Rodger McFarlane, a leader in gay rights and HIV/AIDS advocacy efforts, died on Friday in New Mexico at age 54, the New York Times reports. According to McFarlane's brother, John, he committed suicide. In a letter, McFarlane wrote that he did not want to become further debilitated by heart and back problems, the Times reports.
McFarlane was the director of the Gay Men's Health Crisis from 1982 to 1985, and served as the executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS from 1989 to 1994. He also served as president of the HIV/AIDS and housing organization Bailey House, and from 2004 to 2008 was the executive director of the Gill Foundation in Denver. "AIDS pointed to the inequitable status of gays," McFarlane said in the Times in 1983, adding, "We were forced to take care of ourselves because we learned that if you have certain diseases, certain lifestyles, you can't expect the same services as other parts of society" (Hevesi, New York Times, 5/19). Tim Sweeney, president of the Gill Foundation, said in a statement, "We will eternally be in his debt as a result of his many, lasting contributions" (AP/Google.com, 5/18).
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