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The Daily Agenda for Friday, December 28

Jim Burroway

December 28th, 2012

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Closeted Anti-Gay Activist Dies of AIDS: 1986. Terry Dolan, who helped to found the National Conservative Political Action Committee, was pretty well known in elite gay circles. According to Randy Shilts’s And the Band Played On, when playwright Larry Kramer recognized him at a Washington, D.C. cocktail party, he walked up to Dolan and threw a drink is his face. “How dare you come here?” he shouted. “You take the best from our world and then do all those hateful things against us. You should be ashamed.”

Among those awful things was sending out fundraising letters for NCPAC, which claimed that “Our nation’s moral fiber is being weakened by the growing homosexual movement and the fanatical E.R.A. pushers (many of whom publicly brag they are lesbians).” Meanwhile, Dolan had, at the time of that 1984 encounter with Kramer, had just ended an affair with a male epidemiologist at the New York City Health Department, and was then enjoying everything the gay social scene had to offer.

Dolan knew how to raise money. “The “shriller you are,” he said in 1982, “the easier it is to raise money.” That’s been the recipe for anti-gay activists ever since. But four years later, Dolan himself was dead of AIDS at the age of 36. The following May, The Washington Post published an article about “the cautious closet” of Terry Dolan. His brother, Reagan White House speechwriter Anthony Dolan was livid, and took out an two-page ad in The Washington Times, arguing that “the greatest and most malicious falsehood in this story was its entire thrust, its basis: the claim that my brother lived and died a homosexual.” But he did live and die a homosexual, and a deeply closeted one at that. But despite his and the family’s best efforts, the secret was out, and no amount of wishful thinking otherwise would ever change that.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
December 28th, 2012 | LINK

I remember this slime ball. The rumors about his private life in the fac of his public life were quite common back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. His spiritual descendants continue to infest our community. I’ve always found it hard to decide whether thecworst ones are those who know who they are and are fine with it, but consider power and money to be far more important than things like integrity and love, or the ones who know who they are, but wish desperately that they didn’t, and don’t mind picking up a lot of power and money while they struggle against the only decent part of themselves.

TampaZeke
December 28th, 2012 | LINK

If I believed in hell I would be absolutely sure that this scumbag is there.

K in VA
December 28th, 2012 | LINK

I still remember Dolan, and find my blood pressure rising a bit just thinking about him. After all these years!

By the way, anyhone who has never read Randy Shilts’ “And the Band Played On” should do so. Everything else Randy wrote is also well worth reading. He was a fine writer and historian. And, like so many, he died too young.

Timothy Kincaid
December 28th, 2012 | LINK

Although I find it hard not to have contempt for the man, I also have pitty. What an awful life. No amount of money, power, or fame can compensate for a tortured soul.

I believe (though it may be a naive hope) that in the quiet hours of the night, those who barter in hate and destruction have to face their conscience. In the darkness ‘those people are vile’ and ‘those people are me’ must have confronted each other. And what a terrifying experience that must have been for Dolan.

Donny D.
December 29th, 2012 | LINK

Seriously, Dolan was supposed to have been in the closet? I remember the years of CURRENT news coverage about him, and now, what, 20+ years later, I’m supposed to believe he was closeted? If so, I don’t know for whom he was closeted. Gay media during his time of notoriety found him to be pretty obviously a gay man. Or at least that’s how I remember things.

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