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Late Disco Legend Sylvester’s Estate Gives Two AIDS Groups 140K

The late disco diva Sylvester James, a flamboyant and openly gay disco superstar from San Francisco died over 21 years ago at the age of 41 from complications due to AIDS  Shortly before his death Sylvester had bequeathed his future royalties to local AIDS groups, but Sylvester died deeply in debt there was no money to distribute until the late 90s. Once his advances were repaid, his early-career label Fantasy Records then kept the money in an account until its proper recipient could be legally determined..

Last week that the AIDS Emergency Fund and Project Open Hand split a check from the drag performer’s estate totaling nearly $140,000. “When I came into this job seven and a half years ago, I inherited three bankers’ boxes filled with all of the early records from Sylvester’s estate. The documents were page after page of all the financial records of his estate, which clearly showed tremendous amounts of debt and no clear path to having them paid off,” said Mike Smith, executive director of the AIDS Emergency Fund. “AEF never expected this estate to pay out the way it just has.”

With he advent of iTunes and the recent usage of Sylvester’s music in movies means that more money will be coming. Project Open Hand reports that their 25% share of the first distribution will buy 13,000 meals for people with AIDS.

Sylvester would be estatic.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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