Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Howard Brown

Born in Peoria, Illinois, Brown came of age in the decades when it was almost impossible to be openly gay and have any kind of professional career. Becoming a doctor, he moved to New York City and pursued work in public health. His success in establishing health centers in working-class and poor neighborhoods led to his being appointed chief medical adviser in President Lyndon Johnson’s Office of Economic Opportunity in 1964 and, in 1966, being chosen by Mayor John Lindsay to be New York City’s first Health Services Administrator. In December 1967, with rumors circulating that a reporter intended to expose him as homosexual, Brown abruptly resigned. Continuing to work in the field of health, he began making contact with gay activists like Martin Duberman and Bruce Voeller in New York, in the years after the Stonewall Riots. On October 3, 1973, he came out publicly at a conference of health care professionals, and the New York Times made it a front-page news story. Brown was a founding board member of the National Gay Task Force in 1973. He died suddenly of a heart attack on February 1, 1975.