05.26.14 David M. Rosenblum, October, 1966 – May, 2014

05.26.14 David M. Rosenblum, October, 1966 – May, 2014

By Jed Barnum

David Rosenblum was the Legal Director at Philadelphia’s Mazzoni Center for LGBT health and wellness, and a supporter of QOHP. We met in 1984 as freshmen at Brandeis University in Boston, in a fall production of the musical “Cabaret.” He was brilliant, with an unashamedly flamboyant sense of style and a great wit. He wore his hair in a modified pompadour, changing the color to suit his mood and his outfits. One day turquoise, the next, hot pink. I was from rural Maine and tried as hard as possible to hide any outward signs of my gayness. (I very much knew I was gay but was completely closeted.) David, from the suburbs of Philadelphia, took the opposite approach, literally and deliberately flaunting his style. He was the one who said “I mean, your curly hair is amazing. Why don’t you DO something with it?” Within weeks I had given up my plaid flannel and sweater vests for an 80’s mullet, a jacket with the sleeves rolled up, baggy oxford shirt, bolo tie. Very 1984.

Having survived “Cabaret,” I signed on for Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta “Iolanthe” that spring. That’s the one where the queen of Fairyland turns the uppity members of Parliament into fairies (Act II Finale: “Everyone Is Now A Fairy”). Appropriately enough, I came out in rather torrid fashion with another cast member at a party opening night. The next day, David, after what I thought was a surprising amount of awkwardness, came out to me. I’d assumed that he was completely out of the closet, but he told me he’d been struggling with his sexual orientation for some time. From then on, we were best friends, living together first in Brandeis’s castle tower (yes, an actual tower in an actual castle), and then in two apartments with dear friends. We were both active members of Triskelion, Brandeis’s LGB club, and he conducted the school’s a cappella group Company B for three years. He was musical director for Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along,” which I directed.

After college, David went on to Villanova Law School, and I started work in the Press Office of the Boston Symphony. We lost touch as old friends sometimes do, re-establishing contact occasionally. Last summer QOHP ran a small IndieGogo campaign, and he donated and told me how excited he was about the project. I was hoping he would be able to share his video story with us, and perhaps collaborate with the project in other ways as well. Sadly, I’m writing this blog post instead. My great regret is that although we both worked for years to advance LGBT rights, health, and culture, we never got the chance to work together. Here’s his obituary.


David M. Rosenblum, a civil rights attorney and a leader in the gay rights movement in Philadelphia who was known for his quick wit, his outgoing nature, and his love of pop culture and musical theater, died suddenly on May 2 after suffering a heart attack. He was 47 and lived with his husband, Stephan Stoeckl, in Collingswood, NJ.

Since 2011, David was the Legal Director of the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization that serves members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, representing them in matters ranging from employment rights to estate planning. David oversaw a staff of attorneys, legal clinic advocates, law student interns, and pro bono attorneys. He also served as an adjunct professor for Temple Law School’s clinical program in Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law. Before Mazzoni, David worked for the State of New Jersey for 11 years, first as a Deputy Attorney General in the Employment Counseling Unit, and later as the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer in the Department of Labor. These posts followed eight years as a Trial Attorney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where David also had an internship during law school.

Throughout his career, David was involved in the fight for gay rights at both the local and national levels. He was Chair of GALLOP (Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia) from 1995-98 and served on the GALLOP Board from 1994-2002. He was also a member of the National LGBT Bar Association and chaired its annual conference, Lavender Law, when it was held in Philadelphia in 2002. As a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association, David worked on a broader range of civil rights issues with the Delivery of Legal Services Committee, the Public Interest Section, the LGBT Committee, the Diversity Committee, the Civil Rights Committee, and the Minorities in the Profession Committee. David’s work in fighting discrimination was recognized many times with awards and honors, most recently with the 2013 Diversity Award from Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law, for extraordinary advocacy for diversity in the legal profession.

Beginning in high school, David was involved in music and musical theater. He was in the Upper Merion High School production of “Oliver!,” and was a member of the marching band. He was also the musical director for productions of “Grease” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” with an amateur theater company in Philadelphia. While attending Brandeis University, David was the musical director for productions of “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” with a cast that included Brandeis classmate Debra Messing. At Villanova University School of Law, David was a member of Court Jesters, a theater group, and served as both musical director and chair. In 1999, David joined The Savoy Company, America’s oldest Gilbert and Sullivan society, and was in the cast for eight shows between 1999 and 2007. He also served on Savoy’s Board of Directors from 2002 to 2005 and three years on its Nominating Committee. He was assistant director for productions of “Yeomen of the Guard” and “HMS Pinafore.”

It was through Savoy that David in 2000 met his husband, Stephan Stoeckl, the Director of Marketing for the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale. The couple was joined in civil union in New Jersey in 2011 and married in New York in August 2013. Together, David and Stephan worked to restore their Victorian home in Collingswood and in their spare time enjoyed traveling to Tuscany, Amsterdam, Prague and Stephan’s native Austria. David is survived by his husband, Stephan Stoeckl; parents Ruth and Howard; brother Darren and sister-in-law Dana, niece Rachael and nephews Kyle and Ryan; and sister Dawn and brother-in-law Pierre Pavot, and nieces Rebecca and Lauren. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you make a donation to the Mazzoni Center’s Legal Services Department.

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