(By Tris Reid-Smith Gay Star News)
Leading gay American journalist and activist Doug Ireland has died aged 67 at his home in East Village, New York. He died after a long period of illness on Saturday (26 October). The leading LGBT US publication he worked for, Gay City News, reports he had suffered from the after-effects of childhood polio, diabetes and severe sciatica and had at least two major strokes. Ireland wrote particularly on politics, power, media, and also LGBTI issues.
As well as a journalist, he was also a campaigner. In the early 1960s he was part of the American new left and one of the youngest members of Students for a Democratic Society. He was elected to the group’s National Council in 1963 at just 17. Later in the 60s he devoted his time to electoral organizing against the Vietnam War. He spent much of the 70s in political campaigning before returning to full-time journalism in 1977. He worked for the New York Post among others and was still a contributing editor for Gay City News and US correspondent for French political-investigative weekly Bakchich. LGBTI campaigners and friends have been leading tributes to him.
Gay activist Peter Tatchell said: ‘Doug Ireland was a veteran leftist and LGBT campaigner. A supporter of many progressive causes, he was also a superb writer. ‘His many articles helped shine a light on often neglected aspects of LGBT issues, culture and history. He was a thinker and activist of note.
Despite the ill-health of his latter years, he always spared a thought for others. ‘He was a kind, warm-hearted man. It was a great honor and privilege to know and work with him. He will be missed and long remembered by me and many other people.’ Omar Kuddus, a global human rights advocate and GSN contributor, said: ‘In life there are some who are born to be an activist. For them it is a passion – not for the glory or recognition, not as a business but for what they believe to be right and their duty to address the injustices and wrongs fellow LGBTs face. ‘Doug Ireland was such a person. ‘When I was fighting the UK for the right to “marry” my asylum-seeker boyfriend, Doug helped me see the wood from the trees – being to close to the case to be rational myself. ‘Without his help, assistance and talks I have no doubt Robby would not have achieved his right to stay, and swung from the gallows in Iran for his sexuality.’ Kuddus particularly remembered Ireland’s work on LGBTI issues in Iran. He said: ‘He highlighted the execution of the two gay Iranian teenagers – one 18, the other believed to be 16 or 17 – for the “crime” of homosexuality, bringing the case to worldwide attention and condemnation. ‘His contributions on Iran’s Hidden Homosexual History still stands and is used by LGBT asylum lawyers and advocates today. ‘Doug like most activist had his share of opponents to his activism and passion, but I sincerely hope they remember the good he has achieved. ‘With his death not only has the LGBT community lost a crusader, but I have lost a friend.’
Tributes on Facebook praised him as an ‘inspiration’ and a ‘pioneering journalist’ who provided a ‘solid and outstanding voice for justice’.