Photo of Allen Roskoff

Allen Roskoff

President

Allen Roskoff is a legendary gay rights activist who has been a leader in the LGBT and social justice movements for over four decades. Roskoff achieved many early victories for the LGBT movement, including co-authoring the nation’s first gay rights bill.

Roskoff first became involved in the movement in 1970 when he joined the Gay Activist Alliance and became the chair of the Municipal Government Committee. Along with Jim Owles, he later co-founded the nation's first gay Democratic club. Roskoff has worked on hundreds of political campaigns going back to the congressional races of Bella Abzug. Later campaigns would include heading Lesbians and Gays for David Dinkins, Mario Cuomo, and in 1984 served as as New York State LGBT Co-Chair for Jesse Jackson for President.

Early in the 1970s, Roskoff disguised as himself as a psychiatrist and entered the Taxi and Limousine Commission with a couch demanding that the straight commissioner receive a psychiatric exam. Till that point, homosexual cab drivers had to produce a letter from a psychiatrist verifying that they were sane enough to drive a taxi. As a result of that demonstration the regulation was changed and no such letter was needed.

To protest regulations barring same sex couples from dancing together in an entity with a cabaret license, Roskoff went to the Rainbow Room with a male partner risking arrest. A few days later the Consumer Affairs Department changed regulations and gays were allowed to dance together. The New York Post ran an article entitled "Gays Win A Waltz."

In 1972 Roskoff helped organize a zap inside Radio City Music Hall for a ceremony put together by Mayor John Lindsay. The protest demanded an Executive Order barring discrimination within city government. Roskoff handcuffed himself to a chair in the theatre's balcony while demanding that Mayor Lindsay issue an Executive Order and showering the orchestra with leaflets. A few days after the protest, Lindsay issued an executive order.

Roskoff publicly questioned aspiring 1984 Presidential candidate Senator John Glenn about his refusal to support Federal Gay Rights legislation. His stunning public performance drew national attention to Glenn's anti-gay bigotry, resulting in the resignation of his New York State campaign coordinator, then New York State Senate Minority Leader Manfred Ohrenstein. Glenn's campaign shortly thereafter came to an end.

Roskoff was the first openly gay person appointed to a community board and also the first to serve in the offices of an elected official. In 1974, he joined the executive staff of the New York City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin. Subsequently, Roskoff would serve in the administrations of Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin, Governor Mario Cuomo, Mayor David Dinkins, New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, and New York State Senators Martin Connor, David Paterson and Tom Duane.

Roskoff has been featured, quoted and written about in major national and local publications including Look, Newsweek, Time, The New York Times, New York Post, The Daily News and The Advocate. He has written for gay publications such as The Native, QW, Outweek and The New York Blade on a regular basis, often providing front page coverage.

Roskoff has received awards from Parent and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, New York City Human Rights Commission, the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights and the Village Independent Democrats. He served as Grand Marshall of the Queens Pride Parade, was guest of honor at both Yale and Princeton's Gay Pride Ceremonies and received a proclamation from the City of West Hollywood.

In recent years, he has proudly worked for the mayoral campaigns of Mark Green, Anthony Weiner and Bill Thompson in their bids to defeat Michael Bloomberg. Roskoff believes it a sad evolution that some members of the LGBT community abandoned progressive principals and its ties to the progressive wing of Democratic Party by supporting Michael Bloomberg's campaigns for mayor.

Roskoff is most proud to have established the formation of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club bringing together dozens of prominent members of the LGBT community, straight allies, party and elected officials, and people from the performing arts. He believes that this organization has and will continue to elect progressive Democrats for local, city, state and national office.

Roskoff was partners with Jim Owles in the early 1970's when they shared their lives together and remained best friends. Jim Owles died of AIDS in 1993 while Roskoff held him as he quietly died in St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Officers

BOARD OF GOVERNORS

  1. Hon. Eric Adams
  2. Juan Antigua
  3. Stuart Appelbaum
  4. George Arzt
  5. Lance Bass
  6. Mark Benoit
  7. Hon. Jonathan Bing
  8. Andrew Brokman
  9. Robin Byrd
  10. Chris Brady
  11. Hon. Gale Brewer
  12. Christian Campbell
  13. Eduardo Castell
  14. David Castleman
  15. Louis Cholden-Brown
  16. Michael Colosi
  17. Hon. Marty Connor
  18. Debra Cooper
  19. Hon. Jon Cooper
  20. Hon. Laurie Cumbo
  21. Alan Cumming
  22. Wilson Cruz
  23. Jim Davis
  24. Hon. Bill de Blasio
  25. Jon Del Giorno
  26. Kyan Douglas
  27. Hon. Daniel Dromm
  28. James Duff
  29. Hon. Ronnie Eldridge
  30. Kathryn Erbe
  31. Hon. Herman Farrell
  32. Hon. Alan Fleishman
  33. Hon. Dan Garodnick
  34. Hon. Michael Gianaris
  35. Ari Gold
  36. Hon. Richard Gottfried
  37. Hon. Mark Green
  38. Arthur Greig
  39. Tony Hoffmann
  40. Hon. Brad Hoylman
  41. Hon. Letitia James
  42. Brian Jenks
  43. Hon. Corey Johnson
  44. Phillip Keane
  45. Paul Kelterborn
  46. Yetta Kurland
  47. Greg Lambert
  48. Marc Landis
  49. Dodge Landesman
  50. Hon. John Liu
  51. Michael Mallon
  52. Mike C. Manning
  53. Cathy Marino-Thomas
  54. Lisa Mehos
  55. Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito
  56. Hon. Carlos Menchaca
  57. Hon. Rosie Mendez
  58. Alex Meskouris
  59. John Cameron Mitchell
  60. Donny Moss
  61. Hon. Paul Newell
  62. Jason Otano
  63. Hon. Chris Owens
  64. Hon. Jose Peralta
  65. Noah Pfefferbilt
  66. Bob Pontarelli
  67. Joe Pressley
  68. Nathan Riley
  69. Hon. Gustavo Rivera
  70. Hon. Helen Rosenthal
  71. Maer Roshan
  72. Dan Roskoff
  73. Toby Russo
  74. James Sansum
  75. Scott Sartiano
  76. Reshma Saujani
  77. Hon. Diane Savino
  78. Hon. Arthur Schwartz
  79. Lynn Schulman
  80. Cecile Scott
  81. Frank Selvaggi
  82. Rev. Al Sharpton
  83. Hon. Jo Anne Simon
  84. Tom Smith
  85. David Spegal
  86. Anne Strahle
  87. Hon. Scott Stringer
  88. David Suárez
  89. Wayne Sunday
  90. Hon. Bill Thompson
  91. Hon. Matt Titone
  92. Hon. Ritchie Torres
  93. Jesse Vargas
  94. Andrew Velez
  95. Patricia Nell Warren
  96. Wil Weder
  97. Seth Weissman
  98. Emma Wolfe
  99. Hon. Keith Wright
  100. Mel Wymore