by Rex Wockner
Scott Long resigned Aug. 23 as director of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT Rights Program.
In a note to friends, Long wrote: “In mid-July I suffered a pulmonary embolism of a fairly unpleasant sort. While running to catch a bus on a New York street, I saw a blinding effusion of white light, amid which several spangled and bell-bottomed figures vaguely resembling ABBA beckoned me to an eternal disco complete with spinning ball. Yanked back from their blandishments by a superior fashion sense, I spent a couple of weeks in intensive care. I had plenty of time lying in a bendable bed with an IV dripping, to compose, like Woody Allen, lists of the things that make life worth living: the last movement of Bruckner’s Third Symphony; ‘Sit Down, I Think I Love You’ as covered by the Staccatos, with that harpsichord and those violins; the closing pages of ‘Lolita’; W. H. Auden as sung by Cleo Laine. Somewhere in the middle of the lists, I realized that working for Human Rights Watch wasn’t on them.”
Long said he likely will pursue a fellowship at Harvard University, from which he received his Ph.D., and write a book “about what’s moral and what’s immoral about ‘international solidarity,’ and what’s worked and what hasn’t in campaigns for sexual rights.”
“Scott’s exemplary dedication and diligence has been an inspiration to us all,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and a member of HRW’s LGBT Advisory Committee. “His articulate and relentless defense of LGBT rights everywhere is unparalleled, and his tremendous efforts on this front have been a guiding voice for justice and equality.”
In addition to amassing a long list of accomplishments during his eight-year tenure at HRW, Long occasionally sparked controversy. In June, HRW issued an apology to British gay leader Peter Tatchell for what HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth called Long’s “inappropriate and disparaging comments” about Tatchell in recent years.