Monday, June 30, 2014

And the band played on

If you think it's business as usual, you really haven't been paying attention lately.  This month we saw a great example of justice rolling across the country with marriage rulings effecting several states.  President Barack Obama recently issued Executive Orders that will offer some lgbt protection.  With Pride Month in full gear there are celebrations of equality happening even in places where you might not expect them.  The battle against AIDS is at an all time high.

Oh and speaking of the battle against AIDS, last week I was at the kickoff reception for this year's AIDS Walk.  So many familiar faces were there.  It was terribly encouraging to hear about the work of so many and to hear about the progress that is being made.  It was so encouraging to see that it isn't just gay men in the battle these days or the gay women who have also been so very supportive.  Last night there was everybody - the whole lgbt spectrum and also the non-lgbt folks and people of all ages and races.  It's a far cry now than in 1987 when Randy Shilts wrote And the Band Played On.

Every year, as AIDS Walk approaches, I think of Randy Shilts.  Not only did he write this book (which was also made into a film with the same name), but he continued reporting on AIDS and it was because of him that AIDS become more mainstream and people changed the way they looked at it.  Randy made a difference and, even though there are no statues in his honor, and perhaps few people even remember his name, I would dare say he was one of the most important chroniclers of lgbt life in the 20th century.  In addition to his television, newspaper, and magazine work, he also wrote two other books:  The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk and Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military.

At the AIDS Walk kickoff, Craig R. Miller the event founder was introduced, with someone saying that he had changed the world.  Mr Miller certainly has made a difference and we should indeed acknowledge his great contributions, but at the same time I always think of all those who got involved early on when so many were afraid or who were ignoring AIDS.  Randy Shilts was certainly one of those people who got involved.  Randy Shilts made a difference.

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