First Gay Congressman, Rep. Gerry Studds, Dies

You may have already heard, but former US Representative Gerry Studds died Saturday after a blood clot caught in his lung. Initially, Studds collapsed while walking his dog near his home in Massachusetts. After being rushed to the Boston Medical Center, Studds regained consciousness and all seemed well, until a second clot took his life. He was a meager 69 years-old.

While known for his championing of the fishing industry and opposition to the Vietnam War, Studds gained more notoriety in 1983, when a 27-year old former Congressional page said that he and Studds had an affair when the page was seventeen, thus thrusting Studds’ studly sexuality into the open.

Unlike Foley (you know, that other politician embroiled in a page sex scandal), Studds refused to resign from Congress, leaving himself open for official censure. While his political peers may not have been too pleased with the revelatons, his constituents reelected Studds for another six terms. Finally, back in 1997, he stepped out of the public eye.

While many will remember Studds for his scandalous outing, others will remember him as a staunch opponent to the military ban on gays, as well as an accomplished advocate for increased federal AIDS funding, and helped push forward anti-discrimination legislation.

After leaving Congress, Studds went on to live with his lover, Dean Hara, whom he married after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage. Hara joins Studds’ sister, four nephews, and a brother as legacy.

No word on whether he’ll get a state funeral. He did, however, have 842-swuare-mile Marine Sanctuary named after him in 1996. If that’s not a memorial, then we don’t know what is…