Rick Rosendall

Rick Rosendall Pioneers Portrait

Rick Rosendall is a native Washingtonian. 
Photo © Patsy Lynch

“While I would like to be liked, I would rather be respected than loved and when you are something of a firebrand ... when you are the one who does speak up and who does insist on having a gay rights debate on his Catholic campus, when you put yourself out there, you are going to take some slings and arrows and you have to be kind of tough about it, you have to have some self-confidence."

“This is an oasis we have created in a hostile world, and we must appreciate what we have as we work to improve and increase it. A key part of that work is focus — choosing our battles and sticking with them.”

Rick Rosendall has advanced the cause of equality for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders in Washington, D.C.  Through more than three decades of civil rights activism, through his incisive writing on a wide range of topics affecting the community, and through his many years of work with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, he has had a wide-ranging effect on the city and its gay community. 

Rick’s first foray into gay activism was as Treasurer of the Villanova Political Union in 1978, when he out-maneuvered a conservative dean at Villanova University to bring Frank Kameny to campus for a debate on gay rights. Rick first attended a meeting of D.C.’s Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) in 1979, at a time when GAA was in the midst of a campaign to place educational “Someone in your life is gay” posters on Metrobuses and GAA’s president was Mel Boozer, who the following year spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

In 1981, after a brief stint as GAA secretary, Rick became a co-founder of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (GMCW), which took most of his energies through the late 1980s.  He served the chorus in a variety of capacities, including leading its public relations from 1985 to 1996 and launching its website.  Enthusiasm for choral activities led to his involvement with the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, whose first five festivals he attended.  He represented GALA Choruses at the 1993 and 1994 world conferences of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.  He produced performances by the male vocal group The Flirtations in 1991 as a benefit for the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League.

Rick returned to regular involvement with GLAA in 1988.  He served as GLAA president for three consecutive terms from 1996 to 1999.  During those years, GLAA fought to apply the D.C. Human Rights Act to the Boy Scouts of America and against harassment of gay businesses by the city’s regulators.  Rick worked with the NAACP and ACLU to re-establish a Police Complaints Board, and worked publicly and behind the scenes for justice in the Tyra Hunter case.  He continues to be a proponent of transgender issues in the city.  In 1997 and 1998 he served on the citizen’s advisory committee for a new chief of police.  He has been GLAA’s webmaster since 1996, and became the principal blogger for the new GLAA Forum in June 2009.  As GLAA’s current Vice President for Political Affairs, he has participated in strategizing for marriage equality.

Since retiring from singing with the Gay Men’s Chorus in 1999, Rick has devoted more time to writing.  His biweekly column appears in Metro Weekly and Boston’s Bay Windows.  He has written for Salonand is a contributor to the Independent Gay Forum.  He wrote and officiated at a gay wedding ceremony for friends in October 1994.  In 2008 he contributed several articles to the LGBT for Obama campaign website. He met his partner Patrick Amipi in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001.