Sunday, December 1, 2013

Out Spotlight - Worlds AIDS Day

December 1st is World AIDS Day, and for the past  25 years has recognized the fight against HIV and AIDS worldwide.

The battle against AIDS is being won, with deaths down, record numbers of people being treated, and new cases among children down by more than half.   But not it is the ongoing discrimination against sufferers that is the biggest obstacle to winning the war, according to the head of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS).

One thing we must do is continue the cause of the fight against HIV/AIDS. We must continue educate and continue awareness about AIDS, just because people are living with HIV/AIDS no excuse to forget the cause. We must fight harder against the discrimination of those with the illness.  And we must never forget the past and those who stood up and led the fight.

Today's Out Spotlight was the first openly gay journalist to cover GLBT issues in the American mainstream press. He also wrote the first major book on the AIDS epidemic.  Today's Out Spotlight is Randy Shilts.

Randy Shilts was born August 8, 1951 in Davenport, Iowa. He grew up in Aurora, Illinois, with five brothers in a politically conservative, working-class family. He majored in journalism at the University of Oregon, where he worked on the student newspaper, the Oregon Daily Emerald, becoming an award-winning managing editor. During his college days, he came out publicly as a gay man at age 20, and ran for student office with the slogan "Come out for Shilts."

After coming out Shilts became head of the Eugene, Oregon Gay People's Alliance.

While at the top of class for journalism, being an openly gay reporter made it difficult for Shilts to find work.  After working as the northwest correspondent for The Advocate, he moved to San Francisco to become a staff writer. He covered gay issues and city politics at San Francisco area television stations. He held positions at The Advocate and the San Francisco Chronicle and was the author of three books.

Shilts wrote “The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk” (1982), when a biography about a gay political figure was groundbreaking.
His New York Times best seller, “And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic” (1987), was the first major book about AIDS. It chronicles the first five years of the epidemic and exposes the infighting and inaction that led the virus to become a pandemic.  The book earned a nomination for the National Book Award and was translated into seven languages. It was adapted into an Emmy Award-winning HBO film starring Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, Steve Martin, Matthew Modine and Lily Tomlin.

While suffering from AIDS-related causes, Shilts dictated the last chapters of “Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military: Vietnam to the Persian Gulf” (1993).  The work examines homophobia in the military and is based on more than 1,000 interviews. 

 In 1999, the Department of Journalism at New York University ranked Shilts's AIDS reporting for the Chronicle between 1981 and 1985 as number 44 on a list of the top 100 works of journalism in the United States in the 20th century.

Shilts never compromised his professional integrity. In 1993, a year before he lost his battle with AIDS, he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

 Shilts declined to be told the results of his HIV test until he had completed the writing of And the Band Played On, concerned that the test result, whatever it might be, would interfere with his objectivity as a writer. He was finally found to be HIV positive in March 1987. Although he took the anti-HIV drug AZT for several years, he did not publicly disclose his AIDS diagnosis until shortly before he died. In 1992, Shilts came down with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and suffered a collapsed lung; the following year, he came down with Kaposi's sarcoma. In a New York Times interview in the spring of 1993, Shilts observed, "HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character." Despite being effectively homebound and on oxygen, he was able to attend the Los Angeles screening of the HBO film version of And the Band Played On in August 1993. 

Shilts died, aged 42, at his 10-acre ranch in Guerneville, Sonoma County, California, being survived by his partner, Barry Barbieri, his mother, and his brothers. His brother Gary had conducted a commitment service for the couple the previous year. After a funeral service at Glide Memorial Church, he was buried at Redwood Memorial Gardens in Guerneville.

As a fellow reporter put it, despite an early death, in his books Shilts "rewrote history. In doing so, he saved a segment of history from extinction." Historian Garry Wills wrote of And the Band Played On, "This book will be to gay liberation what Betty Friedan was to early feminism and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was to environmentalism." NAMES Project founder Cleve Jones described Shilts as "a hero" and characterized his books as "without question the most important works of literature affecting gay people."

After his death, a longtime friend and assistant explained the motivation that drove Shilts: "He chose to write about gay issues for the mainstream precisely because he wanted other people to know what it was like to be gay. If they didn't know, how were things going to change?"

  "History is not served when reporters prize trepidation and propriety over the robust journalistic duty to tell the whole story."


New Now Next said...

Mario Bello, “Prisoners” Actress, Comes Out As Gay

Maria Bello is gorgeous, strong and talented—and she’s also openly gay. The 46-year-old actress has come out publicly as a lesbian in a column in Friday’s edition of the New York Times, “Coming Out as a Modern Family,” in which she discussed opening up about her current relationship to her 12-year-old son, Jackson.

“I was with someone romantically and I hadn’t told him,” Bello says writes. “I had become involved with a woman who was my best friend, and, as it happens, a person who is like a godmother to my son.”

Jackson’s father is TV executive Dan McDermott, whom Bello calls “the best father and the most wonderful man I’ve known.”

Her current partner, Clare, was a friend long before anything romantic evolved. “I came across a black-and-white [photo] of my best friend and me taken on New Year’s Eve,” recalls Bello. “We looked so happy, I couldn’t help but smile. It didn’t occur to me, until that soul-searching moment in my garden, that we could perhaps choose to love each other romantically.”

She says her feelings for Clare “aren’t the same as the butterflies-in-the-stomach, angst-ridden love I have felt before; they are much deeper than that.”

Florida Tom said...

Wow what a surprise. Funny that she just made a movie with Jake. Wonder how this kind of character and honesty makes him feel.

the real m said...

Thanks for today's spotlight, Special. I watched And the Band Played on today. I'd seen it before but it's always good to see such films every few years. And learning the authors background helps a lot.

prairiegirl said...

Fascinating story. So sad that he couldn't medically be saved and had a longer life. But wow, he made his mark, that's for sure.

The Maria Bello story is pretty interesting. I don't know if I would say she's coming out as lesbian because if you read the whole article she wrote, she really emphasizes how she dated men, she was sexually attracted to men. In fact, she kind of excessively makes it clear. Then she goes on and on about the various meanings of the word "partner".

I don't know, but really goes on and on about it. It's like everyone who has any kind of friendship or relationship is partners in some way. It just read as very unclear to me. But glad she felt like writing publicly and now she can relax more.

It seemed to me that her son may not have been so surprised.

prairiegirl said...

And check it out, Mr. Tom, but now suddenly Tom Daley has come out in a similar fashion like Maria Bello.

<a href=">Tom Daley is in love and a relationship</a>

"He said: 'Come Spring this year, my life changed, massively, when I met someone and they make me feel so happy, so safe and everything just feels great.
'Well that someone is a guy."

Boy, the walls keep a 'crumblin'!! Yea for that!

prairiegirl said...

Oops, my link didn't work. Sorry! Oh I see what I did wrong. Hey I'm on my IPad , not a regular keyboard, lol.

Seems like people are finding a way to come out, and maybe this will be a trend for those who want to come out but feel their careers would suffer if they came out as gay? Because this is a real turnaround for Tom Daley.

And what are the odds that 3 major actors on Prisoners are or have been in gay relationships?

Florida Tom said...

Wow I thought Tom Daley was out. Very nice that he made it official though.

ROMA said...

Special, really great spotlight essay today.

Here is my Appetizers Recipe FYI courtesy of my Mom.

Mama Marge Zucchini Pie

Get four “nice size” zucchinis


2 eggs
one cup of bisquick
some grated cheese
one small onion
2 cloves of garlic

Pour enough olive oil to cover large size frying pan. Just heat diced garlic and onions, on a low flame. While that is heating, clean the zucchinis by peeling them (if preferred.) Cut the zukes down the center, and then cut in to chunks.

Put all the zuke chunks in with onions and garlic. Cover with a cover or a splatter screen for 5 minutes. Cook til soft. Take off the range for a while.

Mix up the eggs and one cup of milk and one cup of the bisquick and cheese to taste. Blend together; add the zukes. Pour out into a large frying pan or an omelette pan.

Place into the oven at about 350 - 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

For appetizers you can cut this into squares.

Special K said...

Since I have completely messed up all the dates for the recipes and ROMA was on the ball, we will open up for appetizer recipes all this week. Then on Friday it will switch to Main and Sides.