Task Force mourns loss of longtime activist Bob Kohler

December 06, 2007

Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
(Office) 646.358.1465
(Cell) 917.704.6358

“Our New York community — indeed our national movement — lost another unsung hero with the death of Bob Kohler.” — Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mourns the loss of longtime activist Bob Kohler, who died of cancer yesterday at the age of 81.

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“Our New York community — indeed our national movement — lost another unsung hero with the death of Bob Kohler.

“Bob was a complex man. When someone would praise him as a Stonewall veteran, he'd be candid in saying he just happened to come across the riots while walking his dog on Christopher Street and dressed in a ‘bourgeoisie homosexual outfit.’ Although hardly a shy man, he'd always minimize his role in helping to found the Gay Liberation Front or in executing complex ACT UP demonstrations. He helped drive gay fashion trends from his stores on the Upper West Side, Greenwich Village and Fire Island. He was a loyal friend to transgender leaders Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, who had distinctly different styles. Even though he was frequently the victim of shoplifting by queer youth on Christopher Street, he always stood up for them, speaking out against the efforts of the other merchants to drive them away. He was openly contemptuous of the police department but had the respect and cooperation of the Sixth Precinct in the Village. His irascibility and blunt ways hid a warm and open heart.

“We all owe Bob our gratitude for a life devoted to our liberation and an obligation to keep his memory alive.”


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.