|Brent before opening ceremony |
of Gay Games III
Brent Nicholson Earle, who had been born in the Falls and grew up in Lockport, was a gay off-Broadway actor and playwright in New York who saw 70 friends and acquaintances die of AIDS. In March 1986, he set out on a 9,000-mile run around the perimeter of the United States to draw attention to the epidemic. It took him 20 months and he drew a lot of publicity. All over the country he got police escorts into towns and cities, but when he reached Lockport, the police refused. “Why?” he wondered. “Oh, I think it has to do with bigotry and prejudice against gay people.” But then as he set out down Transit Road into Lockport, then-Mayor Raymond C. Betsch and his son suddenly showed up and escorted him in. At City Hall, old childhood friends were waiting to cheer him, and the mayor issued a proclamation.
Earle, who learned in 1989 that he was HIV-positive, went on in 1990 to run from San Francisco to the Gay Games in Vancouver, and in 1994 from San Francisco to the Gay Games in New York. He’s been profiled in Parade magazine, and was named by People magazine as one of “20 individuals who shaped the ’80s.”
Today at age 60, he lives in New York and remains an AIDS activist.
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