A place for AIDS fighters

We are the AIDS fighters

A hundred people gathered in the Marais, at the level of the median separating the rue de Rivoli and the rue Saint-Antoine (4th arrondissement) under a fine rain. Despite the masks, hats, scarves and umbrellas, people recognize each other and greet each other. Association activists and people concerned for the most part, they have met and dated for years. After an introductory speech by Ariel Weil, mayor of Paris center, the floor is given to Hugues Charbonneau, long-time activist in the fight against AIDS (former vice-president of Act Up-Paris and former executive director of Sidaction). In a powerful and moving speech, the activist pays a vibrant tribute to the fighters in the fight against AIDS. “Fighting AIDS means fighting prejudices, fighting the ineptitude of administrative and political powers, fighting moral judgments, fighting repressive policies, fighting for our rights, fighting for a living. We are AIDS fighters (…). I am thinking of the very first patients isolated in sterile rooms at the back of the infectious disease departments. I think of shame. I think of fear. I think of the distress of the families, of the wandering of the survivors. I think of those who knew they were going to die, of those left alone. I think of the nurses who had the courage to treat, those who remained in the wards ”. Hugues Charbonneau recalls the history of the beginnings of the associative HIV movement in the 1980s: “This movement is a social movement in all its dimensions, people who were not destined to cross paths or to know each other, HIV-positive people, HIV-positive people. , parents, trans, gays, lesbians, straight guys, scientists, caregivers, drug users, people. It was the epidemic of queers, junkies, hookers, trans, strangers, hemophiliacs, not the kind patients. Our lives were judged, our loves barely tolerated, but we have become a movement (…). We invented expert patients, we invented community health ”.

The wrath of Act Up-Paris

This inauguration is not unanimous among activists in the fight against HIV / AIDS. Some of the activists of Act Up-Paris called for a boycott of this event, in particular in reaction to the Bidard vs Bartoli affair. Marc-Antoine Bartoli, former president of Act Up-Paris, was indicted following a defamation complaint filed by Hélène Bidard, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of gender equality, youth and of popular education and elected communist in the 11th arrondissement. Last July, the activist specified “this complaint follows comments I made on Twitter in February 2020 after the death of a sex worker, Jessyca Sarmiento, in the Bois de Boulogne, in order to denounce the political support of Bidard to the law of penalizing customers and the Nid movement ”. On Twitter, Act Up-Paris reacted to this inauguration: “Commemorative plaques do not heal us, do not protect us from contamination / discrimination, do not protect us from elected officials who are complicit in reactionary policies making the bed of the world. ‘epidemic. # HélèneBidard ”. Pierre Dauphin, secretary general of Act Up-Paris, for his part denounces “an approach that is both opportunistic and derisory on the part of the municipality” in a interview in the Télérama newspaper.

Hugues Charbonneau is aware of these criticisms and takes advantage of this public speech to affirm his support for sex workers: “To the elected representatives of Paris, I want to say that we will continue to demand the abolition of prohibitionist laws, that we will continue to mercilessly fight their supporters. No power intimidates us. Nobody silences us! Yes, we are outrageous! Yes, we are sometimes embarrassing, but we will not give up! Placing respect for our choices and our lives at the heart of your public policies is the only gesture that can make you fighters against AIDS. Otherwise, you will just be passers-by in front of this plate ”. Powerful words.

Tribute to associations

After speeches by the association Les Amis du Patchwork des Names and Line Renaud, it is Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris and PS candidate for the 2022 presidential election, who closes this inauguration with a speech that pays tribute to the associations and in particular Act Up-Paris and AIDES: “Silence = Death as recalled by the slogans of Act Up-Paris that I want to salute here (…). In 1984, the association AIDES was created in Paris by Daniel Defert, following the death of his companion Michel Foucault. Today, it is one of the main associations in the fight against AIDS in Europe and its action shines throughout the world through the international network that it has also been able to set up ”. The mayor of Paris also salutes the work of Arcat Sida, Vaincre Le Sida, the very first French association to fight AIDS, Ensemble contre le SIDA (which will become Sidaction), Actions Traitements, Sol En Si, Solidarité Sida, Basiliade, Afrique Avenir, Uraca, Ikambere, the Info Kiosk, Les Petits Bonheurs, Acceptes-T, les Séropotes, Dessine-moi Un Mouton… and I am forgetting some, ”adds Anne Hildago. “The patient, Daniel Defert tells us, is a social reformer”, and it is undoubtedly those suffering from AIDS, people living with HIV and those who are involved in this fight alongside them, who have shaped medical history, but also the social, societal and contemporary history of our city and our country, ”concluded the Mayor of Paris before unveiling the plaque to the public.

A place of remembrance in New York

In his speech, Ariel Weil, mayor of central Paris, spoke of the “Place des combatantes et combatants du SIDA” as a place “unique in the world. In fact, most major cities around the world already have a commemorative place honoring those who have died of HIV / AIDS. Some countries have distinguished themselves with more ambitious projects even if, to date, no country has announced the creation of a museum dedicated to the fight against HIV / AIDS. Small, non-exhaustive selection of places worth seeing. Inaugurated on December 1, 2016, New York City Aids Memorial is a place of remembrance to pay tribute to the more than 100,000 New Yorkers who have died of AIDS. The monument which is located in Greenwich Village consists of a 5.5 meter steel canopy that covers a place with an area of ​​150 m2 which serves as a gateway to the public park of the former hospital of Saint Vincent (epicenter of the care of AIDS patients in New York during the 80s / 90s). The place regularly offers cultural and artistic events as well as auctions and exhibitions.

A park in Montreal

Parc de l’Espoir is a commemorative public park for the Ville-Marie borough of the City of Montreal (Canada), located in the heart of the gay village of Montreal, at the corner of Panet and Sainte-Catherine streets East. Created following requests from gay militant groups, the park was officially inaugurated in September 1994, then redeveloped in 1997 into a place dedicated to the memory of people who died of HIV / AIDS in Quebec. It has become an LGBT +, political and cultural gathering place.

A column in Munich

Inaugurated on July 17, 2002, the monument is a column four meters high and 80 centimeters in diameter. Awarded in the competition launched by the municipality, Wolfgang Tillmans’ project reproduces, to scale, a blue ceramic column from the nearby metro station. The monument is located in the south-east of the city, in the district of Glockenbachviertel, also called the pink quarter (Rosa Viertel). More information in this article of our fellow-sisters from Transversal.

A giant red ribbon in Durban

Impressive this sculpture located in Gugu Dlamini Park in Durban (South Africa) and which represents a giant red ribbon, a global symbol of the fight against HIV / AIDS. The sculpture was unveiled in July 2000 on the occasion of the World Conference against HIV / AIDS, held that year in Durban. The park was renamed in 2000 to the name of Gugu Dlamini, a South African woman who was stoned and stabbed to death after publicly announcing that she was HIV positive on a Zulu-language radio on World Anti-Human Rights Day. AIDS in 1998.

A giant abacus in Amsterdam

On December 1, 2016, the Living by numbers monument was inaugurated in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the title of which refers, among other things, to the first pages of To the friend who did not save my life. ‘Hervé Guibert (1990). “The last tests, dated November 18, give me 368 T4, a healthy man has between 500 and 2000. T4 are that part of the leukocytes that the AIDS virus attacks first, gradually weakening the immune system. “. A sculpture created to remind us that the fight against AIDS is not over. Every year on December 1st, a new number will be presented on this giant abacus. A work created by Jean-Michel Othoniel, French sculptor artist.

The Artery, a little-known work

Located in the heart of Parc de la Villette in Paris, the Artery is a work by Fabrice Hyber, a French plastic artist, at the initiative of Sidaction. On 1001 m2, the set is made up of 16,000 ceramic tiles, designed by the artist and produced in Monterrey, Mexico, which are the support for hundreds of original drawings by the artist linked to the body and behavior. The overall shape of the work, inspired by the logo of the Sidaction association, symbolizes an untied red ribbon. A “monument to the victims” was not accurate, this type of sculpture of deadly academism did not reflect the vitality of the daily struggle. I imagined something else: an anti-monument, a work in its own right which offers dozens of images to use to continue and unite the struggles in one of the most visited public places in Paris. Hoping that the designs of this garden-site can disappear through excess use: I dream that L’Artère will exhaust the virus, ”said Fabrice Hyber. Inaugurated on December 1, 2006 by Jacques Chirac, former President of the Republic, the Artery remains relatively unknown to the general public to this day.

The AidsMemorial sur Instagram
Use social networks to pay tribute to people who have died of HIV / AIDS? This is what Aids Memorial offers on its account Instagram. Stories of love, mourning and memories published daily with personal photos sent by loved ones of missing persons. A dignified and touching way of bringing the memory of these sometimes forgotten fighters to life. Founded in 2017 by Stuart, a Scotsman who prefers to remain anonymous, Aids Memorial now has over 203,000 subscribers and over 8,000 tributes.

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