Ed Koch Still Perfectly Happy to Live In the Closet (With the Light Turned On)


New York City’s biggest wink-and-nod closeted homosexual — besides Anderson Cooper — is Ed Koch. That the former city mayor walks with a lighter step is accepted fact among politicos, the media, and most denizens of the Big Apple. But he won’t go on record to acknowledge as much, which makes for an interesting means of profiling the guy.

Which the New York Times just did in yesterday’s paper. Without much of a reason to point out Koch’s sexual proclivities, the Times‘ Sam Roberts describes him as “a lifelong bachelor” who “declines to say whether he is gay.”

Says Koch (pictured here at a screening of, ahem, Milk): “I do not want to add to the acceptability of asking every candidate, ‘Are you straight or gay or lesbian?’ and make it a legitimate question, so I don’t submit to that question. I don’t care if people think I’m gay because I don’t answer it. I’m flattered that at 84 people are interested in my sex life — and, it’s quite limited.”

And I agree: Though we’re free to speculate until James Dobson flies or Fred Phelps freezes over, a person’s sex life is his own business, even if everyone is already 99.99999999998 percent certain of the truth. That is, of course, until you start legislating away our civil rights, and then we’ll start combing through your past with pink triangles.

The mayor’s preference not to talk about his sex life, of course, is nothing new. Here’s Koch in a 2007 interview with Time Out New York:

Time Out: Are you gay?

EK: When was the last time you performed oral sex on your boyfriend?

Time Out: Well I’m single now so it was a long time ago.

EK: See, I do’t think you should answer that question. It’s an improper question, and so is yours. My sexual orientation is none of your business and whether or not you performed oral sex on your boyfriend is none of my business.

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  • Eminent Victorian

    Yet it’s “okay” to ask straight people about their marriages and for them to yap endlessly about it because: fewer people find shame in that. I think he’s on the wrong side of history on this closet business.

  • Nota Koch Fan

    Koch should have picked “Rather than admit I was gay, I looked the other way, and AIDS won the day” for his tombstone’s epitaph.

    When he was the mayor; Koch totally ignored the developing AIDS epidemic in New York City, particularly in the beginning part of his administration (’81-’83) because he was afraid of lending credibility to rumors swirling around regarding the possibility that he might be homosexually inclined.

    Although Koch and his cronies always claimed that the city acted as quickly and responsibly “as it could” it actually took the Mayor seven years into the epidemic just to issue “a preliminary plan” for housing assistance for people with AIDS.

    Claiming that ‘the city is sparing no effort’ against AIDS, Mayor Koch created the Office of Gay and Lesbian Health Concerns in 1983. However there was never any AIDS agency or assistance created for drug users, not just neglecting drug addicts but entirely writing them off.

  • Gregoire

    I find “Ed Koch” and “oral sex” in the same sentence particularly repellant.

  • cufflinks

    Mayor Ed Koch is not gay! You all just think he is because he’s so damned sexually attractive! Just like Jake Gyllenhahl and Richard Gere!

  • KPC

    Being gay or lesbian is much more than your “sex life” and it is perfectly okay to ask the question just as it is perfectly okay not to answer it (but sort of chickenshit if you ask me). It is an important question to ask because of society’s continued ignorance, fear and hatred towards sexual minorities. Only by coming out will change truly take place, legislation is but a small part of the equation. Some day, probably far in the future, humans will understand that none of this truly matters in the grand scheme of things and come to understand and accept that people are complex – some are gay, some are not, some are inbetween, etc. Until that time comes, keep asking the questions and much applause to those who have the balls to answer them truthfully.

  • Anonymous

    @Eminent Victorian: He actually said that that is not okay either.

    I don’t know. I don’t think there is just one good side, I think he has a point as well. You shouldn’t care. I think both ‘you shouldn’t care’ and ‘yeah, I’m gay, so?’ are good arguments to make.

    In this case, say there wasn’t such a huge issue made of the question like it’s something abnormal, or sensational, of important knowledge about a person, the kind of thing that warrants a tabloid cover, then it might make people look at someone differently than ‘that’s the gay guy’, and more at their whole personalities, ‘that’s the clever guy with the nice smile’. I think that’s positive too. In actuality, sexuality is only (should only be) really important when it concerns the person you want to be with, after all. More focus on all people as human beings (and treating them as such), less on the cause of conflict and assigning labels, would be the idea, I think.

    …Your thoughts?

  • Jaroslaw

    Not to excuse the mayor, but I’m quite a bit younger than he is and it took me quite a while to be comfortable with being Gay. Perhaps folks in their 20’s or even early 30’s wouldn’t understand this.

    Having said that, it is hard to imagine a big city Mayor being in the limelight all the time, being asked all kinds of questions of personal and political natures, it is kind of sad he can’t come to terms with this so late in his life.

    Having been as generous with him as I can, I also want to point out that per Randy Shilt’s book (and I vaguely remember reading various newspaper & magazine articles that backed up a lot of what was in the book) NYC under Mayor Koch wouldn’t even cough up a tiny bit of money for an AIDS shelter in an abandoned school. That was only one thing in a long list; so don’t let him get away with saying NYC did all it could for people with AIDS. He didn’t. It’s shameful and THAT I will hold him accountable for.

  • Jaroslaw

    oops – the book was “And the Band played on”

  • RichardR

    @KPC: Very inexplicably tiresome, Koch’s dodging this question. Why can’t he say both “Yes I am,” and “It’s none of your business.” I’m nearly as old as he is, do nothing whatever to hide being gay, couldn’t if I tried, and it’s been decades since anybody asked me, BUT if someone did, my answer would be something like “Yes, why do you ask?” But like you Jaraslaw, it took me a while to get here. PS, wasn’t Shilts book an amazing work? Heartbreaking.

  • Jaroslaw

    Yes, RichardR – that was an amazing book and it would be required reading in high Schools & colleges if I had anything to say about it!

    I read it three times, the first time all the chronological stuff was so tedious and I kind of skimmed over it. Then I gave it another try. THEN I saw the movie, and read every detail with great interest. It was still tedious sort of but tolerable. I think it had to be an incredible “labor of love” because that kind of book had to be just an unfathomable amount of work.

  • Jaroslaw

    What I meant to say was also, but got mentally sidetracked – the details draw a picture not possible any other way.

  • getreal

    Ed Koch is gay??????!!!!!!!!!

  • Sebbe

    re: disclosure I give him a pass since he is almost a centenarian. He was born in the 20s. He is still rather a douche though.

  • Psychofag

    At his age it´s useless to come out…he´s not gonna get laid anyway…

  • ew.

    ewww the hets can keep him! they can keep every other ugly fag that is considering coming out too!

  • Mister C

    Us NY’kers have always known he was a QUEEN,

    To the Imports into NYC YES she is one of us!

    We love Ms Koch he stills lives with his partner today!

  • getreal

    @Psychofag: I respectfully disagree there are many, many people out there who voted for this man some of them homophobes. His coming out could be an ah ha! moment for some of them especially the elderly who the gay community does virtually no outreach to. Like Harvey Milk said coming out helps change minds.

  • Vito Sutulovich

    Can’t wait for sex in the city 8, big fan

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