A number of notable LGBT individuals and allies passed away in 2009. This year we mourned the loss of beloved politicians, performers, writers, and activists who contributed to our community through work and charity. While no list can include all of the influential people, we offer the following as a tribute to some of those who will be missed in 2010.
Bea Arthur: The Emmy and Tony award-winning actress best known for her role as Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls, who died April 25 at age 86, bequeathed $300,000 to the Ali Forney Center, an organization for homeless LGBT youths.
Gene Barry: A popular American TV actor who was nominated for a Tony award for originating the role of Georges, the gay nightclub owner, in the popular stage musical La Cage aux Folles, Barry died December 9 at age 90.
Merce Cunningham: Widely considered one of America’s greatest dancers and most innovative choreographers, and longtime partner of composer John Cage, Cunningham died July 26 at age 90.
Dominick Dunne: The bisexual author, movie producer, and regular Vanity Fair contributor was working on his final book, Too Much Money, upon his death August 26 at age 83.
Stephen Gately: The singer in the Irish pop group Boyzone lived with his partner, Andrew Cowles, and was working on a children's novel until his death October 10 at the age of 33.
Keith Goddard: The director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, who fought homophobia in the African nation, died October 9 at age 49.
E. Lynn Harris: The out author of Invisible Life and Just Too Good to Be True, among many others, considered a pioneering voice among black LGBT writers, died July 24 at age 54.
Howard Jacobs: The chairman of the board of Being Alive, HIV/AIDS activist, and West Hollywood City Hall staffer lost his battle with HIV November 11 at age 45.
Ted Kennedy: U.S. senator from Massachusetts for 46 years, the advocate for LGBT equality and HIV funding died August 25 of brain cancer at age 77.
Mark Leduc: The gay Canadian boxer and silver medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic games died July 22 at age 47.
Rodger McFarlane: The first executive director of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the former head of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, McFarlane was a consummate HIV activist. He committed suicide May 15 at age 54.
Kevin McGee: The British television producer and former civil partner of Little Britain star Matt Lucas died, an apparent suicide, October 5 at age 32.
Mike Penner: The noted Los Angeles Times sports columnist, who announced his gender transition in 2007 and began using the byline Christine Daniels, died, apparently by suicide, November 27 at age 52.
Natasha Richardson: The star of screen and stage, also a dedicated supporter of the American Foundation for AIDS Research following her father Tony Richardson's death from AIDS-related causes in 1991, died March 18 at age 45.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick: The author of Epistemology of the Closet, hailed as a pioneer of queer studies, was finishing her latest article, "Proust and the Little Queer Gods," when she died April 12 at age 58.
Donn Teal: The noted activist who in 1971 wrote The Gay Militants, widely considered the first history of the gay liberation movement, died February 3 at age 76.
Jack Wrangler: The actor and eventual cabaret producer who was considered a superstar of '70s-era gay porn and surprised many with his decades-long relationship with singer Margaret Whiting died of complications from lung disease April 7 at age 62.