Monday, May 18, 2009

R.I.P. Rodger McFarlane

Activist Rodger McFarlane, most recently executive director of the Gill Foundation and someone I worked with in ACT UP back in the 80s, took his own life in the New Mexico desert on Friday.

Rodger's death is a huge loss for the LGBT movement, as he was a leader who'd done so many great things, from writing books to running successful organizations. I was just on a panel discussion he moderated for the documentary Outrage (this photo is from that night; the panel also included Larry Kramer and director Kirby Dick). Rodger made a crucial contribution to the film, lucidly describing the closet and the right-wing self-loathing politicians in power who have done much damage -- and with all the humor for which Rodger was always known.

I hadn't seen him in a long time when we did the panel at the Director's Guild Theater just two weeks ago in New York after the Outrage screening. He was warm, friendly and gave me a big bear hug, as he always did. In recent years he suffered from chronic back pain and was recently also worried about heart problems, as the statement from friends and family explains, noting a letter he wrote putting forth the reasons why he'd taken his life. He will be greatly missed.