Robert Eichberg



     

Robert Eichberg, (1945-1995) Robert Eichberg was born in Brooklyn but lived most of his life in Los Angeles. His activism began more than two decades ago, with the founding of a political action committee in Los Angeles for the rights of gay men, lesbians and women. He moved to New Mexico in 1988, the same year he and Jean O'Leary of Los Angeles founded National Coming Out Day.  It is observed annually on Oct. 11.


He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and earned a doctorate in psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles.  Eichberg help create the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles, the first gay and lesbian political action committee in the United States, and a model for the Human Rights Campaign Fund. He also launched The Experience,, with the late David Goodstein, which are a series of personal growth workshops. At that time in the mid 90’s there were over thirty thousand graduates. The program still thrives in Santa Fe.


In 1990, a book by Dr. Eichberg, "Coming Out: an Act of Love," was published by E. P. Dutton & Company. It was written for BOTH men and women. The book is a step by step guide to understanding and accepting your homosexuality and dealing with others’ reactions to it. Eichberg's book, "Coming Out: an Act of Love," has become required reading for friends and family of gays and lesbians, said Lynn Shepodd, president of the Santa Fe Lesbian, Gay and Bi Pride Committee."If you care to have any relationship with gay people, his book is essential," Shepodd said. "It accurately describes the process that gay and lesbian people go through in their coming out."His whole life's work was about bridging the gap between gay and non-gay communities, allowing people to discover who they are and really encouraging them to go out and do something with that knowledge," she said.In an interview in 1993, Dr. Eichberg said: "Most people think they don't know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes."  


Dr. Eichberg died of complications from AIDS, on August 15th 1995 at his home in Tesuque, about 10 miles north of Santa Fe. He was 50.  In addition to his mother, Shirley Greene of Sherman Oaks Ca., Dr. Eichberg is survived by his partner, Jon Landstrom; his father, Norman Eichberg of Los Angeles, and two brothers, Peter, also of Los Angeles, and Steven, of Westlake Village, Calif.


It was his vision that by the year 2000, it will be absolutely ok to be lesbian or gay.