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Ed Koch: 12 Years as Mayor, A Lifetime in the Closet

Ed Koch with his former Miss America Bess Myerson, his constant "companion" during his first race for mayor. | MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK

Ed Koch with former Miss America Bess Myerson, his constant “companion” during his first race for mayor. | MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK

BY ANDY HUMM | Ed Koch, New York’s mayor from 1978 through 1989, a period of enormous change for the LGBT movement, including the beginning and some of the worst years of the AIDS crisis, died on February 1 of congestive heart failure.

He was 88 years old and died without ever publicly acknowledging his homosexuality. And his inaction during the crucial early years of the AIDS pandemic –– which emerged in 1981 on his watch –– has never been forgiven by large numbers of gay men and others who lost so many loved ones and friends to the virus.

His life and record as a public official have been reported in great detail in the wake of his death, and he has drawn praise from many –– including some former enemies –– for embodying and even “saving” his city, but his record on LGBT issues, which was mixed, and his response to AIDS, which was deplorable, has received notably short shrift.

While some in the gay community, including his friend Charles Kaiser, a journalist and author, have offered a defense of Koch’s silence on his sexual orientation, the verdict among many, many AIDS activists on the former mayor’s record on addressing the epidemic has been decisive and harsh.

“Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead,” wrote Larry Kramer, the co-founder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP, in an email. “He was not kind to us.”

The 2011 Tony Award-winning revival of Kramer’s 1985 “The Normal Heart” about the terrifying early days of the AIDS crisis reminded a new generation about Koch’s miserable record on the epidemic.

Kramer recently wrote, “What is this evil man up to as he approaches his death? We must never forget that this man was an active participant in helping us to die, in murdering us. Call it what you will, that is what Edward Koch was, a murderer of his very own people. There is no way to avoid knowing that now. The facts have long since been there staring us in the face. If we don’t see them, then we are as complicit as he.”

A combative and divisive figure who won three terms as mayor after a career in the New York City Council and the US Congress representing the East Side, Koch began as a pioneering ally of the LGBT community; he was among the earliest vocal supporters of gay rights on the national scene and courted the increasingly assertive lesbian and gay electorate in his winning 1977 mayoral campaign. Three years earlier, he had been one of the initial co-sponsors of the federal gay and lesbian rights bill in Congress, along with his Manhattan Democratic colleague Bella Abzug.

On his first day in office on January 1, 1978, Koch delivered on a campaign promise to issue an executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in municipal employment. He appointed Henry Geldzahler as his commissioner of Cultural Affairs, only the second out gay city commissioner after Bob Livingston, named to the Human Rights Commission by Koch’s predecessor, Abe Beame. And Koch appointed a mayoral liaison to the gay community, Herb Rickman, an out gay man. Perversely, Rickman was also made liaison to the Orthodox Jewish community.

But despite this start, Koch quickly fell into a fractious relationship with LGBT activists, who were then part of a militant grassroots movement that had exploded after Stonewall and not yet drifted into the institutional, top-down politics of today. It soon became evident he was not going to deliver on pledges to use his political muscle to get the city gay rights bill passed, though he did testify for it at hearing after hearing in the City Council.

Allen Roskoff, a Gay Activist Alliance member who came up with the idea of a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1971 –– the first such effort in the nation –– recalled, “In late 1977, when we believed we could have had the bill passed under the lame duck administration of Abe Beame, Ed Koch, through his surrogate John LoCicero, told us that Koch insisted that not happen and he guaranteed passage within the first six months of the Koch administration.

“Koch called a meeting of gay leaders six months later and reneged on his commitment. He decided that any Council member who based their objection to the bill on religious grounds had no personal obligation to him to vote for the bill. He and his administration declared as enemies any gay activist who tried to pressure him and his administration to secure passage of the bill. He belittled leaders of our community with his acid tongue and the bill languished until 1986. Like Roy Cohn, he was a self-serving, closeted homosexual who did a great deal of damage to the gay community and people with AIDS. Unlike Christine Quinn, I do not mourn his death.”

The City Council speaker engineered the recent naming of the Queensborough Bridge for Koch and had his endorsement in her current run for mayor. In her release after his death, Quinn, an out lesbian, made no mention of Koch’s record on LGBT or AIDS issues, but said, “I can remember seeing him on TV when I was a little girl and thinking to myself, ‘If I could ever meet him it would be a dream come true.’ Years later when I was working at the Anti-Violence Project, I was in the midst of a very public battle with City Hall. Mayor Koch called me out of the blue. I had never spoken to him in my life. He told me, ‘You’re doing the right thing. Don’t back down, and call me if I can do anything.’”

ACT UP Koch IS

An ACT UP poster.

Koch and the AIDS Crisis
When the gay community, in 1981, called on Koch to do something about the emergence of what came to be called AIDS, they were stonewalled. It took 21 months for Gay Men’s Health Crisis to get a meeting with the mayor –– a meeting for which Kramer agitated hardest, but from which he was excluded, at the same time being removed from GMHC’s board of directors. At one of the early GMHC AIDS Walks in the late 1980s where Koch spoke, Kramer stood alone at the front of the crowd with a big sign bearing an ugly picture of Koch that read: “Ed Koch: The Worst.”

Koch –– at the epicenter of the crisis –– refused to deal with AIDS as the public health emergency that it was in the same way that Legionnaires’ Disease, for example, had been five years earlier when it struck members of the American Legion attending a convention in a Philadelphia hotel.

To be sure, President Ronald Reagan’s federal response was even worse, and the New York Times, after running one brief story in July 1981, ignored the crisis for more than a year after that.

But Koch was in a position to do something as mayor and, for a variety of reasons, downplayed the crisis and did not do what was needed to inform the public and begin prevention efforts. All of those early efforts had to be spearheaded by the gay community itself at a time when it was barely organized and had few resources. Early efforts at community self-help saved many lives, but the virus –– not identified until late 1983 –– spiraled out of control and resulted in the ongoing worldwide pandemic in which as many as 70 million people have been infected and almost 35 million have died.

Needle exchange for injecting drug users was assiduously resisted by the Koch administration, leading to thousands of unnecessary HIV infections. Even Britain under conservative Maggie Thatcher embraced needle exchange early on and virtually contained that end of the epidemic. And public education commenced there almost immediately, with an informational brochure to every household about what was known.

Hospital overcrowding was so acute in New York in the mid to late ‘80s due to the decommissioning of beds that people with AIDS were often consigned to gurneys in hallways rather than getting the care they needed. Many people with HIV-related illnesses were shunned in city hospitals, their food left at the door by fearful health care workers.

Reid Pillifant wrote on the Capital New York blog, “One of the few peeks into Koch’s psyche comes from a former adviser, who says Koch was very worried someone would interrupt an AIDS forum (hosted by the New York Post, for the record), and accuse him of being gay. After the forum, Koch complains of a headache and suffers a stroke, making for just one of the many crises in his third term,” his final one, which ran from 1986 through ’89.

After his earlier intransigence, Koch eventually responded in 1983 by starting an Office of Gay and Lesbian Health Concerns within the city’s health department. While that unit did good work, it was not the kind of coordinated city response needed to control spread of the disease. AIDS education wasn’t begun in the schools until 1987, and it was minimal. It was not until 1991 under Mayor David Dinkins that the Board of Education adopted mandatory explicit AIDS education with condom availability, an effort on which this reporter was involved as director of education at the Hetrick-Martin Institute.

Bill Dobbs, a veteran of ACT UP, offers a different take on how the lack of any effective official response to the AIDS crisis influenced the course of events in New York.

“Koch’s rotten leadership on AIDS got a lot of gay men mad, the gay rumors added more fuel,” he said. “That anger finally boiled over into a stunning wave of activism that saved lives –– ACT UP/ New York. Ironically, the lack of any openly gay or lesbian politicians back then probably helped the anger get even hotter.”

A 1989 headline.

A 1989 headline.

Koch’s Famous Closet
Ed Koch practically made a religion out of not coming out as homosexual –– which he was. At several key moments in his career he pretended to be heterosexual, especially during his first campaign for mayor when he appeared publicly with former Miss America Bess Myerson and they feigned romantic interest in each other –– to snickering from those who knew him. The play-acting seemed clearly something he felt compelled to do to distract attention from the whispers about his homosexuality. Myerson was rewarded by Koch making her commissioner of Cultural Affairs in his second term.

Older members of the Village Independent Democrats, Koch’s home club that I later joined, would tell me stories about him bringing good-looking young men around whom he would introduce as his “nephews.”

David Rothenberg, now 80 and founder of the Fortune Society (which provides assistance and support to ex-offenders), was appointed to the City Human Rights Commission by Koch. In the 2009 documentary “Outrage,” which probes closeted politicians, Rothenberg recounts his friendship with Koch and Richard Nathan, Koch’s lover in the 1970s. Nathan expected a mayoral appointment after Koch’s 1977 win, but was instead frozen out of the new mayor’s life and New York. He left the city for California, where he later died of AIDS. When confronted about this in the documentary, Koch snarled, “Fuck you” and ended the interview.

Not long before he died of AIDS in 2009 at 61, Dennis deLeon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS, told me that after being appointed by the mayor as senior assistant corporation counsel in the City’s Law Department, he was taken to Koch’s apartment by Herb Rickman. When they arrived, Rickman told de Leon to go see Koch in the bedroom. The mayor was sitting on the bed watching TV and when de Leon sat down, Koch put the moves on him, only to be rejected.

When I asked Koch about this in 2011, he dismissed the story mockingly, saying, “He’s dead!”

In that same interview, I asked Koch to respond to Queens out gay City Councilman Daniel Dromm calling him “a closet case” as he berated him for supporting the congressional candidacy of Republican Robert Turner, who, in Roskoff’s words, “does not support Ed Koch’s right to marry.”

Koch’s reply: “Fuck those guys.”

In an email to Gay City News for that story, the former mayor wrote, “I don’t discuss whether I am heterosexual or homosexual. I simply refuse to legitimatize any questions concerning my sexual orientation. For anyone to respond to the question legitimizes its being asked. So that in the future political organizations could not only ask candidates to state their positions on public issues –– which is legitimate –– but also request an answer to the question ‘Are you straight or gay?’. To allow that to occur would drive many public-spirited citizens from running for office.”

In a 2007 video interview with the New York Times posted online in the hours after his death, Koch said that when asked about his sexuality, “My reaction was to say, ‘It’s none of your fucking business.’ Some who voted for me think I’m gay. Some think I’m straight. And most of them don’t care.”

Andrew Sullivan, responding to Koch’s dictum that “there have to be some matters left private,” wrote, “Of course they do. And I sure don’t want to know about Ed Koch’s sex life, if he had one. But the plain fact of your orientation is not the same as the details of your sex life. And when you are such a public figure and single and your city is grappling with an epic health crisis among gay men, it does become other people’s fucking business –– especially if he was inhibited from a more aggressive response because of not wanting to seem gay.”

In a 1989 radio interview, Koch said, “I happen to believe that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. It’s whatever God made you. It happens that I’m heterosexual, but I don’t care about that. I do care about protecting the rights of 10 percent of our population who are homosexual and who don’t have the ability to protect their rights.”

Larry Kramer is Marilyn Monroe IS

Larry Kramer’s response to Ed Koch.

When Newsday subsequently posted the preposterous declaration on its front page: “KOCH: I’m Heterosexual,” that cover was blown up on posters by ACT UP at its next demonstration against the mayor with the taglines: “And I’m Carmen Miranda!” and “And I’m Marilyn Monroe.” Veteran gay activist John Magisano said his favorite ACT UP chant was, “AIDS funding is ineffectual. Blame Koch, the heterosexual.”

When Koch went to the West Village in 1989 to re-name the street outside the Stonewall bar as Stonewall Place in honor of the 1969 rebellion, he was shouted down and chased away by hundreds of ACT UP members, who held up tombstones with the names of friends and lovers who had died of AIDS.

In Tony Kushner’s 1993 “Angels in America,” the infamous Roy Cohn is admitted to the hospital and the gay nurse Belize calls his friend Prior, saying “The Killer Queen Herself. New York’s number one closeted queer” had just checked in. When Prior responds, “Koch?,” it provided the show’s most explosive laugh. I later asked Koch about that line, and he walked away saying,  “Oh. You’re trying to be funny.”

In Defense of Koch
Koch was not without gay friends and supporters. Charles Kaiser, author of “The Gay Metropolis,” wrote in an email, “As you very well know, there are many politicians who have tried to keep their sexuality a secret who have had terrible records on gay rights issues. Ed Koch does not fit in this category. He actually has the longest pro-gay rights record of any successful New York politician I know of.”

Kaiser cited his early 1960s support for sodomy law repeal, his leadership in Congress, and his push for passage of the city’s gay rights bill, which the author said “was impossible as long as Tom Cuite was the majority leader” of the Council.

“So whatever his failures during the AIDS crisis,” Kaiser continued, “I have never believed that they were a result of his own discomfort with who he was. He does regret never meeting with Larry Kramer, but as you recall, when he finally agreed to meet with GMHC representatives, it was Larry’s GMHC colleagues who refused to let Larry attend the meeting.

“Koch said this to me about Kramer for ‘The Gay Metropolis’: ‘I inquired and I was told that he had made a request for a meeting…. I was told he was not held in high regard because of his vehemence and I should just ignore it. I’m sorry I took their advice, frankly. He is a very important force in the AIDS movement…. He has caused people to give this matter a lot of attention.’

“None of this diminishes the truth of what Ethan Geto says in the new Koch documentary: it would have been a magnificent thing if Koch had come out of the closet at the height of the crisis. And I think there is no question that the city administration of San Francisco did a much better job, much earlier, than New York did, of taking care of its AIDS patients.

“On the other hand, I do not believe that Koch could have said anything that would have made more people practice safe sex sooner. As I wrote in TGM: ‘…considering the degree of hostility that gay leaders encountered when they tried to make these points [about the need for safe sex practices], it’s unlikely that anything Koch could have said would have done much to influence the behavior of gay men. Dan William, a prominent gay New York doctor, was denounced as a ‘monogamist… stirring panic’ just for suggesting that bathhouses should be required to post warning signs about the epidemic and the dangers of promiscuous sex.’

“In 1982, according to Randy Shilts, ‘More gays were furious’ at William ‘than at anybody in the Koch administration.’ And when Koch finally did shut down the bathhouses, I think it did have useful shock value. In retrospect, he probably should have done it sooner –– but if he had, he would have been attacked even more vehemently than Dan William was.”

Some of what Kaiser wrote is disputed by Kramer in a 1998 New York magazine interview: “I was introduced to Koch at a party in 1982, specifically to talk about what was happening. And the minute he knew what I wanted to talk about, I was pulled away by police. He was a closeted gay man, and he did not want in any way to be associated with this.”

Koch and Kramer lived in the same building at 2 Fifth Avenue at Washington Square. Kramer was known to curse at Koch when he saw him for his inaction on AIDS and was eventually ordered by the co-op board to stop. When Kramer next saw Koch, Kramer was walking his dog and said to her, “Molly, that’s the man who killed all of Daddy’s friends.”

AIDS activist Walter Armstrong, deputy editor of TheFix.com and former editor of POZ magazine, wrote in an email, “During a Queer Nation demo in the early ‘90s, we were in front of [Koch’s] building and who should appear, stepping out of a black limo with bodyguards but Ed Koch, mere yards away from us. We encircled him and yelled murderer, etc., as he and his protectors hastened across the avenue. We pursued him into the lobby of the building, but he had already vanished in the elevator.”

A Political Evolution
Edward Irving Koch was born on December 12, 1924 in the Bronx and raised in Newark. A decorated World War II serviceman, he attended City College after his discharge and then NYU Law School. Working as a lawyer, he got involved in politics as a founder of the reform-minded Village Independent Democrats, defeating Tammany Hall boss Carmine DeSapio for the post of district leader in 1963.

Koch lost a campaign for the State Assembly, running on what he called the “S.A.D. platform” of sodomy law repeal, abortion rights, and divorce reform. He was elected to the City Council in 1967, but moved on to represent the Silk Stocking district in the US House in 1969.

In 1977, Koch ran for mayor in a crowded Democratic primary that included incumbent Mayor Abe Beame. Though Bella Abzug was initially seen as the frontrunner, no candidate got the necessary 40 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff for the nomination. The two top vote-getters –– with about 20 percent each –– were Koch and Mario Cuomo. It was in that runoff that a heavy-handed, homophobic campaign was launched with signs along Queens Boulevard that read: “Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo.”

It was never proven who was behind the anti-gay campaign. Koch blamed the Cuomo campaign, and rumors circulated for decades that now-Governor Andrew Cuomo, his father’s 19-year-old aide-de-camp at the time, was involved.

In the 2007 Times video interview just released, Koch said, “It was shocking. I called Mario a weekend or two before the election. And I said, ‘Mario, this is happening.’ He said he didn’t know about it. I said, ‘Mario, you’ve got to do something.’ He said, ‘I’ll try. I’ll do.’ I don’t believe he did anything. That matter has affected our relationship from ’77 through this year. We get along. We got along as mayor and governor. But I always held it against him. I also held it against his son, Andy Cuomo. Even though social relationships when we meet in public are good, underneath he knows, I know, what I’m really thinking.  ‘You [bleep].’” (It was the Times that bleeped the word; others, better than I at lip-reading, have reported the word used was “prick.”)

Even though Abzug was seen as the favorite among LGBT voters, Koch did not cede the constituency. He met with a group of activists at a time when few politicians openly courted gay votes and gained their endorsement when he pledged full support for the city’s gay rights bill, telling the group, “Any mayor who can’t get that bill passed in six months isn’t worth his salt.” Koch later said that the promise was “naïve” on his part. Despite his testimony on its behalf at repeated raucous Council hearings, the measure did not pass until nine years later, in 1986.

When in June 1977, Miami voters approved a referendum repealing their gay rights law, Koch showed up at a massive protest in the Village to condemn the vote, but could barely be heard amidst cries of “straights out of the Village!” I was impressed with Koch going into the vortex of that evening’s action and ended up voting for him, never to do so again as he shifted to the right, made excuses for those who opposed gay rights, and became one of the most racially divisive leaders in the city’s history. (Harlem’s Amsterdam News ran a front-page editorial every week for years headlined “Koch Must Resign.”)

By the time Koch ran for governor in 1982, he was seen as the conservative and Mario Cuomo the liberal. Cuomo was endorsed by Koch’s home club, the Village Independent Democrats. Andrew Berman, head of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, wrote on the group’s blog, “the endorsement battle was so bitter that disaffected club members who supported Koch split off from VID to form their own new club, the Village Reform Democratic Club.” Berman also noted that when Deborah Glick, a Koch critic later elected to the State Assembly, became president of the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, the club’s pro-Koch faction defected and formed the Stonewall Democratic Club.

In 1985, Koch supplemented his nondiscrimination policy in city hiring with an executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by city contractors. But when Cardinal John O’Connor, New York’s Catholic archbishop, speaking at a press conference with Koch on another matter, said he would go to court rather than allow homosexuals to work with children in their social programs –– a scandalously inflammatory statement –– Koch blinked and agreed church officials should test the order in court. It was overturned.

Koch went on to form a close relationship with O’Connor, the  city’s most visible anti-gay activist, writing a book together, “His Eminence and Hizzoner.”

So, while we are hearing a lot from New Yorkers who mourn a man they saw as a feisty, colorful leader who turned the city around, there are many LGBT people who remember a powerful elected official whose lack of leadership at the time of the community’s direst need turned our lives upside down — and contributed mightily to the deaths of thousands, if not many more.

83 Responses to Ed Koch: 12 Years as Mayor, A Lifetime in the Closet

  1. albert February 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    So very respectful of you. I hate to break it to you, but there are more important things than a person's sexual preference. And if he didn't want us to know, who are you to print this? He's not even room temperature yet. You're a selfish prick.

    Reply
    • Perley J. Thibodeau February 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      "Not even room temperature yet?" You say?
      If he was as proud of being Jewish, as he has proclaimed in white marble stone all over the local landscape, then he was interred before sundown last Friday afternoon the day he died, according to Hebrew Custom.
      We'll see tomorrow if a casket containing the earthly remains is openly displayed at Temple for the then upcoming political photo op that is now being carefully planned.

      Reply
    • Jimtoday February 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      Wow, such rage from someone who not only never suffered from, but probably never considered the deadly, benign neglect of an elected leader on his fellow citizens. This is how we hold leaders responsible? Sad.

      Reply
    • paulg February 4, 2013 at 9:40 pm

      dear albert, maybe he was gay, maybe not. he certainly had a number of reversals around gay issues, and for a progressive politician, his response to AIDS was very cool. So, it does beg the question of whether gay self-hatred influenced his policies. Blame for the self-hatred could be placed with society, as the Cuomo campaign's dirty politics shows. But seeing as Koch's legacy is now being discussed, it seems that discussing these matters is important. By the way, when you cite someone (i.e. "You…. prick" Koch), than you should indicate that.

      Reply
    • Anonymous February 6, 2013 at 10:06 am

      Hey Albert. If a Jew stood by the gates of Dachau during the holocaust and asked every Jew that entered "How'm I doin'" how do you think Jews would feel about the guy?

      Koch did everything he could to run away from the AIDS crisis, proclaiming himself heterosexual."what? Me? One of them?"?

      Reply
    • Preston M. September 23, 2014 at 1:37 am

      I totally agree with you! His sexual preferences were none of anybody's business period!

      Reply
  2. norman yelin February 3, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    He was a great New Yorker. Get over it.

    Reply
    • David Ehrenstein February 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      He was a piece of shit. Get over it.

      Reply
    • paulg February 4, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      Maybe he was great because he so well expressed the times, part of which was a very tortured realization that we had to deal with sexual and racial difference in a meaningful way before being able to "get over it." What is wrong with looking at the past and seeing that errors were made that cost many their lives. And the writer of the article does state that maybe in the early 80s a more aggressive policy would have fallen on deaf ears. So, there is some balance in this article

      Reply
  3. Perley J. Thibodeau February 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    The biggest villain we face now is our own enemy jealousy that comes from within.
    Querulous or not, Larry Kramer should be emulated for all the courageous deeds that he has performed for better conditions among those who are a part of the world's so called Gay Community.
    I'm sure most everyone would agree that Mr. Kramer is a very beautiful and caring person!
    I'll always remember, ' "The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me."
    Very graciously; on the back of my extended right hand.

    Reply
    • Doug Robinson February 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      Agreed!

      Reply
  4. gilbert baker February 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for the detailed history Andy !
    So much to remember…

    Reply
  5. Bob February 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Social conservatism is a very terrible belief. Social conservatism causes great harm to a child's psychological development and costs individuals, families and societies dearly!!

    Reply
    • Brawny71 February 4, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Every time I've ever seen the term, "social conservatism", it has been as a polite term for bigotry.

      Reply
  6. John Graham February 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Balanced and quite thought-provoking – so it seems from a reader with no preconceptions, having known none of the involved or living in NYC

    Reply
  7. Guest February 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    He seems to have been more asexual than anything else. And blaming him for not stopping the aids epidemic is stupid. People have to take responsibility for their own actions and like other STD epidemics before and since, prevention cannot be imposed by authorities, but must instead be the result of each individual's adoption of abstinence or safe practices.

    Reply
    • guest May 29, 2014 at 9:51 am

      No one was asking him to stop anything.. However, as a public servant it was his job to ensure the safety of the public, gay and straight. He failed in this endeavor. The fact that he was gay just makes you think that he must have had some serious issues to have stood back and done nothing.

      Reply
    • Richard August 25, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      He's not being blamed for the AIDS epidemic! He is blamed for his lack of attention to the research and education that was latent under his leadership! The conditions and treatment of AIDS patients in hospitals were awful. The fact that you think it's merely a lack of responsibility is ignorance on your part in your narrow minded view of how AIDS was spread and ignored for far too long! We are human and imperfect, but we all have the ability to have compassion, and that is also human if you're brave enough to admit you too are susceptible to any new illness. Unfortunately, it will only take a threat to your own health that will teach you how to be compassionate and human too. We are in this world together, let's work together to help each other and not ignore the needs of others even if it prevents us from looking bad to others.

      Reply
  8. John Crittenden February 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Beautifully written and comprehensive, as only Andy Humm could do. Not mean-spirited, just warts and all accuracy. No agenda but the truth, which always shatters the illusions of those who believe carefully crafted public images and always irritates those who are deeply invested insiders. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  9. Donny Moss February 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Koch is a great example of how dangerous the closet is. If he had been out, then he would probably have ensured that the tens of thousands of young people who were infected had access to social services and medical care and that New Yorkers received prevention education when the routes of transmission were understood.

    Reply
  10. Mike Conway February 3, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    The Chief Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El who's known Koch was forty years, said while Ed "was not religiously Jewish, he was a man of faith."

    Reply
    • David Ehrenstein February 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      So what?

      Reply
    • Stuart Baanstra February 7, 2013 at 12:14 am

      "Faith"? What's that, except a god that condemns homosexuality? Even where Christianity attempts to right a wrong, if there truly be a god, how could he ever have said that men not do it with each other in the first place?

      Reply
    • Ralpf February 11, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      There is nothing more common and loathsome than posthumous conversions affected by the clergy seeking to appropriate souls for the coffers.

      Reply
  11. Bernard Lynch February 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    We can never be part of the freedom of those we seek to lead if are not free enough to be honest about who we are. Well done Andy Humm. Father Bernard Lynch, London, England. Founder of AIDS Ministry Dignity New York.

    Reply
  12. Jules Margalit February 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Ed Koch was a prick who couldn't help himself. He was racist,anti union and working class,narcissist,attention getting ass hole and even in death he is getting too much attention. He was a divider and not a uniter. His way of dealing with critics was to interrupt them,walk away from them or curse them. He was loud mouthed attention getting megalo maniac who convinced people he did good through his charisma. He didn't change NY and in fact caused the homeless crisis by courting powerful real estate industry in NY. Let's not forget Sydenham hospital,Yusef Hawkins, Eleanore Bumpers, anti teacher rants, anti black rants.

    Reply
    • David Ehrenstein February 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Precisely!

      Reply
    • Eleanora February 4, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      Not true. Koch was not a racist, do you honestly think that Al Sharpton would have befriended him if he were? You may not have liked him or his politics but come on, be fair.

      Reply
  13. Jay February 3, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I am curious on what this meant for those who affected by HIV/AIDS. Looking at some articles from the 1980's, it does seem that the city spent a lot of money on services for people with AIDS- including intensive case management, expedited supplemental income, permanent housing, etc. and eventually improvements to medical care. I saw the 1985 budget listed at $120 million. I don't know how this compares to other cities.

    While I understand that his personal issues may have prevented him from taking leadership in prevention (which from the article above may not have been politically difficult in any case and possibly ineffectual) and national advocacy – (which the Mayor of the city with the highest AIDS diagnosis should have been active in), how would a full analysis judge him on how he responded to those with AIDS who needed the services?

    Reply
  14. Joan Wile February 3, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I fought against Koch's second and third terms, believing him to be responsible for turning the City over to the real estate industry — he gave them all huge tax exemptions. I think that hastened the escalation of Manhattan, in particular, to a place with very little middle income housing resulting in it's becoming a residence only for the uber rich. However, I don't think it serves any purpose now to out him, if indeed he was gay, or to condemn him for hiding the fact . At the time, it would have been a very risky thing for him to do (it IS valuable, however, to know how he failed the gay community in its time of dire need). I would like to see more illuminating reportage in the Times and elsewhere about the role he played in destroying the City.

    Reply
    • perrybrass February 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      I totally agree with Joan Wile about this assessment of Ed Koch—but the real question is, at what stage did New York politics devolve to the point that you cannot gain the kind of power the Mayor has without the real estate industry? Did this happen after the unions were eviscerated? Did it happen after so many of the coalitions that opposed the Viet Nam War, that banded together for progressivism, also sold out to things like the City University system? Koch became one of the kind of bare-knuckles political professionals who used to run NY; I don't think he started that way. I remember, back in the late 1960s when he was a smart, thinking liberal and young people like myself looked up to him. So what did happen? Perry Brass

      Reply
      • Ralpf February 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm

        Did you notice in the documentary, and in his obit interview, EIK goes to pains to describe how he was always "centrist" (read conservative) Democrat, a "Scoop Jackson Democrat." But, in the 1960s Ed was a Liberal and was in forefront of the impeach Nixon Watergate clamor. What happened? Joan K. Davidson (producer of said Doc.) and others of the Liberal Party Faith all became subducted by Lew Rudin as NY became insolvent and cash became a sought after election winning commodity. Bernie Mendik too was in there with his wallet.

        Reply
    • Ralpf February 11, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      Joan, you are correct. To be specific, Koch was "owned" by the Rudin family, who provided him with his "rent stabilized abode" at sweetheart unchallenged rates at 2 Fifth Avenue. Lew was at the same time the head of "association for a better new york – ABNY" and the president of the Real Estate Board of New York. Nuff said.
      The putrid tendrils of those connection are most recently manifest in the removal of our only medical facility in place of tah dah . . . another over-security ridden condo gated community – owned by, surprise – the Rudin family.

      Reply
  15. John Magisano February 3, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    In the letter circulated by Speaker Quinn, she quoted him as saying, "I don't want to leave Manhattan, it's my home." But for poor people he said "they have 4 other boroughs to choose from. They don't have to live in Manhattan."

    Reply
  16. Perley J. Thibodeau February 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    I'd say that his being a non observant Jew is evident in the fact that he not only designed and placed his tombstone on a grave site a few years before his death, instead of having it placed with an unveiling ceremony at the one year anniversary of his death and burial.
    There have been so many ancient traditions broken in the fact that he also told people that he bought a cemetery lot in a non denominational cemetery so that he could be buried in Manhattan.
    He then said that way people could bring flowers and visit him there. No small stone left behind, as is the custom of remembrance to show that the visitors cared enough to go out of their way to pay their respects?
    Also, the gate of which was changed to read The Jewish Gate all with the noted approval of his friend who is a Rabbi.
    Whether he was buried before sundown on the day of his death is questionable, as a news paper did show a picture of a grave digger preparing the hole in the ground on Friday in front of the white marble headstone that would dwarf the size of the Wailing Wall.
    All this leads me to wonder if he is really dead, or is at home enjoying all the attention.

    Reply
    • Ralpf February 11, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      Perley you are a tedious bore. And a jackass who knows far less about NY politics and our backgrounds than you would like to lend people to believe as you peddle your two bit mysteries. Go back to Maine.

      Reply
  17. Perley J. Thibodeau February 3, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Of course, that leads to yet another set of questions to enter my enquiring mind.
    Will the services at the Synagogue be open to the public or strictly a by invitation only ceremony?
    Will the attendees be purchasing tickets to the event, as I know from past experience seats are sold for Yiska, Prayers For The Dead as a part of the Yom Kippur Services in the fall?
    Will it be open only to relatives, friends and business associates of his, and exclude members of the political candidates who would use God's House of Worship as a means to get free publicity for their council candidacies?
    If so, it would be safe to say that the money changers will be back in the Temple.
    But, of course that's a different religion entirely.
    This leads me to conclude that Koch was Jewish like a soon to be mother is slightly pregnant.

    Reply
    • George Plagianos February 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

      The money changers, wheelers & dealers will be there in full force. Developers and rich landlords will be thanking Koch for their fortuneby turning a deft ear when homeless advocates & many others like myself were screeming at Koch in the late 80's "Put a mortitoium now!, Stop the demolition these single room occupys aka: SRO's. PWa's live there too not only on condo's. While running my Act Up Video cam.I yelled at Koch saying "Release those warehoused SROs"Oh Pharod The slumlords had sealed up when a tetant died or moved out hence making them hopeless & homeless. All this while Andy Humm while he interevewed him on Christopher St..Strangely Andy never asked me what the grip was all about.. I wondered if he knew what was happening to these SROs. The slumlords ran these horriable but affortable rooms for the poor to the ground, vulture like developers snatched them up for pennies to the dollars soon after our fair city condemed about 90'% of them. I can still our Honorable count Dracula Koch saying on tv, after 90% were comed "I think we Should call for a moritotium to save whats left" Koch looooved the homeless poor so much he made more of them.

      Reply
    • Stuart Baanstra February 6, 2013 at 1:06 am

      Perley, is the synagogue in question a progressive synagogue? You know, the one where gay Jewish people dance around with a bible, even kissing it, when it describes them as an abomination.

      Reply
      • Ralpf February 11, 2013 at 10:32 pm

        It's always interesting that Perley leads the Anti-Semetic Caucus without even trying. But, misses the whole point, which is that the very core of the tenants rights movement here in NYC was Jewish (Village) and African American (Harlem) led. You axxholes don't even know the names of the leaders of that movement or how it came up under Mayor LaGuardia, but their names were Duncan Phillips and Heinz Norden and they made a huge impact. Lew Rudin's dad was part of a cabal that went after both of them as "Communists" during WWII. That was totally false, but during the McCarthy years it made little difference. There is so much history you do not know that politically correct Jew bashing reflex is obviously what feels good for you. ESAD. Have a nice day.

        Reply
  18. Stuart Baanstra February 4, 2013 at 2:02 am

    "New York's number one closeted queer"? Many of us may we'll be out of our closets, but that doesn't stop us turning a blind eye when our multitude of "straight", married, heteronormative lovers stay in theirs.

    Reply
  19. George Plagianos February 4, 2013 at 10:02 am

    And we so called progressives & liberal only blamed Rudy Guliania for making the homeless worse. Koch help blow them out of these SRO (single room occupancy) when his corrupt building departments inpectors comdemed them so developers could snatch them up in one hand and while inthe other hand hand Koch his reelection. Same as Bloomberg. At temple Emanual? Honoring for his crimes againist humantity, the poor tenant, the PWA just to mention a few, it's like St Patricks honoring a mobster because he gave them $ so he deserves a high church funeral.

    Reply
    • Ralpf February 11, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      Koch at least endorsed and empowered Tony Gliedman's initiative to reclaim city in REM housing for the homeless and public housing. But Anti-Semite idiots like yourself wouldn't happen to even know about that. And Bloomberg, by the way has been supportive of that same initiative. Not to say they were without blame but compared to dirtbag Rudy? No comparison.

      Reply
  20. David Thorstad February 4, 2013 at 10:58 am

    The truth is that in the final days of the Beame administration, an attempt was made by insider gays to persuade Beame to issue an executive order banning discrimination against homosexuals as a way of taking the heat off the incoming Koch administration, so it wouldn't have to deal with it. A secret meeting was held at Ethan Geto's apartment, with Koch aide John LeCicero to which only a handful of mostly pro-Democrat gays were invited. I was a spokesman of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights and, as a radical, was not invited–but another invitee asked me to come. I did, and also invited Seth Lawrence of the Gay Activists Alliance. We argued against sneaking through such a measure on grounds that it would look like a backroom deal and not like a true gain of the gay movement. Our opposition killed that undemocratic maneuver. When National Gay Task Force activist Jean O'Leary spotted me, she snarled, according to the activist who invited me: "How did HE get in?!" A few days later, at Koch's inauguration, Seth and GAA activists could be heard off camera loudly demanding that Koch get a gay rights bill passed. This embarrassed the establishment gays who were sharing the stage at City Hall.
    Another Koch act that I have never forgotten was the time he had a black panhandler arrested in Washington Square Park for asking him for twenty-five cents.

    Reply
    • @OutFM February 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      That's a very interesting anecdote — I can see both sides of the argument.

      How long after that meeting did it take before a gay rights bill was passed? Presumably the LGBT people who suffered during that time (between your meeting and when a bill was passed) might have cared less about the details of HOW the bill was passed and by whom.

      Then again, perhaps your blocking the executive order kept the liberationist wing of the gay movement going a little bit longer, which certainly was a good thing for LGBT people.

      Reply
  21. perrybrass February 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Koch is rally a fascinating character and I think you have to understand politicians and their personalities to get closer to him—his story reminds me of my first year or so in NY—I was a 19-year-old kid from Savannah, GA—1966, and I found NY to be a place of constant ethnic and class resentments. There was still the fall out from Wagner's closing of the gay bars for the 1964 NY World's Fair, and I encountered on a daily basis a level of loathing and violence towards gays that shocked me. I had worked in an aircraft factory in Hartford before moving to the city, and was never harassed or bothered. My first job here was working in an advertising art studio as a messenger, and I was threatened, called "faggot" all the time, and had to protect myself. I had lived in San Francisco previously, where being gay was more commonly accepted; here in NY it was dog-eat-dog, and a lot of the dogs eating each other were other queers. So I can understand Koch; I didn't like him as a mayor, but can understand him. Perry Brass

    Reply
  22. Perley J. Thibodeau February 4, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    It's all over now.
    Let God Himself be the Judge!

    Reply
    • Ralpf February 11, 2013 at 10:36 pm

      Perley, you are tedious.

      Reply
  23. Perley J. Thibodeau February 4, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    In the meantime Giuliani had a big smile on his face sitting in Schul beside Bloomberg.
    It was obvious he enjoyed being there.
    His day will come for the way crime statistics were suppressed, and the way his appointed Guardian Angels helped to put innocent men in the Ramble into handcuffs behind their backs, all the while they and many members of the force were doing the same things they were accusing the guys of.
    These then young men still bear the police records of their illegal entrapment arrests.
    As I'm telling in my still being written true experience book about my bringing a halt to all these guerilla activities by personally volunteering my time to the police instead.

    Reply
  24. Pingback: Mayor Ed Koch “outed”. | Adam from Norway

  25. Chris T. February 4, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    This is probably the best Koch obit out there. Thanks for the comprehensive review of his actual record (especially for those of us who weren't around while he actually wielded power).

    Combined with Duncan Osbourne's piece analyzing the Koch admin's internal memos, your coverage on Koch and the AIDS crisis has been truly outstanding. This feels like not the first, but the second or third draft of history. Thank you!

    Reply
  26. David Thorstad February 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I misspoke in my earlier post, and apologize for any confusion. The effort by some insider gays in the waning days of the Beame administration was not to persuade him to issue an executive order, but rather to try to slip passage of the gay rights bill through the lame-duck city council with the votes of some lame ducks who would be willing to vote for the bill because they wouldn't be back in the new council to face the music. I should have checked my journal from the time before misstating the motivation. Thanks to Andy Humm for jogging my memory on this. As I recall, the effort was abandoned because LoCicero could tell that the gay groups were not unanimous in backing the maneuver.

    Reply
  27. Pingback: Koch Administration Memos Detail Foot-Dragging on AIDS | gaycitynews.com

  28. Pingback: Outing the NYT Ed Koch Obit « The NLGJA Blog

  29. Pingback: Ed Koch and the Corruption of the Gay Closet | Daily Queer News

  30. mat jones February 5, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Like NYC wasn't already dealing with epic deindustrialization, outer boroughs that looked as bombed out as London during the War, street after street in Manhattan full of rows of abandoned buildings, massive unemployment, street unsafe to walk on during the day (let alone at night), unions striking all over, and the very real possibility the NYC might never recover – not only fiscally, but more importantly, the spirit and heart of the city. Their is no doubt – none whatsoever – that Dinkens, Giuliani, and Bloomberg all rebuilt NYC as the major city it is in the world today on the bedrock that Koch revived from near death in the 70's/80's. So I'm sure we're all really sorry if your special interest group didn't get quite a fast enough reaction in the way you wanted, but as gays make up 10%(+/-) of the entire population, there was only the other 90% of the population's issues and lives to think about – their well being, their safety, their jobs, their health care, their children's concerns, etc. Smearing a man who basically did so much good for so long for so many just because he didn't pay as much or fast enough attention to your issues as you would have liked is crappy. Tell me – how many gay men at the time continued to ride bareback after knowing the possible ensuing death sentence, but didn't give a sh*t and spread the disease far wider and far faster than it would have been, Koch or no Koch? Are you going to smear those gay men for 'not doing enough fast enough'?

    Reply
    • Roger Broome February 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      The article is not attempting to cover all aspects of Koch's term, just a focus on his record with gays. That said, I think that your portrait him as the sole savior of NYC is a wee bit simplistic. And you don't need to marginalize the gay population and turn this into an us vs. them situation. It's not like Koch was unable to get around to dealing appropriately with AIDS because he had his hands full with other crises. He made decisions on how to act and now he is being evaluated on his record.

      Reply
      • mat jones February 5, 2013 at 11:10 pm

        Bullshit. This a total and complete smear campaign that is attempting to suggest that this single aspect of Koch's three terms as mayor is the single thing that he should be judged by. In addition, the article itself admits at the very beginning that "…His life and record as a public official have been reported in great detail in the wake of his death, and he has drawn praise from many –– including some former enemies –– for embodying and even saving his city…" and further to point, in his eulogy, Bloomberg himself stated unequivocally that he, Giuliani, and Dinkins were able to rebuild NYC to its current status 'on the bedrock that Ed Koch created.' And I don't need to marginalize the gay population because it IS marginal. Any part of the population that is roughly 10% (as opposed to the other roughly 90%) is exactly that whether they like it or not. Your ignorance is astounding. And again – to point – Tell me – how many gay men at the time continued to ride bareback after knowing the possible ensuing death sentence, but didn't give a sh*t and spread the disease far wider and far faster than it would have been, Koch or no Koch? Are you going to smear those gay men for 'not doing enough fast enough'?

        Reply
        • Roger Broome February 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm

          Just out of curiosity: Do you identify yourself as being gay? If not, why are you getting so worked up about gay men and their sexual behavior? The passion in your comments seems to indicate an obsession with this topic and the hostility to the "marginal" gay population (p.s. 10% is statistically not marginal) would suggest that you might be struggling with some sexual identity issues.

          Reply
    • Stuart Baanstra February 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      Mat, "gays make up 10% of the population"? Don't you think that's a bit ambitious? Then again, if you include homophobes, making up well in excess of the figure you quote, you might find the sky's the limit as to the real level of same-sex attraction!

      Reply
  31. David Thorstad February 5, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I'd like to share (with his approval) a comment on Koch from a friend who is a former Black Panther:

    I was out driving cab, Columbus ave, upper 80's, late Sunday morning. Koch in his usual narcissistic post-brunch, satiety was bopping down the quiet street, a couple of dour bodyguards in tow.

    I was on a pay phone rapping with my girlfriend.

    "You got anything to tell your Mayor?"

    "Tell him to go fuck himself". Without missing a beat. she thought I was bullshitting.

    "Go fuck yourself!" I shouted. I looked him dead in the eye.

    It was Ed's turn to not miss a beat. "Fuck You!"

    "With your cutbacks, your racism, your cops you already have." I answered. Wearily watching at his two beefy NYPD Body guards, Motherfucker looks me in the eye, cracks a delighted big smile,

    "That's Right!" he kept grinning that old shit eating smile, got in his limo and sped off…

    Ed Koch America's scumbag.

    Reply
  32. Shelley Ettinger February 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Koch had some sort of speaking engagement in the Village in the mid-80s and a bunch of us went with signs against him. I interrupted his talk, shouting a whole little speech about his crimes and negligence and how he was killing people and challenging him to start doing the right thing. After I was done, he gave a nasty condescending little smile and shake of his head and said, "Well she's upset, I understand, it's very sad that her friends have died," and then simply proceeded to ignore everything I'd said and return to his speech on some other topic. He was heckled throughout the remainder of the evening but steadfastly refused to address the AIDS crisis. While of course I always despised him, for his inaction on AIDS and oh so much more, above all his despicable racism and many crimes against the Black community, personally I've also never forgotten his arrogance, sexist condescension and coldness in response to my direct challenge to him at this event in the 80s.
    –Shelley Ettinger

    Reply
  33. Perley J. Thibodeau February 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    "I am the Lord thy God, THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME."
    Both Koch and Bloomberg have busted Hell out of that one!.

    Reply
  34. Roger Broome February 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    This is an excellent report, much more nuanced and complex a portrait than most of the puff pieces that are trying to capitalize on a sense of nostalgia for times past. It is also a cautionary tale about an inability to express a true sense of self. Koch's lack of connection between his public image and his internal needs made it impossible for him to respond to the AIDS crisis responsibly and humanely. Ironically, he will be forever saddled with the shadow of this failure and his image is now inextricably linked to the archetype of the closet case.

    Thanks Andy.

    Reply
  35. Perley J. Thibodeau February 5, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Bloomberg's allowing sitting Shiva after a Christian Burial is a slap in the face to both God and Judaism.

    Reply
  36. Pingback: Under Cover, Week of Feb. 6, 2013 | DOWNTOWN EXPRESS

  37. Richard Deagle February 6, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Thanks, Andy!
    What no one has remembered about Koch is that he chose Steven Joseph as health comissioner, in his third term. Joseph's solution to the growing AIDS crisis in NYC was to re-jigger the case numbers, thereby cuting the problem in half overnight. (To quote the late Ortez Alderson " I've got more sick friends than that")
    So Joseph took the heat while Koch played hetero, and no one at a high level of government took care of AIDS.

    Thanks also for resurecting My How'm I doin' poster. It was the first of several designed to go illegally in the subway ad slots, the second being Steven Joseph, Deadlier than the virus.

    Richard Deagle

    Reply
  38. Nanette February 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Thanks for writing this, Andy. It's good to see that you recall and remind us of the person Koch really was instead of the sainted hero who is now being enshrined by so many.

    Reply
  39. Stuart Baanstra February 6, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    For all his lies and closetedness, doesn't Koch symbolise mainstream western culture and its "acceptance" of homosexuality, an acceptance that relishes in heterosexuality's dominance and superiority, while relegating same-sex attraction to a minority status.

    Reply
  40. Pingback: Ed Koch: A Deceased Neoliberal! | অর্থই অনর্থের মূল।

  41. Jos. A. Mustich February 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks Andy.
    Cheers, Joe Mustich, Washington, Connecticut
    Former UWSider and ACT Up member……

    In a time of deceit telling the truth is revolutionary. George Orwell

    Reply
  42. jadez February 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    there is no other reason for man to exist except that he look after and take care of every other man.

    THAT is what made koch a failure.

    and just because it also applies to the vast majority of other people does not invalidate it.

    Reply
  43. Stuart Baanstra February 9, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Then again, being "out" isn't necessarily much better. Just look at Scott Wiener!

    Reply
  44. Ralpf February 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    So, the question is, "Who Did Really Make a Difference In Bringing the AIDS Crisis in NY to a better Place?"

    And the answer is, for no want of their trying, or anger, not Mr. Kramer, or any of the above.

    It was the widow of a NY real estate mogul by the name of Aaron Diamond. A small in stature but big in soul spitfire by the name of Irene Lee who married Aaron when he hadn't a dime. But, he made a billion and they determined to spend it on good when they were alive, and when he died unexpectedly Irene formed the Aaron Diamond Foundation which spent all that money on finding treatments for AIDS and the NY Philharmonic (a subtle but related pursuit).

    The thought Lew Rudin was a fool, by the way. They also though Ed Koch was a complete jack ass. Bernie Mendik was a distant, very distant, friend of theirs, but Marc Blitzstein was a very close friend as was David Diamond, Paul Robeson, Hal Wallis, Joe Papp, Sam & Helen Rosen, and about fifty other great New Yorkers most of you don't even know about. They cared about human dignity gay or straight and supported causes that went back to the shirtwaist fire. In short, most of you, particularly bloggers like Perley who pretend to know about NY but haven't even taken the trouble to read up slightly on its political history, haven't a clue or the curiosity to boast of an insight.

    Reply
  45. Pingback: Koch’s Legacy | gaycitynews.com

  46. Pingback: The Ed Koch and AIDS Controversy « Places That Are No More

  47. Dionysius February 25, 2013 at 3:24 am

    I love it that he was Jewish.

    Reply
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  52. Chigahan July 4, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    <a>
    Larry Kramer is morally corrupt

    Reply
  53. Moira October 6, 2014 at 9:29 am

    I don't get it… Being unmarried makes you gay? Supporting anti- gay measures makes you gay? I must be a gigantic lesbian and never knew it. Now that he is deceased where are all these people claiming to have been ed's lovers? Koch is correct, it is no ones business. And calling a bridge an apple, doesn't make it an apple. People have the right to be private. I don't think he was gay. I think he was a smart, lonely jewish kid from the Bronx who was not a chick magnet so he made friends and got social another way: politics. And goodness almighty, you can't please everyone, done more? I lived in NYC under his years. He did a lot! And maybe if had done more no one would know who Larry Kramer was.

    Reply

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