Saturday, April 11, 2009

Today in Gay History

Happy Birthday

Michael Callen b.April 11, 1955

d. December 27, 1993

Singer, songwriter, AIDS activist

Michael Callen was born Michael Lane Callen on Monday, April 11th, 1955, in Indiana.

His career as a singer, songwriter was cut short in the early 1980s when he was first diagnosed with Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID) in 1982. He quickly became a leader in the response to the epidemic, and an author. He is recognized as a co-inventor of safe(r) sex promotion and co-founder People With AIDS Self-Empowerment.

In 1983, Callen co-authored the book How to Have Sex in an Epidemic: One Approach, which outlined the tenets of safe sex, developed in collaboration with Richard Berkowitz and Dr. Joseph Sonnabend. In 1990, he wrote Surviving AIDS, which received an Honorable Mention from the American Medical Writers Association. He was frequently seen on television talking about AIDS. Appearances included Nightline, Good Morning America, 20/20, and The Phil Donahue Show. He wrote for several newspapers and magazines, including the Village Voice, The New York Native, and Outweek; some of his articles are collected in Surviving and Thriving with AIDS, published by the People with AIDS Coalition in 1988. Callen publicly denied the HIV as cause theory of AIDS and was especially critical of AZT mono-therapy when it was first introduced: "The HIV paradigm has produced nothing of value for my life and I actually believe that treatments based on the arrogant belief that HIV has proven to be the sole and sufficient cause of AIDS has hastened the deaths of many of my friends." see the video interview @ As an actor, Michael Callen was seen in a small supporting role as an AIDS patient in the movie Philadelphia, released in 1993. He died of AIDS-related complications in California December 27, 1993 at the age of 38. Had he lived another couple of years, he would have undoubtedly been convinced of the HIV cause of AIDS when Dr. David Ho pioneered the use of multiple drugs at the same time, setting the standard that thrives today and has saved the lives of millions of people.

Rest in peace, Michael, rest in peace.


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