Happy Birthday Randall Shilts

Today is the 63rd birthday of Randy Shilts, the author of the Harvey Milk biography and the book And The Band Played On, of which I can see my copy as I type this.  You absolutely have to read the book and/or watch the film, it is your job as a human to understand, empathize, and learn.  Always strive for more understanding.  I first read And The Band Played On one Summer in Interlochen, it was before I had any direct connection to HIV/AIDS.  Since then, I have worked with, befriended, and loved people living with HIV.  I have volunteered hundreds of hours and raised thousands of dollars to support people living with HIV/AIDS, to educate youth about HIV/AIDS, and to research a cure for HIV/AIDS.  I have lost friends and mentors along the way to it.  As I have often said:  Every birthday wish, every coin in the fountain…

randy shilts

NAME: Randall Martin Shilts
BORN: 8-Aug-1951
BIRTHPLACE: Davenport, IA
DIED: 17-Feb-1994
DEATH LOCATION: Guerneville, CA
CAUSE OF DEATH: AIDS
REMAINS: Buried, Redwood Memorial Gardens, Guerneville, CA
GENDER: Male
RELIGION: Methodist
RACE: White
OCCUPATION: Journalist, Author
NATIONALITY: United States
BEST KNOWN FOR: Chronicler of AIDS, biographer of Harvey Milk

Randy Shilts was the first openly gay reporter at a mainstream metropolitan newspaper, and the author of three landmark books: the biography of his assassinated friend Harvey Milk, The Mayor of Castro Street; the definitive account of the early years of the battle against AIDS, And the Band Played On; and the study of the US military’s “Stalinesque” discrimination against gay soldiers, Conduct Unbecoming.

Shilts grew up in Aurora, Illinois, where as a young man he organized a local chapter of the conservative/libertarian group Young Americans for Freedom. Attending college in Oregon, he came out as gay at 19 years of age in 1971, and became a leader in the newly-formed Gay People’s Alliance. After earning a degree in journalism he went to work to The Advocate, and later covered San Francisco news on local radio, television, and in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle. He covered the first outbreaks of the new “gay cancer”, first called Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID) but now knows as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). As the pandemic developed, Shilts became the Chronicle‘s lead reporter on the disease, and battled editors over both the explicit language necessary for covering AIDS and the paper’s early tendency to hide his reports deep in the Chronicle‘s inner pages.

By the time AIDS made the front pages, Shilts had criticized both the Reagan administration and some prominent gay groups for effectively pretending AIDS did not exist. He was called “a gay Uncle Tom” for reporting on common but dangerous sex practices in the city’s infamous bathhouses, but his call for safer sex practices has since come to be accepted as simply common sense. A frequent patron of the bathhouses himself before the danger was understood, Shilts was only 42 when he died of AIDS on 17 February 1994. He wrote the last chapters of his third book from his hospital bed, and in a pre-publication interview told the New York Times, “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.”

Father: Bud Shilts (prefabricated housing salesman)
Mother: Norma Shilts (alcoholic)
Mother: Patricia Shilts (stepmother)
Brother: Gary Shilts
Brother: Reed Shilts
Brother: Dennis Shilts
Brother: David Shilts (fetal alcohol syndrome)
Boyfriend: Barry Barbieri (b. circa 1970, comm. 31-May-1993)

High School: West Aurora High School, Aurora, IL (1969)
University: BS Journalism, University of Oregon (1975)

Young Americans for Freedom
The Advocate (reporter, 1974-77)
KQED Radio (reporter, 1977-79)
KTVU-TV (reporter, 1979-81)
The San Francisco Chronicle (reporter, 1981-93)

Author of books:
The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982, biography)
And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (1987, social studies)
Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military (1993, social studies)

Happy Birthday Keith Haring – Style Icon

Keith Haring is someone whose work you know. You have seen it everywhere from MTV in the early days to yesterday on the side of a bus. His influence and legacy are far-reaching with no visible end in sight. I remember I bought a Keith Haring shirt one summer in Traverse City Michigan, it must have been 1990. It depicted a snake getting cut in half with the words “End AIDS” running under it. I loved that shirt, it made me feel powerful and involved and it gave me a voice.  Keith would have been 56 years old today if he hadn’t died when he was 32.  Do something today to make him proud.

If nothing else, download the Keith Haring iPad app today from iTunes.  It’s free in honor of his birthday.

 

NAME: Keith Haring
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: May 04, 1958
DEATH DATE: February 16, 1990
EDUCATION: Ivy School of Professional, Art School of Visual Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Reading, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: During his all-too-brief life, artist Keith Haring became a sensation in the art world with his bold, cartoon and graffiti influenced works during the 1980s.

The Wiki:

Born on May 4, 1958, in Reading, Pennsylvania. During his all-too-brief life, Keith Haring became a sensation in the art world with his bold, cartoon and graffiti influenced works during the 1980s.

Growing up in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, he spent many hours drawing with his father. Haring was fascinated by the popular cartoon art of Walt Disney and Charles Schultz.

Haring briefly attended the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh after graduating high school in 1976. He dropped out after two semesters. In 1978, Haring decided to return to school, moving to New York City to become a student at the School of Visual Arts. With its thriving underground art scene, New York seemed to be the perfect fit for the young artist. He began using the city as his canvas, making chalk drawings of barking dogs and babies in subway stations. He also befriended such other emerging artists as Jean-Michel Basquiat and helped organize exhibitions at nightclubs and other alternative locations.

In 1982, Haring had his first New York one-man show at the Shafrazi Gallery. Not only did he create paintings and sculptures for the show, he engulfed the entire gallery with his bold color choices and frenetic designs. A critical success, he soon became one of most popular artists of the time with exhibits in Japan, Brazil, and many other countries.

Haring collaborated with other artists and performers, including Andy Warhol and William Burroughs.

Wanting to make his art more accessible, Haring opened Pop Shop in New York City in 1986. The store sold posters, t-shirts, and other items baring his artwork and designs. He was also interested many social causes, painting an anti-drug mural that same year. In all, he did more than 50 public works and held numerous workshops for children. In 1988, Haring discovered that he had AIDS. The next year he created the Keith Haring Foundation to support AIDS organizations and children’s programs.

Haring died on February 16, 1990, of AIDS-related complications. His works continues to be exhibited around the world and many are owned by such prestigious museums as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Polaroid by Andy Warhol

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Words To Live By – Ms. Taylor

Words from a woman who LIVED/LOVED/LAUGHED the hell out of life. You should do it too, in your own way.

“The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.” – Elizabeth Taylor

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Don’t Do It For Anyone Else – Self Help

Today is my last day working for a company that I should have left a year ago.  The stars had to align, I had to find the best next step for me.  Basically, I had to run to something and not run away from something.  I think that I have found it and just like with most major changes, it happens so slowly it is almost undetectable, but with a blink of an eye, it was the new reality.  If I could give advice to my coworkers today, it would be to apply and interview everywhere, know your worth, make sure your obligation is to yourself first.  A long time ago, I got some advice from a coworker on her last day at that very large .com retailer I used to work for, she said “Don’t ever love a company because it is incapable of loving you back.”  It seemed harsh at the time, seeing I was still there and she was leaving.  Over the years, I have understood more of what she was saying:  Keep your priorities in check, Your obligation is to yourself first, Do not lose sight of who you are. It is true, we all fall into it to some extent, but unless the company is your creation, do not let it become your identity.  Hopefully, your company finds value in you and is active in creating a path that allows you to grow along with it and you are recognized for your efforts and participation in it’s success.  The successful company part of you is great, but it is not your identity.  Keep something for yourself.  Do something that is you and only you, that you enjoy.  Don’t do it for anyone else.

There is so much I could and want to say about Keith Haring, he is a personal inspiration and style icon.  I think of this advice quite a bit and is a lot to do with how I structured waldina.com.  I wanted to chronicle what inspired me, good and bad, but mostly good.  I didn’t think too much about what it would mean to anyone else, I figured it would be somewhat interesting from time to time and maybe every now and then, someone would find something they could use in their life.  But I knew I would only think it was good if I only did it for myself.

It’s incredible to think that Keith Haring was only alive for 31 years, given the impact of his work. In New York particularly, his public pop-art greeted many thousands of people every day, and internationally is highly regarded and recognized as a major art influence. He also left behind a valuable legacy that includes, alongside his artwork, the Keith Haring Foundation; launched in 1989 “to assist AIDS-related and children’s charities”, said disease being the cause of his death just a year later.

Below: a brief letter of advice he wrote to an aspiring artist and fan of Haring’s work, circa-1987.

KEITH HARING

676 BROADWAY N.Y.C. 10012 212-477-1579

Michael -

Thanks for your letter. I draw everyday. When I was 15, I wanted to be an artist so I drew all the time. It was my only visible talent.

Whatever you do, the only secret is to believe in it and satisfy yourself. Don’t do it for anyone else.

Good luck,

Keith

World AIDS Day

"Stop AIDS" by Keith Haring

“Stop AIDS” by Keith Haring

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the first World AIDS Day.  AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide between 1981 and 2007.  Nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. and one in five of those are unaware of their infections.  Knowing is everything, make an HIV test part of your routine physical.

It is not a gay disease, it is not an African disease, it is not a junkie disease, it is not a disease that is given to people who behave badly or have unacceptable lifestyles, and it is not God’s punishment. It does not discriminate, it just kills. Some of the most influential people in my life are HIV positive, or I should say most of the most influential people in my life are HIV positive.

"Silence = Death" by Keith Haring

“Silence = Death” by Keith Haring

I have been donating my time, money, and my gently-used items to Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle for years.  Lifelong Aids Alliance does great work for people living with HIV and other chronic illnesses.  There are similar services in every community across the world, find one near you and see what type of donations (canned goods, clothing, time, money) they take and give to them the next time.

  • Here is a link to their donation page:  http://llaa.org/donatenow $54 – Provides one week of fresh meals and groceries for a person living with HIV/AIDS or other chronic illnesses.
  • Visit the Digital AIDS Quilt and create your own panel:  http://www.2015quilt.com/ While you are there, make a pledge to do what you can to help.
  • Tweet/share/re-blog all or any part of this post, increase awareness and involvement with your friends.

I am who I am today because of the amazingly talented, fiercely devoted, and ridiculously hilarious guys that have influenced me to be creatively fearless, to love unapologetically, and to be true to what is important to me.  Every birthday candle I blow out, every coin I throw into a fountain, every time I am required to make a wish, I wish for their health and a cure to be found.

I, along with the world, miss Anthony Perkins, Pedro Zamora, Freddie Mercury, Alvin Ailey, Rudolf Nureyev, Halston, Keith Haring, Herb Ritts, Isaac Asimov, Randy Shilts, Dorian Corey, Leigh Bowery, Robert Mapplethorpe, and many more.

The Global HIV/AIDS Crisis Today

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has become one of the world’s most serious health and development challenges:

  • 33.4 million are currently living with HIV/AIDS.
  • More than 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide since the first cases were reported in 1981.
  • In 2008, 2 million people died due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.7 million were newly infected.
  • While cases have been reported in all regions of the world, almost all those living with HIV (97%) reside in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most people living with HIV or at risk for HIV do not have access to prevention, care, and treatment, and there is still no cure.
  • The HIV epidemic not only affects the health of individuals, it impacts households, communities, and the development and economic growth of nations. Many of the countries hardest hit by HIV also suffer from other infectious diseases, food insecurity, and other serious problems.
  • Despite these challenges, there have been successes and promising signs. New global efforts have been mounted to address the epidemic, particularly in the last decade. Prevention has helped to reduce HIV prevalence rates in a small but growing number of countries and new HIV infections are believed to be on the decline. In addition, the number of people with HIV receiving treatment in resource poor countries has increased 10-fold since 2002, reaching an estimated 4 million by 2008.

Happy Birthday Rock Hudson

Sunday was the 88th birthday of the legendary screen heartthrob Rock Hudson.  I once read a recount of how he got his gravely voice.  He was told by movie executives to go up into the mountains and scream until he lost his voice, this damaged his vocal cords in a way that left him with the very low voice he had for his entire career.  I am not sure if it is true, but it is crazy to think that someone would tell a person to do that.  With his legendary good looks and impressive resume of film credits behind him, he publicly announced he had AIDS to the world and took it from being a fringe disease that no one personally knew who had it to being on the cover of People Magazine.  The bravery at the end of his life is an example of true strength of character.  He propelled the image of AIDS mainstream, we all now knew someone with it, it became immediately personal for all of us.  We are better as a society because of Rock Hudson.

NAME: Rock Hudson
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: November 17, 1925
DEATH DATE: October 02, 1985
PLACE OF BIRTH: Winnetka, Illinois
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California
ORIGINALLY: Roy Harold Scherer, Jr.
AKA: Roy Harold Fitzgerald

BEST KNOWN FOR: Rock Hudson was a leading man of the Hollywood screen in the 1950s and 1960s. His death from AIDS in 1985 greatly increased awareness of the disease.

The Wiki:

Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., later Roy Harold Fitzgerald (November 17, 1925 – October 2, 1985), known professionally as Rock Hudson, was an American film and television actor, most recognized as a romantic leading man during the 1950s and 1960s, most notably in Magnificent Obsession (1954), Giant (1956) and several popular comedies with Doris Day. Later roles included the leads in Ice Station Zebra and the popular televison series McMillan & Wife along with a role in the hugely successful series Dynasty.

Hudson was voted “Star of the Year”, “Favorite Leading Man”, and similar titles by numerous movie magazines. The 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) tall actor was one of the most popular and well-known movie stars of the time. He completed nearly 70 motion pictures and starred in several television productions during a career that spanned over four decades.

Hudson died in 1985, being the first major celebrity to die from an AIDS-related illness.

Following his death, Elizabeth Taylor, his co-star in the film Giant, purchased a bronze plaque for Hudson on the West Hollywood Memorial Walk.

 

Why He’s a Style Icon

Millions of men would kill for the ability to make women swoon the way Roy Harold Scherer Jr. did on-screen. This actor had the kind of charisma that couldn’t be manufactured. When he changed his name to Rock Hudson, he broke box-office records with his films and TV appearances. But as a child, the actor was never cast for any of the productions that he auditioned for, and he had trouble memorizing his lines. Superstardom didn’t happen overnight. He sent his photos to tons of production companies until he began getting small roles, which led to larger ones. In 1956, he starred in Giant with fellow style icons James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. His performance got him an Academy Award nod for best actor.

Hudson epitomized classic American style making simple choices with embellished impressions. On-screen, he wooed woman with his manly good looks and suave style. He pre-dated the word “swag” but would have done it justice. The height of Hudson’s career spanned two decades, both of which were probably the most important to menswear. The ’50s and ’60s brought rebels and statement looks, but menswear still catered to the classics. Hudson was no different.

The best thing about Hudson was his effortless style. He used very little in order to create a look — his presence on- and off-screen was the wow factor. Menswear wasn’t complicated or overly thought out. This is what the ’50s and ’60s were about. Consumers and designers both believed in grooming, so clean looks were always in order. This actor knew how to take something as simple as a white linen shirt and pair it with light-blue slacks, an early version of what would probably be referred to as espadrilles, and a basic leather belt to create the perfect everyday outfit. If he looked like he didn’t try that hard, it’s probably because he didn’t.

Dress the Rock Hudson Way

Rock Hudson’s style wasn’t complicated. From his choices, it’s evident that the actor believed in keeping everything simple and to the point. His perspective was classic and minimalist. That didn’t necessarily mean all white and no patterns, but the actor let embellishments accent his look without overpowering his perspective. When shopping or browsing through your closet, look for basic pieces that can be dressed up and down — nothing too over-the-top. Ermenegildo Zegna’s cotton-stretch pants are great for a simplistic, chic look. These pants (available in white at Bergdorf Goodman) give you that extra room for breathing and the stretch element can conform to the body, making them slim or baggy depending on how they are worn. Grooming should be clean and trimmed. Hudson’s style was more dapper than rugged.

Elizabeth Taylor – Words To Live By

elizabeth taylor

“The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.” – Elizabeth Taylor