Pride Profile: Randy Shilts

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Journalist/Author

(1951 -1994)

Despite graduating at the top of his journalism class in 1975, it wasn’t until 1981 that out writer; Randy Shilts was hired full time, becoming “the first openly gay reporter with a gay ‘beat’ in the American mainstream press” by “The San Francisco Chronical.”

Called “the pre-eminent chronicler of gay life and spokesman on gay issues,” by Jeffery Schmalz of the New York Times, Shilts is most known as an author for his three widely acclaimed best-selling books: The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, (1982) creating a new literary genre  “gay political biography.”  And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (1980–1985), (1987) recounting the Reagan Administration’s apathy and derelict of action as well as the gay community’s resistance to changing its behavior in the face of a growing health crisis which became an award winning film in 1993.  Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military, (1993) the last chapter of which Randy Shilts dictated from his hospital bed while battling AIDS.  He had plans for a fourth book on homosexuals in the Roman Catholic Church.

“I can only answer that I tried to tell the truth and, if not be objective, at least be fair; history is not served when reporters prize trepidation and propriety over the robust journalistic duty to tell the whole story.”

-Randy Shilts

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