Michael Callen born 11 April 1955 (d. 1993)
Michael Callen was a singer, songwriter, composer, author, and AIDS activist. He was a significant architect of the response to the AIDS crisis in the United States.
First diagnosed with 'Gay related immune deficiency' (GRID) in 1982, Callen quickly became a leader in the response to the epidemic, coining the phrase 'people with AIDS' (PWAs) in contrast to the then current 'AIDS victims'. He was a founding member of the People with AIDS Coalition among other organisations, and he testified before the President's Commission on AIDS and both houses of Congress.
In 1983, Callen co-authored the book How to Have Sex in an Epidemic: One Approach, which outlined the tenets of safe(r) sex. 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.
In the early 80s, Callen was in a gay and lesbian four-piece band called Lowlife, playing piano and keyboards, singing, yodelling, twirling a baton, and dancing.
He was a well-loved singer and songwriter in the US gay community. He was a founding member of the gay male a cappella singing group, The Flirtations, with whom he recorded two albums. He also had a solo album, Purple Heart (Significant Other Records, 1988), which a review in The Advocate called, 'the most remarkable gay independent release of the past decade'. During the last year of his life, Michael worked furiously to record over 40 tunes; Legacy, a 2-CD album of 29 of them, was posthumously released by Significant Other Records in 1996.
In partnership with Oscar winner Peter Allen and Marsha Melamet, he wrote his most enduring song, Love Don't Need a Reason, which he sang frequently at gay pride and AIDS-related events around the country.
In 1993 he appeared in the films Philadelphia (as part of The Flirtations) and Zero Patience (as a singing transvestite virus, Miss HIV).
Callen died of AIDS-related complications in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 38.
Popular Themes and Searches
Academics Activists Actors Architects Aristocrats Artists Ballet Beat Generation Bisexuals Broadcasters Broadway Businessmen Choreographers Classical Music Comedians Composers Critics Dancers Death by suicide Death from HIV/Aids DJs Drag Fashion Designers Female Impersonators Film Film Directors Hollywood Illustrators Journalists Leftfield/Avant-Garde Military Men Musical Theatre Musicians Novelists Olympic Medalists Oscar Wilde Painters Photographers Playwrights Poets Politicians Popular Music Porn Stars Radio Screenwriters Singers Songwriters Sportsmen Television Theatre Theatre Directors Tony Award winners Victorians World War 2 World War I Writers