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AIDS Memorial dedication honors man who dedicated much of his life to the cause

aids memorial
Posted at 6:52 PM, Mar 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-20 12:19:54-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Gone but not forgotten.

Dozens braved the cold and snow Saturday morning to honor the lives of those lost to the AIDS epidemic.

The Indiana AIDS Memorial’s new railings were dedicated in honor of Gary "Allen" Whitehead.

Whitehead was a volunteer with the Indianapolis Bag Ladies, an organization that’s raised money for HIV/AIDS efforts for the last 40 years.

But most importantly, Coby Palmer says Whitehead was a friend.

“Allen was full of life. He was always there. The bag ladies always put on shows, drag shows. We do the AIDS walk, we’ve done the garage parties and Allen was always there. There was never a time that Allen didn’t help out," Palmer, the Founder of the Indianapolis Bag Ladies, said.

A series of limestone tablets, carved with the names of those no longer with us, stand proudly among the graves in Crown Hill National Cemetery.

For Palmer, the names represent the many loved one he’s lost.

“The names on that memorial are friends. In the very beginning, the gay community was your family because you could not be gay. You all got together and became family," Palmer said.

The Indiana AIDS Memorial was originally dedicated in 2000 and was the nation's first permanent AIDS memorial in a cemetery. It was only the second in the country.

Stephen Everett with the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis says although HIV/AIDS is no longer considered a death sentence, there’s still a lot more work to be done in ending the epidemic.

“It’s very important to help people understand that we don’t have a cure for HIV. This is a wonderful monument to remind us that we can’t forget those we’ve lost, those that are currently living with HIV and there are many," Everett said.

Everett encourages you to get involved in their advocacy efforts.

“They can make a donation, they can learn more information, they can get involved, they can volunteer not only for us but for the many other organizations we support all across the state of Indiana," he said.

For more information, clickhere.