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