The college community was devastated by the news that longtime English professor and LGBTQ advocate David McKay suffered a stroke earlier this September. McKay is on indefinite leave while he recovers.
Born in Florida, David McKay moved to New York in 1979 to attend NYU. He only spent one year there before dropping out, but he stuck around in New York to became involved in Manhattan’s thriving gay scene, and then with the nascent AIDS activist movement. In 1989 he enrolled in Brooklyn College hoping to get a Bachelors in English. He graduated in 1993, and has taught at BC for nearly two decades.
In addition to his work as a professor, McKay was a key figure in advancing LGBTQ causes at Brooklyn and beyond. In addition to his AIDS activism, McKay was heavily involved with the creation of Queer Studies programs across CUNY, including at BC. While at Brooklyn College, he was one of the most prominent LGBTQ faculty, and served as a mentor for students and faculty alike, including as the faculty adviser for the college’s LGBT Alliance club.
“During my very brief time of knowing David, I have considered him to be the to-go-person for any LGBTQ related information, guidance and support for students,” wrote Hasan Ozcan, Director of BC’s Preparatory Center for the Performing Arts.
McKay was also a pivotal figure in the creation of the LGBTQ Resource Center in 219 Student Center, where he’s served as director since its opening in 2014. Senior Assistant to the Director Sami Binder, who works under McKay at the Center, says that McKay’s importance cannot be underrated.
“Without him working on it beforehand, the center literally would not exist,” Binder said of McKay. “It would not be what it is without him. He dedicates a lot of unpaid time to the Center and to the Alliance and to the students.”
Under McKay’s leadership, the Center and the Alliance have thrived. According to Binder, fifty students showed up to the Center’s first event of the semester on Tuesday, Sept. 10, many of them new faces, and all wishing McKay the best.
“Even the new students have heard about Professor McKay and who he is and what he’s done for the Center,” said Binder. “They ask how he’s doing and they don’t even know him.”
McKay and his partner Buddy have asked for space during the coming weeks while he recuperates, but are posting weekly updates on his recovery on the website CaringBridge. Wellwishers and anyone looking to make a donation towards his recovery are encouraged to visit caringbridge.org/visit/davidpmckay.