Randy Shilts was born in 1951, in Davenport, Iowa. One of the first openly gay journalists hired at a major newspaper, he worked for the San Francisco Chronicle for thirteen years. He died of AIDS in 1994 at his home in the Sonoma County redwoods in California. He was the author of The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982), And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic (1987), and Conduct Unbecoming: Lesbians and Gays in the U.S. Military (1993). He also wrote extensively for many major newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Esquire, The Los Angeles Times, and The Advocate.