Gay History 101: October 21, 2015

Dan Savage is an American gay activist, author, media pundit, and journalist. (Facebook)

Edward I "Ed" Koch (1924 –2013) was an American lawyer and politician. He served in the U.S House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977 and three terms as mayor of New York City, which he led from fiscal insolvency to economic boom, from 1978 to 1989. A period of enormous change for the LGBT movement, including the beginning and some of the worst years of the AIDS crisis. Koch was a lifelong Democrat who described himself as a "liberal with sanity." He crossed party lines to endorse Rudy Giuliani for mayor in 1993, Michael Bloomberg in 2001, and President George W. Bush in 2004.

A popular figure, he rode the New York City Subway and stood at street corners greeting passersbys with the slogan "How'm I doin'?" He died without ever publicly acknowledging his homosexuality. He has never been forgiven by large numbers of gay men and others who lost loved ones to AIDS. 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 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.”

Charles Kaiser (1950) is an American author, journalist and blogger. He is the author of “The Cost of Courage,” “1968 In America,” and “The Gay Metropolis” (both available from Grove Press). “The Gay Metropolis” was a Lambda Literary Award   winner, as well as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He wrote the afterword for a new edition of Merle Miller's landmark work, “On Being Different: What it Means to Be a Homosexual,” which was published by Penguin Classics in the fall of 2012. That afterword was excerpted on the website of the New York Review of Books

Merle Dale Miller (1919 –1986) was an American writer, novelist, and best-selling author who came out of the closet in an article in the NYT Magazine on January 17, 1971, titled "What It Means to Be a Homosexual." Due to the response of over 2,000 letters to the article (more than ever received by that newspaper) the article, with additional material was published later that year as a book. Miller became a spokesman for the gay rights movement. The article was again published as a book by Penguins Classics   in 2012, with a new foreword by Dan Savage and a new afterword by Charles Kaiser .

Dan Savage (1964) is an American gay activist, author, media pundit, and journalist. Savage writes the internationally syndicated relationship and sex advice column Savage Love. In 2010, Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, began the It Gets Better Project to help prevent suicide among LGBT youth. He has also worked as a theater director, sometimes credited as Keenan Hollahan. In his writing and public appearances, Savage has clashed with social conservatives on the right and the LGBT establishment on the left. He has been particularly vocal in response to Rick Santorum's views on homosexuality.. He has made several controversial public statements in various media, often lambasting people with whom he disagrees.

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