(1946 - 1993) U.S.A.
Robert Rafsky was a gay activist and Act Up NY member. Born in New York City, he graduated from Harvard in 1968. He worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs, then became director of public affairs for the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. He returned to New York City as a spokesman for the State Urban Development Corporation. His marriage ended in divorce in 1985.
Mr. Rafsky was a senior vice president of Howard J. Rubenstein & Associates, the New York City public relations firm, from 1982 to 1989. He left to devote full time to helping Act Up, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, become the nation's most prominent AIDS protest group. Sought Faster Drug Approval As Act Up's media coordinator in New York, he helped to focus attention on the AIDS epidemic. And as a member of Act Up's treatment action group, he was active in efforts to speed up Federal approval of AIDS drugs, and helped persuade drug manufacturers to reduce prices and improve distribution.
A member of Act Up since 1987, Mr. Rafsky was arrested several times for civil disobedience at demonstrations.
During a Democratic fund-raiser in midtown Manhattan on March 26, Mr. Rafsky challenged Mr. Clinton to define his AIDS policies. "What are you going to do about AIDS? We're dying!" Mr. Rafsky said in the televised exchange.
"That's why I'm running for President, to do something about it," Mr. Clinton responded. Subsequently, Mr. Clinton solicited the help of leading AIDS advocates to draft a specific AIDS agenda that he said he would carry out as president. Writing of AIDS Struggle Mr. Rafsky recounted his struggle with AIDS in an article on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times in April. "There's not much to do except to keep fighting the epidemic, and those whose actions or inactions prolong it, until I get too sick to fight," he wrote. "I'll try to die a good death, if I can figure out what one is."
At the time of his death, he was writing an autobiography about his work as an AIDS activist tentatively titled, "A Letter to Sara," a reference to his daughter. When he died he was 47 and lived in Brooklyn. The cause of death was AIDS-related illness.