CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s first openly gay mayor is celebrating pride month with the ceremonial groundbreaking of the  AIDS Garden Chicago.

City leaders wore a rainbow of colored construction hats as they tossed the dirt at the two acre garden.

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It honors those battling the disease today and pays tribute to the early days in the fight against HIV.

It’s located at Lake Shore Drive and Belmont at an area nicknamed the Belmont Rocks.

The space was a gathering spot for the gay community from the 1960s to the 1990s.

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“I would argue the Belmont Rocks is sacred ground. The place where many of the LGBT community socialized and organized. It is also the place, unfortunately, many scattered the ashes of their loved ones,” said Chicago Ald. Tom Tunney (44th.)

“This spot gave me an affirmance that I could be a happy, fulfilled person with love and loved by others,” said Lightfoot. “So this spot means a lot to me personally.”

The project actually began in 2019 with the installation of a 30-foot sculpture titled “Self-Portrait” by Pop artist Keith Haring.

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The Chicago Parks Foundation also plans to launch the AIDS Garden Story archive, a digital quilt of personal shared experiences.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff