Monday, December 14, 2009

Prominent HIV/AIDS activist Dennis deLeon passes away

Prominent New York HIV/AIDS activist Dennis deLeon passed away earlier today in Manhattan. He was 61.

“Dennis was a force to be reckoned with," Ernesto Loperena, former board chair of the Latino Commission on AIDS, said. "If there was a social justice issue that needed to be addressed you knew you wanted Dennis on your side. His work and his voice were respected nationwide and there was no greater champion for Latinos living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. He will be greatly missed.”

A former New York City Human Rights Commissioner, deLeon publicly disclosed his status as a person living with the virus in an op-ed the New York Times published in May 1993. He became president of the Latino Commission on AIDS a year later. And deLeon led the organization until earlier this year.

“For the better part of the past two decades, Dennis deLeon has worked tirelessly to end discrimination against HIV-positive individuals and expand access to care for all communities, and I was saddened to learn of his passing this morning," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn described deLeon as "a friend, a mentor, an advocate, a trailblazer and a hero."

“A pioneer in his work, Dennis deLeon has left a legacy in the LGBT community, the HIV/AIDS community and the Latino community," she continued. "His work in each community was valiant and he was one of the hardest workers and most committed people I ever had the privilege of working with on any issue."

Latino Commission on AIDS president Guillermo Chacon further applauded his former boss.

“It will be a challenge to pick up the mantle Dennis has left for us at the Commission," he said. "Dennis was a friend, a mentor and an example of what a national leader should be. He is a testament to the human spirit and the power of perseverance. His work and his dedication to our community will not be forgotten."

DeLeon's partner of 32 years, Bruce Kiernan, survives him alongside his father, sister, stepmother and other family members.


DOFL said...

Terribly tragedy, he was a great spirit and a great fighter.

Lisa Brown said...

Thank you for honoring the memory of my cousin Dennis. He was a great man, leader and fighter for the rights of all human beings.

Lisa Brown
Santa Rosa, CA