Michael Callen Can Still Teach Us Things
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Published in: January-February 2021 issue.


Michael Callen. Joel Sokolov photo.

MICHAEL CALLEN was a force of the universe. As an important first-generation AIDS activist and longtime survivor, groundbreaking queer musician, buzzing gadfly to the powerful, member of the beloved gay men’s vocal ensemble The Flirtations, and co-inventor of Safe Sex, Michael Callen touched the lives and hearts of queer folk profoundly in the 80s and 90s. I knew Michael for many years in New York and was one of his primary caregivers during his inspiring last act in L.A.

Matthew J. Jones’ remarkable new biography, Love Don’t Need a Reason: The Life & Music of Michael Callen (Punctum Books), is a powerful telling of Mike’s journey and achievements. About what drew him so strongly to tell Mike’s story, Jones remarked: “At 42, I inhabit a generational sliver that missed the epidemic but grew up in its shadow. With no gay male role models, we pieced together ourselves, community, and history from cultural scraps: books, movies, media, nascent archives and social worlds online; any bits helped us connect the dots.”

            Jones’ book deepens that soulful work of “connecting the dots” and building the queer lineage of how we understand who we are and where we are going. I spoke with him about this labor of love that he has now shared with us.

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Tim Miller is a solo performer and the author of A Body in the O and 1001 Beds.