You are here: Home / News / The Passing of a GLBT Hero

The Passing of a GLBT Hero

On Sunday November 9th, while the California GLBT community was marching and protesting the passage of Prop 8, a fighter and hero for the GLBT community had died. Hank Wilson, an activist since the early 70’s, has passed.

Wilson is known as a champion for the GLBT community, for people with HIV/AIDS, and a thorn in establishments sides. He dedicated his life to preventing the spread of AIDS.

hankwilsonPushing lawmakers to acknowledge and fight the AIDS Epidemic. Stopping hate in it’s tracks. Warning and educating people on the dangers of “poppers”. Never has there been such an activist for gay men’s health and freedom.

Many young people aren’t that familiar with his efforts, which is an shameful thing. You should know his works. He fought against the “Briggs Initiative”. Which was an effort to ban gays and lesbians from teaching in schools. He fought and rallied the community to force the SF Board of Education to add Sexual Orientation to the district’s nondiscrimination policy.

He spent years advocating for the prevention of HIV/AIDS. Getting federal and state funding to researchers and community groups. At the beginning of the epidemic leaders and lawmakers wouldn’t even talk publicly about AIDS let alone push for funding. But Wilson used rallies and marches to get them talking and most importantly funding the fight.



We, as a community, owe a lot to this legend. He was our friend, our brother and our hero.

Official statement of passing:

Henry “Hank” Wilson, who for more than 30 years has been a leader of both the Queer Liberation and AIDS Communities, died peacefully at 4 P.M. Sunday November 9th in Davies Hospital. A long-term HIV/AIDS survivor and “Thriver” he succumbed to Lung Cancer. I had seen him in the hour before; Hank was under sedation and was sleeping deeply, so I did not wake him. I am thankful that his passing was so gentle. I will post more as information becomes available.

Remembering one of my heroes,

Rodger Brooks

What others are saying:
The death of a consummate gay men’s health activist By Chris Bartlett
Hank Wilson, Longtime Gay AIDS Survivor, Has Died By Michael Petrelis

One more thing.

How will you remember and honor Hank Wilson? Will you continue his work? Will you be more than just a voice for change?

Comments are open

About Bad Evan

I am the one and only...Bad Evan.


  1. Heh Evan! Thanks for this great post and for the cross-post to mine.

    I think you raise a very important point- that new generations of LGBT people often don’t know and aren’t taught their history. So we need to take that on, and your blogging is part of that. Maybe you and I can brainstorm some additional ways to bring gay history to all of the young queers on the web.

  2. Hey Chris,

    Thank you for your comment and your passionate chronicle of Hank Wilson’s dedication to gay men’s health and equality for the GLBT civil rights movement.

    I would love to work with you on educating the queer youth. I think we could reach them and inform them of those that have come before them. This could only be good. By knowing the struggles, loses and victories that we have endured over the past 100yrs…they will have a better understanding of who they are. Making them that much more passionate about the fight.

    One way we can start…getting Hank Wilson a page on Wikipedia. I was shocked to see he wasn’t listed. Nor are many of the other great early fighters for our civil rights. How we have let this happen is beyond me…

  3. hi,

    thanks for remembering my friend and a true giant of the gay and aids movements in america. we won’t see the likes of hank wilson for a long time. he was a true original and will be sorely missed by many.

  4. I thought that this was also a good piece. He sounds like he was a true hero and a great person to look up to. I bet that there are many out there that wished they had his courage. I know I do, but most of my courage comes from my stupidity.

    Oh, *cough* Mr. Literate Nazi *cough cough*… I mean Bubby… I caught two spelling errors.
    I’ll let it slide this time. You’ve been working super hard and running on virtually no sleep.
    I’m glad that you are so passionate about this and the protest that you are still able to maintain (for the most part) and keep things together. I might not be right there next to you on Saturday, mostly because of the blow horn that I heard you talking about, but I will be there.

Scroll To Top