Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Tribute to Rodger McFarlane

Last week I learned that Rodger McFarlane, a long time leader in the LGBT community, committed suicide. Rodger was the former executive director of the Gill Foundation, an AIDS activist who helped start ACT UP and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Rodger was also an athlete who competed in international triathlons. He accomplished more in his 54 years than most of us will who live to be far older than he was when he died. Rodger suffered from debilitating back problems and other health issues that severely limited his ability to travel and do the work he loved and that apparently was the main factor in his decision to end his life.

I knew Rodger because he supported It Takes A Team. He not only provided us with generous financial support, he also gave me lots of great advice about fund raising strategies. I never met Rodger face to face, but we had several phone conversations in which he exhorted me, who hates to ask people for money, to be more bold and confident. We have an important project in It Takes A Team, he told me, so sell it. You can do it.

It meant a great deal to me to have someone of Rodger’s stature in the LGBT community support ITAT and believe in us the way that he did. In these rough financial times especially, I am trying to channel Rodger’s fund raising pep talks. I will miss him as will everyone who knew him.

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