"About a year or two after I got to know Dick, he said he had something he wanted me to know: Over the course of a couple of years, he had been lovers with Ed Koch, and after they broke up, Ed had made it impossible for him to work in New York. No instance of homophobia hurt him more than the treatment by the man he was in love with ... Dick was worried about his safety. And Dick did feel that if he went public, he would suffer."
Andy Humm's detailed piece on Koch in Gay City News shows how Koch moved away from gay rights as he courted a larger constituency and sought higher political office. Yes, as a New York congressman for a district in Manhattan, he championed a federal gay rights bill, and, yes, he promised a city gay rights bill within the first six months of his first election as mayor in 1977. But it would be years before such a bill passed, as Koch began to bow to religious leaders' resistance, setting his eyes on the governorship (an effort that ultimately failed) and distancing himself from gays. Koch moved so far to the right that he was seen as the conservative alternative to Mario Cuomo, the liberal, in the Democratic gubernatorial primary of 1982.
Needle exchange for injecting drug users was assiduously resisted by the Koch administration, leading to thousands of unnecessary HIV infections. Even Britain under conservative Maggie Thatcher embraced needle exchange early on and virtually contained that end of the epidemic. And public education commenced there almost immediately, with an informational brochure to every household about what was known.
Hospital overcrowding was so acute in New York in the mid to late '80s due to the decommissioning of beds that people with AIDS were often consigned to gurneys in hallways rather than getting the care they needed. Many people with HIV-related illnesses were shunned in city hospitals, their food left at the door by fearful health care workers.