It’s a shame the ex-NYC mayor never came out.
It’s tragic that he hid behind excuses like the fact that he was old and wasn’t sexual at all anymore.
Old people are still sexual–and if you’re gay, you’re still gay–and besides, he could have commented on his past.
But Ed was so paranoid on the subject that when I interviewed him in the ’90s, he propped up a tape recorder to tape me as I recorded him. It was a creepy double game of “gotcha!” that led nowhere (though he was otherwise gruffly charming).
In 2011, I wrote about the particularly bad year Koch was having because two classic gay plays that portray him as the devil were being revived to acclaim.
I wrote: “Angels in America has a line in which closeted Koch’s sexuality is poked fun at (it brings the house down every time) and there’s another one in which a black nurse calls him a racist.”
And in The Normal Heart, “He’s seen as a do-nothing who evaded the AIDS crisis for political reasons, partly because he didn’t want to be associated with something gay and also because he wanted to protect New York tourism from anything potentially icky.”
But when interviewed for a documentary that came out that same year, Koch boasted about how instrumental he was in helping the early gay movement.
A man of textures and contradictions.
The world is now an emptier place, but so is the celebrity closet.