Early years of Randy Shilts’s life in Aurora, Illinois are explored, struggles with physical abuse from an alcoholic mother, and frequently absent father. Information about the Shilts family and arrival of six sons over a 25-year period. Shilts’s early engagement of Young Americans for Freedom and conservative/libertarian ideas posited by his father. Examples of Shilts’s earliest writing for a student newspaper on the draft and the Vietnam War. Shilts’s relocation to Portland, Oregon and enrollment in community college where he “came out” as part of a class presentation. Shilts’s struggle with discrimination and scorn based on his sexuality and his first forays into the gay liberation movement.
Keywords: Aurora Illinois, Kalamazoo Michigan, Betty Friedan, World War II, alcoholism, United Methodist Church, Boy Scouts of America, Aurora Beacon-News, Young Americans for Freedom, Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley Jr, M. Stanton Evans, Ayn Rand, Aurora West High School, Vietnam war, military draft, Aurora College, Portland Community College, Portland Oregon, Galesburg Michigan, coming out, University of Oregon, Mattachine Society, Harry Hay Jr, Gay Liberation Front
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