Brain Food Category

From Bar Outreach to Aspiring Biographer: A Reintroduction

When people ask about my project and I say the name “Randy Shilts,” they almost never know who I’m talking about. When I say “And the Band Played On,” if they are of a certain age, there’s often an emotional reaction. Then, they tell me about someone significant in their lives: the uncle who’d moved out west, but then came home to die with lesions on his face; the roommate in New York, who they took care of in his final months; or the older cousin from Milwaukee, whose funeral they weren’t allowed to attend.

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The Summer I Bought New Pencils

The experience of putting hand to paper stimulates an entirely different writing experience for me. Back in 2016, I found this to be true as I started writing long hand at times to break through the long, dreadful periods of staring at the glow of my expectant laptop. I’m not sure why, but it took […]

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From the Wayback Machine, Part I

To get myself back in the habit of posting regular content, I’m adding some occasional work that comes from the past. The first of these is a spoken word piece from 2006. Performed in August, 2006, as a guest artist for “Two Queers and a Chubby,” a spoken word entry in the Minnesota Fringe Festival. […]

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Just the Beginning

When I started running last spring, I could manage about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile nonstop before I would pause to walk for a stretch. By late summer and early fall, I had pushed that distance up to a mile, maybe slightly more. In the spring, I steadily extended that distance to 1 and […]

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Back to San Francisco (Revisiting Shilts)

Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City brought my first real attraction to San Francisco. Although still a couple years away from coming out, as a rural Midwestern teen in the early 1990s I sensed something about that miniseries—aside from curiosity about gay culture of the 70s— which drew me to a city that I had […]

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Disappointment and Rededication

Fifteen years ago, I was a senior English major, on the verge of graduating with honors from Michigan State University. I had co-founded Q-News, MSU’s first literary magazine for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied students, led its staff to a well-received presentation at the national “Creating Change” Conference, and was close to finishing a […]

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Classic Holiday Movie Post #2

Jaxon and I seem to have a pattern to our holiday watching, as movie #2 was exactly the same this year as two years ago. This week it was another beauty from the World War II era, starring Barbara Stanwyck on a farm that looks eerily similar to Bing Crosby’s digs in “Holiday Inn.” A […]

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Classic Holiday Movie Post #1

Seems like a good time to repost this. We actually re-watched this movie a couple weeks ago when the first winter storm hit. I remember I used to laugh at this depiction of Minnesota in November– snowbanks and ice fishing before Thanksgiving?? Right!! Jaxon and I have a collection of old movies (mostly VHS) that […]

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Reflective Thinking

I feel unsettled, not necessarily by anything occurring around me, but by the amount of time I let pass before deciding to write something new for the blog. Part of my purpose in creating this space was to challenge myself to keep up on my writing and reflections, even as I have managed the multiplicity […]

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From Anger to Inspiration?

I spent last weekend at the National Conference on Social Work & HIV/AIDS, a nicely organized event that seems to attract the kind of people around whom I want to be—smart, dedicated, compassionate, enthusiastic about their work, and self-reflective. The audience is part academic, part professional; in other words, a good place to test out […]

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