Ed Koch On Openly Gay Politicians: “I Helped Make That Happen”

ed kochThere are 50 states in the union and only 20 of them have laws—I was responsible for the city of New York—that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. [Homophobia] is not something I’d say has gone away. In the state of New York, it’s much different than it used to be. In other states, not so much.

I think [Christine Quinn run for mayor] is marvelous. I helped make that happen, and I’m very proud of that. Remember that in the first month of my administration, I issued an executive order barring discrimin ation based on such things. People were shocked.”

Former NYC mayor Ed Koch, ruminating on his legacy, in an interview with conducted shortly before his death.

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  • Gigi Gee

    Thanks to closet-case Koch’s refusal to acknowledge the Aids crisis in New York when the epidemic broke out, for fear of scaring tourists from coming to the city, approximately 100 000 gay men died. While it’s sad when anyone dies, the passing of Mr. Koch does nothing other than make me mourn the many friends that I lost to Aids. Many of those deaths could have been prevented had Koch and others in positions of power given a damn. But they didn’t. They didn’t care that The Gays were dying off. They felt that they/we deserved it. It was our punishment. I don’t use the word “hate” very often but I can honestly say that I hate Ed Koch.

  • ManhattanWino

    @Gigi Gee

    While Koch was certainly wrong in the early stages of the Aids crises, who was right? I would like to know who the prominent elected officials where who publicly spoke the right words and took action. I can’t think of any. So you attack Koch for showing the same level of courage (very little to none) that everyone else did? Was he obligated, because he was likely gay, to show some form of super natural courage on this topic at a time when nobody else was and everyone was scared to death? How unfair. I simply can’t get behind criticizing someone who obviously evolved for a lack of leadership on an issue from thirty years ago. By that measure, history would be unlikely to view anyone in power favorably at all. Acknowledging the general societal indifference at the time is one thing, but picking on Koch for it after his death in 2013 misses the bigger picture. Your comments about Koch being responsible for 100000 deaths, that he didn’t care if people died and he thought we deserved it etc are as disgustingly vile as they are untrue.

  • Ronbo

    Koch is a urine stain on humanity. Gigi Gee is absolutely right. Hindsight may be 20/20; but, Koch did the absolute wrong thing for the wrong reason when it mattered most.

    I’m sure he’s with his buddy Ronald Reagan looking up at us now. That fart’s for you, Koch. It’s not much… but a lot more than you deserve.

  • ManhattanWino

    Yet another classy, poet.

  • FStratford

    @Gigi Gee:

    Can you explain to the rest of us how his “acknowledging” the crisis would have prevented deaths? Would it have created a vaccine? Prevented gays from engaging in unprotected sex?

  • Gigi Gee

    @ManhattanWino I understand that people want to applaud the man for his accomplishments, of which there were many, but the doesn’t suddenly absolve him from the one great stain on his legacy. While thousands of gay men died of Aids in his precious city, Koch did nothing. No politician or person of influence did anything. I can understand why Koch might have been hesitant to help. During his election campaign, someone (Andrew Cuomo was suspected) put up posters that read: “Vote for Cuomo, Not The Homo.” In spite of the hate and vitriol, Koch won. I’m sure this affected him for many years to come. And I understand that to talk about Aids, which tens of thousands of gay men died in his city, would have made fewer tourists visit the city but, so what! He didn’t say anything because to do so would have made people question why he was helping the faggots.

    Please don’t scold me on how “unfair” I’m being to Koch, or insinuate that I waited until he died to discuss this. I didn’t. I’ve said the same things of Koch for decades. My opinion of him is shared by many, mostly the ones who saw far too many friends die of Aids while Koch and his other closeted friends were partying at Gracie mansion. I’ve seen more body bags in my lifetime than anyone should.

    I was friends with many wealthy, closeted men who lived in New York at that time. They all felt the same as Koch. It was “those gays” that were dying of Aids. They deserved to die for being so promiscuous. They didn’t matter. I’m here to tell you that they did.

    @ FStratford I would love to explain this to you. Had Koch talked about Aids, warned people about the epidemic, lives would have been saved. Would it have prevented gay men from having unprotected sex? Would it have created a vaccine? Perhaps not. But by doing nothing, saying nothing, more people died than needed to. I liken it to loosely to cancers caused by cigarette smoking. For many years cigarette manufacturers, advertising executives and politicians knew that smoking could kill you, yet they said nothing. No one talked about the dangers of smoking. As a result, people died. Cigarette manufactures were trying to protect their profits. Advertisers were trying to protect their livelihoods. Politicians were trying to protect their income stream from the taxes they received from the sale of cigarettes. Does that suffice? If not let me know. I’ve got lots more to say on the matter.

  • Will L

    @ManhattanWino: You are absolutely correct. Well stated. This was a time when powerful politicians would get you out of office if you were gay. You had to walk carefully. Koch was just what we needed at the time.

    And, on the AIDS comment, I doubt that he could have saved any lives. If speaking out would avoid deaths, why are people still dying? Hasn’t anyone spoken out yet? Yes, I think they have. And yet people are still dying. Don’t criticize a person for not curing cancer unless you can cure cancer yourself.

  • Will L

    BTW My comment above was intended to be @GiGiGee not @ManhattanWino. I think I clicked wrong.

  • SkeeterVT

    Aside from his inaction on the AIDS crisis, I cannot forgive Ed Koch for his polarizing the city of my birth and childhood along racial lines. Under Koch’s mayoral tenure — especially his third term — he had so alienated African-American New Yorkers that his bid for a fourth term in 1981 ended in defeat, losing the Democratic primary to David Dinkins. New York had become a racial time bomb ready to explode at any moment.

    Even New York’s LGBT community became polarized along racial lines during Koch’s watch — especially after a black church pastor went on a shooting rampage in the gay West Village, killing six people. This after his son came out to him. It got so bad, that I just couldn’t take it anymore and had to leave my hometown for good.

  • SkeeterVT

    Correction. His bid for a fourth term was in 1989.

  • FStratford

    @Gigi Gee:

    Thanks. It helps me understand. It could have been a defining moment for him, but he missed his chance.

  • FStratford


    Yet another missed opportunity to show some leadership by Koch.

    Too bad, since we do look up to the Mayor of New York City, more than any mayor in the US – even the ones we don’t always agree with: Guilliani, Bloomberg come to mind.

    I suppose he did some good things but really messed up on a couple of big ones.

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