Microsoft millions form largest ever gay donation

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A gay man who was one of the founding employees of computer company Microsoft has bequeathed $65m (£33m) to the Pride Foundation of Seattle.

Ric Weiland joined the company started by two of his high school classmates Bill Gates and Paul Allen. He died in died in June 2006, at the age of 53, committing suicide after struggling with depression.

He is survived by his partner, Mike Schaefer of Seattle and his nieces and nephews.

$160m of his estate was donated to charitable organisations. He also left $60m to Stanford University.

A wide range of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans organisations will benefit from his generosity, the largest ever single bequest to the LGBT community.

Organisations that will be receiving funding from the Weiland Designated Fund at Pride Foundation include amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the Servicemembers Legal Defence Network.

“Ric was a good friend, a terrific computer programmer and a very generous man,” said Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and friend of Weiland.

“His gift to the Pride Foundation demonstrates his compassion and dedication to the community, and I’m very proud to have had him as a friend. He will be sorely missed but his legacy lives on through the work of Pride and the charitable organizations it supports.”

Through his estate, Weiland established a fund at Pride Foundation that will provide $46 million over the next eight years to ten American LGBT and HIV/AIDS organisations that he personally selected.

In addition, he bequeathed $19 million directly to Pride Foundation for scholarships and grants supporting the Northwest United States LGBT community.

“Ric was one of Pride Foundation’s closest supporters, not just as a donor, but as a board member and volunteer,” said Audrey Haberman, executive director of the Pride Foundation.

“All of us feel such a tremendous loss with him gone. Ric’s bequest will do what he always wanted-inspire others to give to the causes they care about to the full extent that they can.”

Last year Microsoft founder Bill Gates promised $24m towards the development of an AIDS vaccine through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.