Bruce Friedman, long-time LGBT activist and former president of the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens, died this past Monday at Mt. Sinai Hospital after a long battle with leukemia. He was 70 years old.
“Bruce’s leadership of the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens was pioneering,” said City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), who founded the club nearly 25 years ago in order to give the LGBT community a voice in the Queens political sphere.
“He tirelessly fought for LGBT rights at a time when it was not popular to do so. Bruce’s work led to the election of numerous LGBT-supportive public officials around the Borough of Queens. His knowledge of and love for American history and politics gave him an innate ability to vet local candidates. His contributions to the LGBT movement in Queens are numerous. His strength and spirit will be sorely missed by LGBT and non-LGBT people alike. God bless Bruce Friedman,” he added.
Friedman was born and raised in the Bronx, in a middle class progressive Jewish family. At an early age, community and political service was instilled in him by example through his devoted parents. He quickly learned that giving of oneself through volunteerism was a natural way of life if you want to have an impact on an organization. This concept of participation carried over into the political arena.
Friedman graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1966. Next for him came attendance at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Delaware. There he was elected and served as sophomore class president, followed by his election as vice president of the student government. While attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice CUNY he served as program director of the John Jay College Law Club. He graduated in 1990 with a BA in Government.
Friedman demonstrated from an early age a keen and uncanny interest in politics and the United States presidency. From his adolescence up until recent years he volunteered to work on many political campaigns for both local and federal elected office. In 1975, a college friend introduced him to members of the LGBT synagogue of New York, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST). He was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1976. He was re-elected to the board seven more times for a total of fourteen years of devoted service. Many of his long time friendships were forged at that synagogue.
Before becoming involved in Queen’s politics as a major player, Friedman served as an elected vice president of the Village Independent Democrats in Manhattan. Prior to that election, one of Friedman’s local political heroes and mentors, the late community activist and openly gay democratic district leader from Greenwich Village, Arthur W. Strickler introduced Friedman at political dinners, meetings, parades and other events to many politicians.
Friedman became a Queen’s resident in 1984. When he arrived at the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens in 1997 through another college colleague and club member, he was immediately elected as club treasurer to fill a vacancy. He served as treasurer for three years until 2001 when he was elected executive vice president serving until 2004. He was then elected as president, serving until January 2012 when he was elected to serve as the club’s vice president.
Friedman is survived by his sister, Margot Johnson, of The Villages, Florida.
Funeral and burial arrangements are forthcoming.