Timing played a key role in all of Shilts’s success, and failures. His reporting and books on cutting-edge issues in the emerging gay liberation movement withstood strong push back on his work while establishing himself as an openly gay reporter in mainstream journalism. Shilts unapologetically approached his reporting as he had approached his earlier life – that information granted power and understanding and journalists played a key role in conveying that information. Important questions remain about whether Shilts helped or hindered the understanding of AIDS in the context of the gay community, with serious reservations raised about his use of the “Patient Zero” posit. He was praised, however, for advocacy for gay rights via Conduct Unbecoming.
Keywords: gay reporter, San Francisco Chronicle, Harvey Milk, Mayor of Castro Street, HIV transmission, AIDS, homosexual society, transgender, journalistic instincts, Catholic Church, child sexual abuse, Patient Zero, Gaetan Dugas, Michael Worobey, DADT, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, House Armed Services Committee, Barack Obama, President Obama, John McCain, gay bathhouses, gay liberation, journalism history, gay marriage, child adoption, non-discrimination policies, public accommodations
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