Igal Roodenko, pacifist and boy-lover, dies at 74

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Igal Roodenko, former chairman of the War Resisters League and boy-lover, died in New York on April 28th. Even at 74 years of age, he remained vigorous both as one of the world's most prominent pacifists and as an indefatigable lover of young men and boys.

Every year Igal stumped for peace and love in lecture tours that took him to virtually every college campus and every state of the union, as well as to remote corners of the globe. He probably made more converts to pacifism than any other single individual by his Socratic, often dramatic, teaching method. Intense conversations about human nature, the sources of oppression and war, and about love often went late into the night with clusters of young disciples, many of whom became life-long searchers for peace and justice. Just as often the dialogue would continue with a particular youth even later into the night, climaxing in bed together. Quite a few of these young men - ranging in age from their early teens into the 20s - would later live with Igal or tour with him for several months. Throughout the half century of his work there must have been several hundred at least. He was fond of saying that heterosexual married couples and homosexual lovers "have their diamond rings, but we have a magnificent string of pearls" representing brief, but deep relationships.

Igal was born and lived most of his life in New York. For the last 40 years he lived in the same incredibly cheap and grimy walk-up in the lower Village. He was chairman of the War Resisters League from 1968 to 1972 and continued to work in their office until he died. He was trained as a printer and worked in that trade until 1970, printing the well-known WRL peace calendars as well as work for many other radical groups.

During WorldWarII, Igal spent nearly two years in prison as a conscientious objector, and was arrested hundreds of times for peace and civil-rights actions. He worked closely with the well-known black activist Bayard Rustin, also a boy-lover, who was arrested for sex with a boy and shunned by many leftists, but openly supported by Roodenko. Roodenko was openly gay in the peace movement before Stonewall and later told many of his colleagues of his support for NAMBLA, a stance that was not popular even in some circles of the League. One of his most recent causes had been Men of All Colors Together, a gay group supportive of interracial relationships. Through the years he was a role model for many activist boy-lovers - and he is survived by that throng and by all those pearls of youth he nurtured.

source: Article 'Igal Roodenko, Pacifist and Boy-lover, Dies at 74' by Tom Reeves; Nambla Bulletin, Vol. 12, No. 7; September 1991