II combined.
Globally, through the end of 2019, AIDS has killed over 32.7 million people.
The AIDS epidemic
is not over.
is not over.
Tens of thousands of Americans are infected with HIV each year, and many still die of AIDS. Stigma against those with HIV persists. Income inequality and the lack of equal access to health care remain the greatest obstacles to life-saving treatment for the most vulnerable Americans.
This Monument reminds us to never forget our history and inspires us to continue to fight for equal access to quality health care, for expanded civil rights, and for a cure.