Monday, July 27, 2009

Robert Hilferty, ACT UP Member, Filmmaker
and Critic, Has Died
(From the left: Robert Hilferty, Fabio Toblini, Aleba Gartner, and Phil Kline.)

[Updates are below, and remembrances from Ira Sachs and Maria Maggenti are in the comments.]

Very sad report from longtime gay and HIV activist veteran Jay Blotcher this afternoon. We've lost another brother - Robert Hilferty.
My cherished comrades:

An ACT UP comrade has fallen.

On July 24, 2009, our friend and colleague Robert Hilferty, died suddenly. I just learned of this a few hours ago.

Robert was a filmmaker (the documentary Stop the Church about the ACT UP 1989 demo at St. Patrick's) and longtime film critic; he was erudite, delightful, pugnacious and wistful. Farewell!

Comrades... This is the original info I received this afternoon and, sadly, I know nothing more:

From: Aleba Gartner []
Sent: Monday, July 27, 2009 2:09 PM
To: Aleba Gartner
Subject: Robert Hilferty 1959-2009

On July 24, 2009, our friend and colleague Robert Hilferty, died suddenly. Our shock and sadness are almost beyond words. He was a remarkably buoyant and brilliant man—and for many of us, a wonderful loving friend. It’s hard to accept this loss, but we are comforted by the many memories of his wit, boundless supply of opinions, and beautiful smile.

Condolences may be sent to
Fabio Toblini
411 East 6th St., Apt 2C,
New York, NY 10009

Love to all of you...

Jay Blotcher
Of course, I knew Robert and appear in his movie about ACT UP's infamous action inside St. Patrick's cathedral in 1989, and I'm sorry to read of his passing. He fought the good fight. May he rest in peace.


From Jay Blotcher:

My cherished comrades:

Sometimes in lifeyou seek the truth and are even more saddened by what you learn.

Robert's lover and widower Fabio Toblini sent me the following message this evening:

> From: "F.T." <>
> Date: July 27, 2009 11:11:43 PM EDT
> To:
> Subject: Hi Jay
> Aleba forwarded me your e-mail.
> Robert was hit on the head by the door of the trunk of a cab in > Savannah GA earlier this year. The injury caused a variety of post > concussion symptoms that worsened in the following months. He > hastily decided to end his suffering in a moment of extreme anxiety.
> I was with him until the last seconds of his life.
> I am in disbelief myself.
> Fabio
And Jay also sent this along:

> From: Conyers Thompson <>
> Date: July 28, 2009 12:12:55 AM EDT
> To: Fay Blotcher <>
> Subject: FW: Robert
> Jim Wagner sent this link, which maybe you've by now seen:
> > From:
> > To:
> > Subject: Robert
> > Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2009 23:55:12 -0400
> >
> > lovely to see him so happy:
> >
> >


Ira Sachs said...

Thank you, Jay for posting this, and for the contact info for Fabio. Very, very sad. What a loss, and Robert will be missed.


mimi337 said...

Michael and all lovers -- Maria Maggenti here, very sad to hear of Robert's sudden demise. How incredibly awful -- we are lucky we have his work and to have known him.

Unknown said...

hi ira and maria,

so nice to hear from you guys, at this very sad time. the only good thing, right now, i see from robert's passing is all the outpouring of love and respect for him.

thanks for sharing your thoughts on robert.

Daryl Chin said...

Robert was one of the most vital and engaged gay men; he was active in so many ways, as a political activist, as an artist, and as an advocate. His writings were always incisive and witty. His film STOP THE CHURCH remains a classic amongst activist works in the ACT-UP era.

I am so saddened to learn of his loss, as he was someone who had so much more to contribute. My condolences to Fabio, his beloved partner.

Norman Ryan said...

I am so saddened and shocked to learn of Robert's passing. His great energy, knowing smile, and gorgeous spirit will live on in my memory as well as all the good times spent together at music festivals in Santa Fe, Ojai and on the streets and in the concert halls of NYC. A terrible loss. We will miss him so very much.

Fergal said...

Robert will be remembered by those at Saint Patrick's that day and at ACT UP meetings in Cooper Union.

What a great loss. My condolences, Fabio,
Fergal O'Doherty

tallandark said...

I can't quite fathom it. His was an endlessly curious, complexly thoughtful intellect. Always playful in the most fervent clash of ideas. My thoughts are with you, Fabio. I know you were his dearest treasure. He always said so.

mj said...

I am shocked and saddened beyond words by this terrible news! What a courageous man Robert Hilferty was! To his companion and life partner, I extend my very deepest sympathies. I share your sorrow and grief.

Robert Hilferty said...

Robert was my son. I am devasted by his loss. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Robert had 4 sisters and 1 half sister, Alicia, who spent social time with Robert in NYC. Robert also had 2 brothers, one being a half brother.
I will miss my loving son forever.

Anonymous said...

I got to know Robert at one of his stays in Vienna in Fall 03. He was a force of nature, so full of life and a real bon vivant. Anybody who ever saw him dance like a dervish won't forget it. Over the years we stayed in touch and met around the world. I loved to read his stories, interviews and articles and was always in awe about his travel adventures. I am so glad he traveled and lived to the fullest as life can be over in a second. My love goes out to his loving partner Fabio and his family and friends - Tom

Anonymous said...

Yes I spent a lot of time with Robert in NYC and have had a hard time being able to get to this point to write on this page. I always felt he was the strong one and I admired him so damn much. I am so glad to have known him and I feel him around me every day. I love him and I am glad I got the chance to tell him. This is alicia his half sister. Please anyone reach out to me and chat I am at Fabio I love you soooo much and will see you soon. xoxo and Robert this is not goodbye this is see you later ok......xoxoxo