08-08-1951 – 02-17-1994 Randy Shilts – Born in Davenport, Iowa. He was a pioneering gay American journalist and author. He worked as a freelance reporter for both The Advocate and the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as for San Francisco Bay Area television stations. He majored in journalism at the University of Oregon and graduated near the top of his class in 1975, but as an openly gay man, he struggled to find full-time employment in what he characterized as the homophobic environment of newspapers and television stations at that time. He was finally hired by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1981, becoming “the first openly gay reporter with a ‘gay’ beat in the American mainstream press. AIDS first came to nationwide attention that same year and soon Shilts devoted himself to covering the unfolding story of the disease and its medical, social, and political ramifications. Shilts also wrote three best-selling, widely acclaimed books. His first, The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, is a biography of the first openly San Francisco politician, Harvey Milk, who was assassinated by political rival Dan White, in 1978. His second book, And the Band Played On: Politic, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (1980-1985), published in 1987, won the Stonewall Book Award and brought him nationwide fame. The book was translated into seven languages, and in 1993 was made into an HBO film. The film earned 20 nominations and 9 awards, including the 1994 Emmy Award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie. His last book, Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military, which examined discrimination against lesbians and gays in the military, was published in 1993. Shilts was honored with the 1988 Outstanding Author award from the American Society of Journalist and Authors, the 1990 Mather Lectureship at Harvard University, and the 1993 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists’ Association. In 1994 Shilts died of AIDS at the age of 45 at his ranch in Guerneville, Sonoma County, California. He was 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.
08-08-1871 – 01-06-1931 Olga de Meyer – Born in Chelsea, London, England. She was a British-born artists’ model, socialite, patron of the arts, writer, and fashion figure of the early 20th century. Her marriage to photographer Adolph de Meyer is what she is best known for. It was a marriage of convenience since Adolph was gay and she was a lesbian. Among her affairs was one with Princess de Polignac, the Singer sewing machine heiress, lasting five years. One of Meyer’s short stories, Clothes and Treachery, was made into The Devil’s Pass Key, a 1919 silent film by director Erich von Stroheim. Known as the women’s amateur fencing champion of Europe, she competed at tournaments in Europe and the United States in the early 1900s. Her last years were spent with people who only visited her because they knew that they would find a pipe of opium or a sniff of cocaine. She died of a heart attack in a detoxification clinic in Austria.
8-08-1980 Michael Urie – Born in Dallas Texas. He is an American actor, presenter, director, and producer. He is best known for his portrayal of Marc St. James on the ABC drama-comedy series Ugly Betty. His performance in 2013’s one-man show Buyer & Cellar won him a Clarence Derwent Award. In 2009, Urie referred to himself as “a member of the LGBT community” on his website. In a 2010 interview with The Advocate, he said that he was in a relationship with a man and identifies as “queer.”