Brian John Coyle (25 June 1944 – 23 August 1991) was an American community leader, elected official, and gay activist.
He was born in Great Falls, Montana, raised in Moorhead, Minnesota, graduated from Moorhead High School, and received a BA degree from the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis campus) in 1967. While at the University, Coyle was a member of Students for a Democratic Society and a writer for the Minnesota Daily. He organized the first Vietnam 'teach-in' at the University, and originated the Free University.
After graduating from the University, he taught humanities at Moorhead State University for one year, where he was indicted for failure to register for the draft, but was acquitted as a conscientious objector.
He returned to Minneapolis in 1968, worked at the Twin Cities Draft Information Center, and was one of the founders of the alternative newspaper Hundred Flowers. He worked as national office coordinator for the New American Movement and directed the National Campaign to Impeach Nixon, and founded the Progressive Roundtable. During this time (1971), he publicly came out as gay.
Locally, Coyle spent much time in the mid-to-late-1970s working on tenants' rights issues, and campaigning (unsuccessfully) for a rent control ordinance. He was also active in powerline protests in rural Minnesota (along with future Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone).
In 1978, Coyle ran as an independent candidate for US Senator, in a special election to complete the term of Hubert Humphrey (losing to David Durenberger). In 1979, he ran for Mayor of Minneapolis (losing to DFL'er Don Fraser). He ran for the Minneapolis City Council (Ward 6) in 1981, but lost to incumbent Jackie Slater in a close race. In 1983, he won election to the City Council, where he concentrated on affordable housing, human rights, economic development, the environment and transportation. He served as council vice president. He was one of 13 openly gay elected officials at the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials (INLGO) Conference in 1985.
He served 3 terms on the City Council. He was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986, but this was not known publicly until 1991, the same year that he died from AIDS-related complications, aged 47.
Brian Coyle was a thoughtful and passionate city council member. He had a solid track-record of representing all people in the community, not only those with money and influence. Around 1990, when the rough apartment building at 1801 LaSalle Avenue was proposed as 26 apartments for homeless persons, it was opposed vigorously by a some very aggressive neighborhood property owners. In the face of lawsuits, political threats, and even physical threats to himself and others, Councilmember Coyle stood firm that it was the right thing to do for people. He helped keep the Opportunity Housing development (which also included The Continental Hotel (12th and LaSalle) and The Lamoreaux (7th Street and 1st Avenue) on track politically when more conservative public lenders and city officials started to get cold feet from the barrage of vitriolic opposition. When the nonprofit developer Aeon (then known as Central Community Housing Trust) opened the LaSalle property, they named it in Brian Coyle's honor, not only because of his principled support for the Opportunity Housing project for homeless people, but for his overall passionate support of under-represented people of all kinds.