Rodger McFarlane: Broadway marquees dimmed in tribute to former executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

Broadway marquees will be dimmed for one minute, starting at 8pm, on 19 May 2009 as a tribute to Rodger McFarlane who died on 15 May 2009 at 54 years old.

McFarlane committed suicide in the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. He left a note citing back and heart problems that limited his ability to work and travel.

Roger McFarlane was the executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS from 1989 to 1994, and contributed to making the organisation the influential fundraiser and Broadway institution that it is today.

A leading Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Rights activist, McFarlane was one of the first people in the Gay community to respond to the AIDS crisis. In 1981 he set up the very first HIV/Aids Hotline, using his own phone. He was an early volunteer for the Gay Men's Health Crisis and was the first paid executive director of the charity, helping to establish it as the nation's largest provider of AIDS client services and public education programs.

He was a founding member of ACT UP - NY, a political protest group that succesfully demanded that the healh needs of the Gay community be taking seriously in public policy. As a result of the group's activities radical changes were made in public policy's treatment of drug users, HIV/Aids awareness programmes and health delivery processes.

McFarlane co-authored several books, including Larry Kramer's "The Tragedy of Today's Gays" (Penguin, 2005) and co-produced the Kramer's play 'The Destiny of Me.' (1993).

"Rodger was a very great man," Larry Kramer said on 18 May 2009. "He did more for the gay world than any person has ever done. His loss to us all is inestimable. He was also my best friend. And his loss to me is inestimable too. It is hard for me to understand why he did it this way, but in true Rodger fashion he did what he wanted to do, which is how he lived his whole life, true to what he felt he had to do. People like Rodger don't come around very often. I don't think the gay world knew or knows how great he was and how much he did for us and how much we need him still and how much we will miss him."