(Mirror) Every new year we look back and remember those men and women who left us during the year, leaving behind a legacy of achievement and love.
Some of those departed ones were world-famous, while others were personal friends. Richard Sedlak (1949-2019), who died Nov. 6 after a long illness, was one of those friends.
But Richard’s passing was not just a loss to those of us who loved him as a friend or family member. In his lifetime, Richard made major contributions to the South Florida community, LGBT and otherwise. In fact, his adult life was a history of achievement.
I first met Richard Sedlak in 1979, shortly after he and I began our careers in activism. Shortly after that, Richard was elected president of the Broward County Coalition for Human Rights, this county’s answer to the more famous group in Dade County.
Though the BCCHR was never as successful as the more discreet Tuesday Night Group, its very existence contributed to Broward’s activist history and launched a few activist careers, Sedlak’s included.
Around the same time, Richard got involved in Pride South Florida, aiding the event’s transition from Dade to Broward. He served several terms as Chair of Pride South Florida, running some successful Pride Festivals at the Hollywood Sportatorium and the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale.
Richard was also involved in the local leather/SM/fetish community and was a member of the Stingrays MC before he and the late Steve Selwyn founded Saber MC in 1984.
Though I was never much of a leatherman I joined Saber MC in 1985 and became a part of Richard’s circle of friends. Later my partner, the late Michael Greenspan, joined Saber MC and he and Richard also became friends. Richard and I alternated as president of Saber and remained active members until the Club’s dissolution around 2005.
But there was more to Richard Sedlak than LGBT activism.
An avid seashell collector, he was a valued member of the Broward Shell Club, and served as president for seven years.
In gratitude, the Shell Club started a GoFundMe page to raise money for his memorial. Sedlak was also a member of the local Orchid Society, Garden Club and Bromeliad Society. In his personal life, Richard took loving care of his aged and feeble father and of two successive partners during their final illnesses and deaths from AIDS complications. He was a kind and loving brother, uncle and friend.
Richard Sedlak was one of our community’s greats.
Unfortunately, due to illness, he had to step back from public life during his last years. Our community, wrapped up in the cares and concerns of the day, does not remember Richard and all that he has done to make our lives better. I hope this article restores his memory.
- Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and journalist. He has been an active member of South Florida's LGBT community for more than four decades and has served in various community organizations.
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