Randy Shilts

In the 1970s, the gay community in the United States was fighting for their civil rights, and Randy Shilts covered that ‘beat.’

Shilts, an openly gay journalist, was applauded for his extensive reporting on gay rights and the AIDS epidemic.

During his time at the University of Oregon, Shilts was the managing editor of the Oregon Daily Emerald. He was also very active in the gay community on campus and became the director of the Gay People’s Alliance in Eugene.

Shilts went on to write for The Advocate, a gay publication, before landing a position at The San Francisco Chronicle where he reported on the AIDS crisis full-time.  

The time and effort that Shilts committed to covering gay rights led him to author three best-selling books: “The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk” (1982)’; “And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic”(1987); and “Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf” (1993).

Shilts was one of the first reporters to uncover the real stories behind gay rights and AIDS. His reporting highlighted problems and exposed the truth, but more importantly, his reporting gave a platform to voices being silenced and ignored at the time.

Shilts passed away at the age of 42, but his legacy still echoes through the facets of LGBTQ reporting today.