December 15, 2009
Dennis deLeon Mourned
by POZ Staff
Dennis deLeon, longtime AIDS advocate and president of the Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA), died from heart failure on December 14, 2009. He was 61.
| AIDS activist Dennis deLeon
Prior to LCOA, deLeon was the human rights commissioner for New York City. For more information about deLeon’s life and details on the vigil and funeral, click here.
The following are reactions to deLeon’s passing from the HIV/AIDS community:
“Dennis’ impact on the HIV epidemic will be felt for years and generations to come. Throughout his career and as president of the Commission he maintained that all communities of color needed to work together to address not only the disease, but injustices that made our communities more vulnerable. His passing is cause for great sadness, but his life and legacy are a cause for celebration. He has touched millions of lives and made a tremendous difference in the world.”
- Ruben Medina
Board Chair, Latino Commission on AIDS
“It will be a challenge to pick up the mantle Dennis has left for us at the Commission. Dennis was a friend, a mentor and an example of what a national leader should be. He is a testament to the human spirit and the power of perseverance. His work and his dedication to our community will not be forgotten.”
- Guillermo Chacon
President, Latino Commission on AIDS
“Dennis was a force to be reckoned with. If there was a social justice issue that needed to be addressed you knew you wanted Dennis on your side. His work and his voice were respected nationwide and there was no greater champion for Latinos living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. He will be greatly missed.”
- Ernesto Loperena
Former Board Chair, Latino Commission on AIDS
“Dennis was an outspoken leader in the AIDS community, not only in New York, but around the nation, in particular advocating for Latino inclusion and the development of strategies that would address the disproportionate rates of HIV infection among Latinos throughout the country. His efforts led to the first Latino National AIDS Agenda that was released two years ago. Housing Works will always be in his debt for the leadership he provided in our early years, when we never had enough money but always believed we could do anything we dreamed. [From 1990 to 1996, deLeon served as cochair and then chair of Housing Works board of directors.]”
- Charles King
President and CEO, Housing Works
“DeLeon was a tireless advocate for the rights, health, dignity and well being of people living with HIV … DeLeon recognized that an effective AIDS response is not possible without a strong commitment to the human rights of people living with, and affected by, HIV … While his passion and intelligence will be sorely missed, they will continue to inspire us to redouble our efforts to achieve his dream of a more just and equitable world – a world without AIDS.”
- Statement from the Black AIDS Institute
“Dennis will be greatly missed by me and the rest of the AIDS community. He was a tremendous person and an absolutely fearless champion of people living with HIV/AIDS. He taught an entire generation of AIDS leaders the importance of speaking truth to power, whether in a small city or on Capitol Hill.”
- Paul Kawata
Executive Director, National Minority AIDS Council
"PLWHA in Puerto Rico will be forever in debt to you Dennis, we love you, and will never forget how you championed our plight, RIP"
- Anselmo Fonseca
Cofounder, Pacientes de SIDA Pro Politica (Puerto Rico)
“His passing is a huge loss for the AIDS and civil liberties movements. It also is a milestone, as he was one of the dwindling few activists from the early years of the epidemic still fighting it full-time … Beyond his AIDS activism, Dennis and his longtime partner, Bruce Kiernan, were role models, mentors and confidants for a wide circle of friends, myself included … Dennis touched innumerable lives. His legacy is one that will continue to impact people and to which every activist ought to aspire. My thoughts and prayers are with Bruce and their family.”
- Sean Strub
To read a memorial of deLeon by POZ founder Sean Strub, click here.
Search: Dennis deLeon, Latino Commission on AIDS
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