Rest in Power
Longtime LGBTQ activist Arthur Gursch died on June 22. He was 72.
Art was an LGBTQ activist for nearly 50 years. He also identified with the struggles of other oppressed people and felt it in no way compromised his commitment to the LGBT movement. In fact, it was just the opposite; early on, he identified the need to replace capitalist inequality with the socialist system of equality and became a Marxist revolutionary.
A member of the Chicago Gay Liberation Front (GLF), Art met his partner-to-be, Ortez Alderson in the GLF in 1970. Art joined the Gay Activist Alliance when the GLF dissolved in 1971. He joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in 1971 and the next year wrote an article in a party discussion bulletin advocating for the party’s intervention in the burgeoning gay and lesbian liberation movement. Art and other comrades were disappointed when the party refused to adopt this intervention, apparently out of a patronizing fear that many working women and men would be alienated from a political party supporting gay liberation. Art subsequently left the SWP.
Art lived in New York from 1973 to 1989, when he and Ortez returned to Chicago. Ortez died in Chicago in 1990.
Involved in the 1979 LGBTQ March on Washington, Art was also active in the New York chapter of Black and White Men Together.
Another organization that captured Art’s dedication was ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), both in New York and in Chicago. In May of that year he participated in a bus-disrupting protest when the CTA refused to install AIDS-countering ads on its vehicles. He also supported the efforts of ACT-UP members who saw a need to reach out to communities of color and attack the homophobia and racism that fueled the medical crisis.
Active for years in the LGBTQ outdoors group “Take a Hike,” he enjoyed getting outside and having fun.
Art was a member of the Gay Liberation Network from its inception, attending planning meetings and events promoting LGBTQ rights. But, just as he had done at the beginning and throughout his political career, he supported our group’s solidarity perspective and tirelessly promoted struggles for the rights of women, workers, immigrants, Palestinians, and the anti-war movement.
A memorial meeting will be organized for a later date.
– Gay Liberation Network, with assistance from Darrell Gordon