Clela Rorex, the first county clerk to knowingly issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, died June 19 at a hospice in Longmont, Colo., after complications from a recent surgery. She was clerk of Boulder County, Colo., in 1975 when she granted a marriage license to two men who had been denied one in their home county. (A clerk in Minnesota had issued a license to a same-sex couple in 1971 but was under the impression they were a male-female couple.) Rorex granted licenses to six same-sex couples before the Colorado attorney general stopped her. A straight woman, she became a strong LGBTQ+ ally and worked extensively with Out Boulder County and other activist groups.
Hunter Reynolds, a gay artist who appeared in elaborate gowns of his own design to raise awareness of HIV and fight homophobia, died July 12 at his Manhattan home of squamous cell carcinoma. He was 62. He began appearing as an alter ego named Patina du Prey around New York City in the late 1980s, shortly after he was diagnosed with HIV. One of his greatest creations was a gown inscribed with the names of 25,000 people who had died of AIDS complications, which he first wore at a Boston gallery in 1993. Reynolds created other types of art as well and was involved in ACT UP. He received numerous honors, including a Guggenheim fellowship.
Jeffrey Escoffier, a longtime activist, author of works on gay identity, and creator of public health campaigns, died May 20 in Brooklyn, N.Y., at age 79, of complications from a fall. In the 1970s, he became president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Gay Activists Alliance and founded its publication, The Gay Alternative. He later founded Out/Look: National Lesbian and Gay Quarterly, which ran the OutWrite conference for LGBTQ+ writers. He wrote many essays, some of which were collected in books, and in the 1990s he joined New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where he oversaw advertising campaigns on a variety of health issues, including HIV, asthma, smoking, and West Nile virus.
Adult film star Jason Pacheco, who performed under the name Randy for the Sean Cody gay-porn studio, died July 9 at age 33 in Springfield, Mass. He had posted a few days earlier on GoFundMe that he was suffering from kidney failure. Pacheco identified as straight but prided himself on giving his all for his fans. "I'm just grateful for the opportunity to do this and grateful for all the fans that I have," he told website Str8Up in 2018.
DJ D Baby
DJ D Baby, stage name of Darian Lewis, died July 13 after having fallen from a high-rise apartment building in Houston nine days earlier. She was 23. She fell from a balcony at her girlfriend Nishia Jackson's apartment on the 13th floor to a pool deck on the ninth floor. Police say her death was accidental. She was a rising star in her field, notes the Houston Chronicle, having DJ'd at recent Pride festivities in Dallas and Miami as well as events for MAC Cosmetics and jewelry designer Kendra Scott.
This story is part of The Advocate's 2022 History issue, which is out on newsstands August 30. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe -- or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.