Twelve I Knew

After a 10-month hiatus, I resume blogging here on an occasional basis.

For World AIDS Day two years ago, Michigan LGBTQ Remember highlighted twelve individuals that MSU alum and ACT UP member Jon Nalley knew from his college days who had died from HIV/AIDS as of 1991, when he recounted their lives in an affidavit to New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.

Last year, for World AIDS Day, retired AIDS Partnership Michigan executive director Barbara Murray shared twelve people from Metro Detroit that she witnessed in their living with and dying from the disease in the course of her career and activism.

I thank Jon and Barb for their sharing and generosity.  I now have a stronger sense of what a big ask it was.

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On the Radio

When I was 21 and living in a basement efficiency in Flint, on my own for the first time, I remember tuning in on my clock radio to hear Michael Murray a call-in show called Flint Feedback, broadcast on AM station WTRX.

Murray had helped found Dignity/Flint in 1976 and was one of the few gay people in Flint in the mid-1980s to be so out as to appear on the radio.

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Whatever Happened to…?

As I rework my dissertation into a book manuscript—cutting sections here, smoothing out passages there, tugging at paragraphs like taffy over there, finding the through line—I have been sneaking out and doing some last-minute oral history interviews.  Even though many people have told me to stop, that I need to get the book done.

I can’t quite help it.

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LGBTQ Bookstores RIP

Yesterday, December 31, 2018, marked the official last day* for Common Language Bookstore in Ann Arbor.  In November, owners Keith Orr and Martin Contreras announced they were closing up shop at the end of the year.  In mid-December, Between The Lines hosted a farewell party to thank Martin and Keith for their years of devotion, keeping the store open long after most other queer bookstores in the country have gone out of business.

For the first time in more than four decades, Michigan has no LGBTQ bookstore.

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Giving a Rat’s Ass about LGBTQ History, 2018 edition

My grandfather loved to tell stories of yesteryear.  In conversation, he would often ask “Why should I give a rat’s ass?” as if out of the blue.  Although I was never sure if his salty language came from growing up in Michigan’s Thumb or from working in Flint’s factories, I came to understand his storytelling as a significant means of conveying personal values, culture, and history to his grandkids.

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Barb Remembers

“These are not numbers, but people I loved and cared about,” Michigan State alum Jon Nalley wrote in a 1991 affidavit, explaining that his ACT UP civil disobedience grew from the loss of twelve college friends to AIDS.  Michigan LGBTQ Remember featured these twelve individuals for World AIDS Day last year.

For 2018, the site and this blog commemorate twelve other Michiganders lost to HIV/AIDS, all from Metro Detroit, who are specially remembered by Barbara Murray: Anthony Caputo, Chester Cislo, James Drain, Jeff Kucharsk, Tom Bartley, Jim Proffitt, Doug Pizzala, Tim Warner, Jim Beates, Scott McCready, Robin Ware, and Dan Stoepker.

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