“So many people, particularly in the gay community, thought Koch was gay and that because he was a closeted gay man he wouldn’t do anything on AIDS,” Geto says in Neil Barsky’s Koch. “It would have been so incredibly invaluable for a popular mayor of New York to declare he was gay.”
Koch, who served three terms as mayor from 1978 to 1989, told the New York Post he was taken aback by Geto’s comments, as he was someone he once considered a friend.
“I was shocked, frankly,” Koch said. “Why would he do that?”
Author and activist described Koch as a “closeted gay man” and branded him “the person most responsible for allowing AIDS to get out of control.” In his award-winning play, The Normal Heart, Kramer writes that the only way to get Mayor Koch to address the epidemic would be to “hire a hunky hustler and send him up to Gracie Mansion with our plea tattooed on his cock.”
The octogenarian has always refused to publicly acknowledge his sexuality, claiming it would “legitimize the question” and make it harder for anyone contemplating a run for public office.
A lifelong bachelor, Koch’s sexuality became an issue during his 1977 mayoral run against Mario Cuomo — father of current New York governor Andrew Cuomo — when anonymous posters appeared bearing the catchy slogan, “Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo.”
“I always blamed both Mario and Andrew for putting it up or having the placard put up,” Koch recently told The Daily Beast. “Andrew came to see me when he was running for attorney general … He said ‘I had nothing to do with it.’ Well, it’s difficult to accept, but I accept it. He said it, I accept it. I don’t have proof to the contrary.”