Bob Bland, an original member of the New York Gay Liberation Front, died earlier this month of cancer. He was 64.
Bland, a native of North Carolina, was a lifelong Democratic activist whose passion for politics was sparked when he was a teen.
He served as the president of his high school’s Young Democrats and later in the Youth Democrats at Rice University.
He joined with other young LGBTs in the 1970s to launch the New York GLF and lent his time to the organization’s publication “Gay Flames” before returning to his home state and founding North Carolina’s first LGBT agency, Triangle Gay Alliance.
Throughout his career, Bland worked on President Jimmy Carter’s campaign, as a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, as development director of the Union of Concerned Scientists and as the director of individual support for the Student Conservation Association.
An outdoors enthusiast, Bland founded the Boston-Provincetown Bicycle, an event still popular with the LGBT community.
Bland lived in Vermont from 1990 until a few years ago, during which time he was elected as a town auditor, Democratic Chair of Orange County and the party’s state treasurer, and took an active role in the effort to legalize civil unions in that state in 2000.
In 2007, he moved to Arizona, where he served as the chair of the Cochise County Democratic Party, on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Brisbee and, most recently, elected chair of chairs of the Arizona State Democratic Party.
Two years ago, he was one of several original GLF members who participated in the group’s 40th anniversary celebration in San Francisco.
“Bob Bland was one of those Gay Liberation Front activists who helped get us where we are today,” said member Allen Young. “There was nothing he liked more than fighting for LGBT rights and Democratic Party principles. He is sadly missed.”
Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].