Bruce Voeller



Bruce Raymond Voeller (May 12, 1934 – February 13, 1994)- was a biologist and researcher, primarily in the study of AIDS. Voeller was born in Minneapolis. When he was at school, he was assured by a school counselor that he was not homosexual, even though he had felt such feelings very early on.

Voeller graduated with a bachelor's degree from Reed College in 1956, and after winning a five year fellowship to the Rockefeller Institute, he gained a Ph.D. in biology in 1961. He eventually worked his way up to the position of associate professor in 1966 at the institute. He wrote four books while at the institute, as well as editing others' work, and writing numerous papers and articles. He married Kytja Scott Voeller, whom he met at graduate school, and they had three children.

He came out at the age of 29 and divorced from his wife in 1971. After becoming president of the New York Gay Activists Alliance, he decided it was not wide enough in its coverage. Therefore, with some friends, he founded National Gay Task Force in October 1973, of which he was the director until 1978. The Task Force established affiliation with more than 2000 gay groups, and by 1978 had over 10,000 members. He also founded the Mariposa Foundation, which specializes in sex research, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Before the 1980s, AIDS was known by various names, including GRIDD (Gay Related Immune Defense Disorder). Since this term was inaccurate, Voeller coined the term Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. His partner was Richard Lucik, who was also his associate at Mariposa. Voeller died in 1994 of an AIDS related illness in California, at the age of 59.