Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Randy Shilts

Born in Davenport, IA to a politically and religiously conservative family, Randy Shilts earned his B.A. in journalism from University of Oregon in 1975. After a brief stint with The Advocate, Shilts moved to San Francisco where he was hired by The Chronicle in 1982, becoming a national correspondent in 1988. One of the most important queer reporters of our time, Shilts is best known for bringing AIDS to the national stage, reporting on the disease full time. His work resulted in the 630-page controversial bestseller And the Band Played On (1987), chronicling AIDS from emergence to crisis point and exposing the neglect of the government and medical world, naming names all the way. Shilts also authored The Mayor of Castro Street (1982), a biography of gay politician Harvey Milk and Conduct Unbecoming (1993), a history of gay and lesbians in the military. Shilts tested HIV-positive in 1987 before developing AIDS, of which he died in 1994 at 42.