Tag: Memorial

Campaigners to create memorial for gay men brutally killed 25 years ago

Terry Sweet: Remembering the death of two gay men that shook a UK city

Terry Sweet lost his life in the savage attack, while Bernard Hawkin was left permanently disabled (Screenshot: ITV)

Campaigners are fundraising to create a memorial for two gay men who were left for dead following a brutal homophobic attack in Plymouth 25 years ago.

Terry Sweet and Bernard Hawken were found lying 200 yards apart just after midnight on 7 November 1995 in the city’s Central Park. They had both sustained horrific injuries, with their faces and genitalia slashed and mutilated.

Terry, who was 64 years old, died at the scene, while 54-year-old Bernard survived the attack but was left brain damaged and in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He died many years later as a result of his injuries.

The local LGBT+ community has now launched a fundraiser so they can erect a plaque and plant a tree in memory of Sweet and Hawken.

They needed to raise £500 to create the memorial, but they have already raised more than double that figure. Additional funds raised will go towards building a training course to help challenge hate crime in the city.

Alan Butler, one of the directors of Pride in Plymouth, asked the LGBT+ community to chip in so they can make sure Sweet and Hawken are not forgotten.

“We need to acknowledge as part of our history, as part of our heritage, to remember these two men, and to look at how far we’ve come, hopefully, in the last 25 years and how far we have to go,” Butler said.

“We find ourselves now in a position where we’re able to offer a permanent memorial to the two men, so a plaque on a bench at the scene of the attack, and also to plant a tree to look ahead to the future.

“So we’re very much hoping that people in the community will be keen to support us in creating that memorial and also looking at perhaps some educational material around hate crime and continuing to challenge it in the future.”

Three teenagers were jailed for life over the brutal attack in Plymouth.

The fundraiser was launched by Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth.

“To help us build this lasting memorial to Terry, please contribute to this crowdfunder,” he said.

“Every penny will make a difference to providing something beautiful in Central Park, but it will also help Pride in Plymouth continue their work in challenging hate in our city. Love is love, and you can make a difference by donating today.”

Three teenagers were later jailed for life for the brutal attack, and shortly afterwards, their friends and followers desecrated the crime scene with vile graffiti.

“In memory of Terry Sweet, may he rest in pieces… ha ha,” the assailants scrawled in spray paint. “No queers here, your [sic] banned or face death.”

On the path close to where Sweet was found, someone spray-painted the outline of a body next to the words: “Please step over spilt AIDS!”

The gruesome attacks shocked the city’s LGBT+ community, and became a symbol of the work that still needed to be done to stamp out homophobia.

Now you can see all 48,000 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt online / GayCities Blog

Now you can see all 48,000 panels of the AIDS

We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic but let’s not forget one of its horrendous predecessors, HIV/AIDS, which has taken a huge toll on gay men and continues to wreak havoc across the globe.

To bring awareness to the 40-year struggle of AIDS — a story of heartbreak, remembrance, social justice, activism, resilience, and hope —  the National AIDS Memorial is launching a new web platform where you can see every panel contributed to the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

“The National AIDS Memorial stands as a marker in the national landscape to the tragedy of HIV and AIDS and this new web platform provides an important tool in helping share the stories of the pandemic,” said John Cunningham, executive director of the National AIDS Memorial. “As a person living with AIDS, I never thought I would have to live through two pandemics. While very different, there is a thread that pulls through connecting them together, rooted in stigma and discrimination. The Quilt and storytelling efforts can help us learn from the past to positively change the future.”

Through this unique storytelling initiative, the memorial features stories every week showing the intimate human experience of AIDS during the 40 years of the pandemic. The first 21 features have been selected from the memorial’s own storytelling programs and from other public sites. These stories testify to the long struggle of AIDS with the aim to educate, to remember, to reflect, and to support the work yet to be done.

—The 2020/40 stories include a moving memory about the panel made in the honor of two lovers lost to AIDS, along with the letters written in support that are part of the Library of Congress Quilt Archive.

—The story of AIDS activist Reggie Williams speaks to the courage of those who raised their voices to call for government responsibility and accountability.

—Stories from survivors, like Marcy Fraser, a nurse in the AIDS ward at the San Francisco General Hospital during the darkest days of the pandemic express the trauma of the early phase of the pandemic.

—Stories about Cleve Jones, the founder of the AIDS Quilt, and Jack Porter, a long-time volunteer, and historian of the National AIDS Memorial Grove, recount the efforts of survivors who dedicated themselves to activism, education, and commemoration.

—Stories of hope highlight current AIDS activism by young people like Antwan Matthews, a recipient of the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship, who organizes HIV education programs within communities of color.

“These stories help connect people in a very personal way to the AIDS pandemic, not just from 40 years ago, but today,” said Josh Gamson, a dean and professor at the University of San Francisco and National AIDS Memorial board member who co-chairs its storytelling programs. “The face of AIDS has changed over time and this effort shows how the history and lessons from the AIDS pandemic are important today, as our country faces another pandemic and is once again torn apart by social injustice, bigotry, and fear.”