Back in the late 70s, when I lived in San Francisco, I met a television reporter named Randy Shilts. A major magazine in a brief mention, said he was the first openly gay television news reporter. I remember saying to him, "I've always been openly gay, so what made you the first?" Regardless of who was actually first, Randy was covering things that nobody else was.
After leaving the public tv station where he had been working, Randy went on to the major local newspaper, where he again paid more attention to lgbt issues, than any other reporter. Books followed. He gave us only three, but three important ones: Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military, And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, and The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk.
He wanted to write more. Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church was to have been examined in his next book, but AIDS claimed his life at the young age of 42, before he was able to get to that.
I've written here about Randy Shilts before, and you may think it odd that I bring him up so much. We knew each other, but never became close. Randy made a difference though. He brought us news we needed to hear. He talked about HIV/AIDS when nobody else was. Although there is some controversy, especially when he called for the closure of gay bathhouses, Randy continued to dig up the facts and report them to us. He might not be recognized by everyone, but I am thrilled that he was one of the first to receive a plaque on San Francisco's Rainbow Honor Walk.
Thanks for the reports and the books Randy. Thanks for making a difference!