February 4, 2013

What the NY Times didn't tell you about Ed Koch

Andy Humm, Gay City News - 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.

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.

Huffington Post - The New York Times revised its obituary of former New York City mayor Ed Koch after several observers noticed that it lacked any mention of his controversial record on AIDS.

The paper's obituary, written by longtime staffer Robert D. MacFadden, weighed in at 5,500 words. Yet, in the first version of the piece, AIDS was mentioned exactly once, in a passing reference to "the scandals and the scourges of crack cocaine, homelessness and AIDS." The Times also prepared a 22-minute video on Koch's life that did not mention AIDS.

This struck many as odd; after all, Koch presided over the earliest years of AIDS, and spent many years being targeted by gay activists who thought he was not doing nearly enough to stop the spread of the disease. Legendary writer and activist Larry Kramer called Koch "a murderer of his own people" because the mayor was widely known as a closeted gay man.

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