Rofes, Eric 1954-2006

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ROFES, Eric 1954-2006
(Eric Edward Rofes)


See index for CA sketch: Born August 31, 1954, in Manhasset, NY (one source says Brooklyn, NY); died June 26, 2006, in Provincetown, MA. Activist, educator, and author. Rofes was a prominent activist for homosexuals who became controversial for his permissive stand on gay sex during the age of AIDS. A teacher by vocation, he graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1976, but was fired from his first job as a sixth-grade teacher because he was gay. In 1978 he became an administrator and teacher at the Fayerweather Street School in Cambridge. During the 1970s, Rofes was already an activist, becoming a cofounder of the Boston Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance and the Gay Community News. In the early 1980s, he was also a board member for the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, and a member of the board of directors for Project Assist and chair of Project Aware for the Massachusetts Committee for Children and Youth. Working with the students at Fayerweather, Rofes published The Kids' Book of Divorce: By, For, and About Kids (1981), and the next year released what many consider the first book about gay suicide: "I Thought People Like ThatKilled Themselves": Lesbians, Gay Men, and Suicide. He left Massachusetts for California in 1985, when he was hired to be executive director of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center; four years later, he was in San Francisco as head of the AIDS service group the Shanti Project. Openly gay, Rofes considered homosexuality a positive experience and thought that the tendency of some gay men to be promiscuous was not necessarily a negative thing. Angered by the effects of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s on the gay community, he later averred that the crisis had passed, a view that drew strong criticism from those who felt Rofes was discouraging safe sex practices. He wrote about his views in such books as Reviving the Tribe: Regenerating Gay Men's Sexuality and Culture in the Ongoing Epidemic (1996) and Dry Bones Breathe: Gay Men Creating Post-AIDS Identities and Cultures (1998).



Los Angeles Times, June 30, 2006, p. B11.

New York Times, June 29, 2006, p. A21.

Washington Post, July 8, 2006, p. B6.