Ari Gold, an out gay songwriter and singer from New York City, died on February 14 at the age of 47. He had long suffered from Leukemia.
Gold, who hailed from the Bronx, was immersed in the music world from an early age. While he was also the voice behind characters on cartoon shows during his youth, he went on to focus much more on music — and became more comfortable about expressing his sexuality — as he came of age.
Gold built a name for himself performing across a variety of New York City venues, including gay bars like Barracuda and Splash, before emerging as a prominent leader in the city’s music scene. He unveiled seven albums, worked with stars like Diana Ross and Boy George, and became a key player behind the scenes and in the spotlight. He especially became known for his work on “Where the Music Takes You” in 2007.
In 2006, Gold wrote a story for The Advocate in which he explained the adversity he faced in the music industry and his experience growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family. He recalled coming out to his family in an 18-page letter before heading off to college.
Even as he progressed in his career, Gold encountered harsh realities simply because of his sexual orientation. He once described a time when a gay music producer told him to stay closeted, which Gold said was “disrespectful.”
“I for one am proud to be known as a gay artist when too many artists on the music scene don’t want to be,” Gold said in 2006, according to The Advocate. “I’m done with hiding and done with shame in any form. As long as my friends are being beaten on the streets, as long as there are still kids killing themselves because of shame, and as long as we are still fighting for our basic civil rights, I will continue to shout from the queer rooftops.”
Speaking to Gay City News in 2004, Gold further elaborated on the homophobia he faced during his career as he navigated the cabaret world.
“It seems like a really conservative genre,” Gold said at the time. “And sure, it can go unspoken, but I’ve gotten plenty of direct homophobia. Of course, they don’t think they’re being homophobic, and, pathetically enough, it comes from both straight and gay people. In fact, it’s probably more gay people than straight people. I was always told, ‘Come out later. You have to establish yourself first.’ But let’s face it, that’s been done.”
A wave of celebrities who spoke out on social media following Gold’s death remembered him as a kind person who cared deeply about his friends and loved ones.
“So many people have come and gone from my life over the past 25 years but you have been a constant,” Laverne Cox said in a social media post. “As I’ve grown and evolved, you evolved with me. The spiritual journey we’ve both been on has made it clear why we’ve remained in each other’s lives for so long. I’m so utterly devastated that you’ve moved on today.”
She added, “But I know you’ll be watching over me as you always have. I’m so grateful to have known you. I’m better because you have been a part of my life. My brother! I love you so much! Rest in power!”
RuPaul posted about Gold several times, including one post that read, “Until we meet again, dear friend. @SirAriGold Love always, Ru.”
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