Shiltsmas at 70: First Impressions, Lasting Influence
Posted on August 8, 2021 Leave a Comment
To recognize what would have been Randy’s 70th birthday, today I am sharing some quotes from the oral history interviews I conducted for my book. Specifically, I asked each person to remember the first time they met Randy and the impression he made, and I concluded by asking them to describe what they see as Randy’s last influence in society. This is just a small sample of the many memories people shared with me, but if Randy were alive today, I think he’d be quite moved, amused, and grateful for how they still remember him.
Reporting and Reactions From Forty Years Ago: Part III
Posted on June 11, 2021 Leave a Comment
By the end of 1981, both Time and Newsweek had joined the mainstream papers in publishing cursory stories on the epidemic, but much of the credit for keeping gay cancer in the headlines lay with a small handful in the gay media who, often against the wishes of their publishers and advertisers, insisted on keeping it there.
Reporting and Reactions From Forty Years Ago: Part II
Posted on June 8, 2021 Leave a Comment
Prior to the MMWR’s announcement, Kramer had already witnessed an alarmingly rapid decline among some of his friends. “We’re appalled that this is happening to them and terrified that it could happen to us,” he wrote. “It’s easy to become frightened that one of the many things we’ve done or taken over the past years may be all that it takes for a cancer to grow from a tiny something-or-other that got in there who knows when from doing who knows what. . . .”
“This is our disease and we must take care of each other and ourselves.”
Reporting and Reactions From Forty Years Ago: Part I
Posted on June 5, 2021 Leave a Comment
In adjusting to post-vaccination life in the age of COVID-19, re-reading this history has helped me to reflect on just how difficult, yet innately human it is, to struggle with a “new normal” when forces beyond our control make life as we’ve known it impossible (or impractical) to continue living as we had before.
Came for the Stories, Stayed for the Pets
Posted on May 17, 2021 1 Comment
Bonding with my sources over their pets has been more than just a way to make quick friends. It opens up an entire vocabulary for relating to each other around relationships, feelings, and values.
Attention Economy, Part II: The Curious Case of Randy Shilts
Posted on March 8, 2021 Leave a Comment
With respect to the attention economy, Goldhaber notes, “We struggle to attune ourselves to groups of people who feel they’re not getting the attention they deserve, and we ought to get better at sensing that feeling earlier.” While he’s making this observation about those who recently tried to overthrow the 2020 election, the comment gives me pause because I think it applies quite aptly to the stories of ordinary people that Randy often featured in his work. To the extent that attention functions as currency in our society, what can we make of someone who was undeniably ambitious, yet tried to use his journalism to help lesser-known and less powerful individuals?
Stiff Necks, Sore Eyes, and Hidden Treasures
Posted on February 9, 2021 Leave a Comment
Turning through page after page, the voice in my head that hates being uncomfortable was telling me, “Close it up. I have to use the bathroom. I’m hungry and thirsty. There’s nothing new here, so let’s go.” Soon, I was down to one last piece of paper to examine, which I was sorely tempted to skip. After all – what could I possibly find, that I hadn’t already seen?
Posted on January 15, 2021 Leave a Comment
By stepping into the role of biographer, I realized that I’d taken on the part of quasi-time traveler, putting myself in the same place at different moments and connecting what I’d witnessed in archival footage with the evidence provided by my own senses.
Video Blog, Pt. 4: The Exciting Conclusion!
Posted on January 5, 2021 Leave a Comment
In the final portion of this video Q & A, students ask about the target audience for When the Band Played On, potential future book topics, and how I’d like my writing to affect people.
Video Blog Pt. 3: Answering Student Questions
Posted on December 29, 2020 Leave a Comment
In this segment, Holly asks me how a social work perspective has informed my research and writing, and to describe the experience of becoming intimately familiar with someone who I’ll never be able to meet in person.