Eric Rofes

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Eric Rofes
Born August 31, 1954
Commack, New York
Died June 26, 2006
Provincetown, Massachusetts
Cause of death myocardial infarction
Education Harvard University
University of California, Berkeley
Occupation Activist
University professor

Eric Rofes (August 31, 1954 – June 26, 2006) was a gay activist, educator, and author who wrote or edited 12 books.


Early life[edit]

Eric Rofes was born on August 31, 1954 and grew up in Commack, New York. He graduated from Harvard University and went on to receive a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1995 as well as a doctorate in social and cultural studies in 1998.[1]


He was appointed to the White House Conference on the Family in 1980. He became director of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center in the 1980s. In 1989, he became executive director of the Shanti Project, a nonprofit AIDS service organization in San Francisco. He resigned in 1993, following an audit that questioned how the group had spent federal funds.

In 1998, while doing his PhD at UC Berkeley, Rofes wrote Dry Bones Breathe: Gay Men Creating Post-AIDS Identities and Cultures, in which he argued that the AIDS crisis had passed and gay men needed to free themselves from the sense of emergency and victimhood.[2] A review in The Nation described Dry Bones Breathe as "perhaps the most important book about gay male culture and community of the past decade." However, the book has also been castigated for only limning the experiences of 'middle-class, urban, white, gay men' instead of being more societally inclusive.[3]

He was a professor of Education at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, and served on the board of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and White Crane Institute. One of the last projects he worked on was the creation, with Chris Bartlett, of a series of "Gay Men's Health Leadership Academies" to combat what he saw as a "pathology-focused understanding of gay men" in safe-sex education.[4] These workshops have continued as a continuation of his legacy.


He was living in Provincetown, Massachusetts, working on his 13th book when he died of a heart attack.[5]


Humboldt State established the Eric Rofes Center after his death as a new program in honor of his legacy and to continue his work in queer-feminist activism. The Eric Rofes Multicultural Queer Resource center is a student-run, student-funded initiative that provides programming and resources for Humboldt State University's LGBTQIA community. It is located in Warren House #53 on campus.


  • The Kids' Book of Divorce (1983)
  • I Thought People Like That Killed Themselves: Lesbians, Gay Men and Suicide (1983)
  • The Kids' Book About Parents (1983)
  • The Kids' Book About Death and Dying (1997)
  • Socrates, Plato, & Guys Like Me (1985)
  • Gay Life (1986)
  • Living with AIDS on Long Island (1989)
  • Reviving the Tribe (1996)
  • Opposite Sex (1998)
  • Dry Bones Breathe: Gay Men Creating Post-AIDS Identities and Cultures (1998)
  • Youth and Sexualities (2004)
  • The Emancipatory Promise of Charter Schools (2004)
  • A Radical Rethinking of Sexuality & Schooling (2005)
  • Thriving (with an introduction by Chris Bartlett & Tony Valenzuela) (Posthumous) (PDF of Thriving)


  1. ^ "Eric RofesGay Activist, Author". The Washington Post. July 8, 2006. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  2. ^ Martin, Douglas (June 29, 2006). "Eric Rofes, Commentator on Gay Issues, Dies at 51". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  3. ^ Journal of Homosexuality, volume 53, issue 3, 'Gay Activism and Scholarship from the Front Lines: Contributions of Eric Rofes – A Memoriam' by Donald C. Barrett
  4. ^ "Gay Bodies, Gay Selves: Understanding the Gay Men’s Health Movement" White Crane #66
  5. ^ Buchanan, Wyatt (June 28, 2006). "Eric Rofes -- scholar, educator, gay men's health activist". The San Francisco Chronicle. 

External links[edit]