IDENTIFICATION AND BIO:
Songwriter, Singer, AIDS Activist, Author
Founding member of the male vocal group The Flirtations
Michael Callen was an AIDS activist before there was an AIDS movement. From the time of his diagnosis with Gay Related Immune Deficiency in 1982, he was involved in virtually all of the positive responses to the epidemic, including the self-empowerment of people with AIDS; the invention of safer sex; the community-based research movement; development of prophylaxis for major opportunistic infections; and the establishment of buyer's clubs providing low-cost access to both experimental and approved AIDS treatments. Callen coined the term "people with AIDS" (PWAs) to replace the early characterizations of AIDS victims, thus laying the foundation for the PWA self-empowerment movement. Callen emphasized that people could live with AIDS and continue to make significant contributions to society despite their diagnosis.
Callen was a founding board member of the People with AIDS Coalition, the Community Research Initiative, the National Association of People with AIDS, the PWA Health Group, the New York City Mayor's Interagency Task Force on AIDS, the New York State AIDS Institute, and The New York City Gay & Lesbian Community Center. He testified before the President's Commission on AIDS, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the New York State Legislature, the New York City Council and the Australian AIDS Council.
He was a noted and influential writer on AIDS and the politics of sexuality. His efforts in defining and promulgating safe sex guidelines were documented in Randy Shilts' book And the Band Played On. Through appearances on various news shows, such as Nightline, Good Morning America and 20/20 and a variety of talk shows, such as The Phil Donahue Show and Geraldo, Callen gave AIDS a human face. He also appeared in several films and documentaries, including the Hollywood AIDS movie Philadelphia and the HBO documentary Why Am I Gay? Callen also sang in John Greyson's movie Zero Patience.
Callen's work was recognized by several national organizations. He received awards from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay and Lesbian Press Association, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others. On December 1, 1993 he received the City of Los Angeles Lifetime Achievement Award. The Contemporary A Cappella Society of America named him A Cappella Artist of the Year in 1994.
Callen was a popular singer and composer in the gay community and his AIDS activism had a major influence on his music. His song "Living in Wartime," an AIDS battle cry from his Purple Heart CD, was featured in the original production of Larry Kramer's play The Normal Heart. Callen also wrote, with Peter Allen and Marsha Malamet, "Love Don't Need a Reason," which he sang at numerous gay and AIDS-related events.
adapted from Callen website
How To Have Sex In An Epidemic: One Approach, a 40-page pamphlet, generally recognized as the world's first guide to safe(r) sex.
Surviving And Thriving With AIDS: Volumes I & II, collection of articles by Callen and others mostly culled from the pages of the PWA Coalition Newsline, the world's first publication by and for people with AIDS (PWAs), which Callen started and edited for many years;
Surviving AIDS, collection of writings and speeches from eight years of activism. Nominated for a Trade Book of the Year award by the American Medical Writers Association. (HarperCollins, 1990: ISBN 06-016148-5)
SELECTED ARTICLES & SPEECHES
"We Know Who We Are," New York Native, Fall 1982.
Essay in AIDS: Cultural Analysis, Cultural Activism (MIT Press, 1987).
Essay in The State of the Language (University of California Press, 1990).
Numerous other articles for the Village Voice, New York Native and Outweek, among other newspapers and magazines.
The following articles by Callen are available on-line, with links through the Michael Callen /Significant Other website (listed under Resources):
"Against ‘Drugs Into Bodies'" (1990).
"To the American Public Health Association Convention in Las Vegas" (1986).
To the New York Congressional Delegation" (1983).
"Point Counterpoint on AIDS and Promiscuity" (1983). Real video excerpts from television show hosted by Vito Russo, featuring Mike and Charles Jurrist.
"Not Everyone Dies of AIDS," Village Voice (1988).
"A History of the PWA Self-Empowerment Movement" (1988).
"Challenging the Proposition of Female to Male Transmission" (1987).
"In Defense of Anal Sex" (1989).
"Mike Goes to the Baths" (1984). Notes for a piece never written.
Purple Heart - Significant Other SO 881D-2 (1988)
Where The Boys Are (Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka)
Me & Dickie D (Callen)
Living In Wartime (Callen)
How To Have Sex (Callen)
Take It Easy (Joel Forrester, additional lyrics by Callen)
Love Don't Need A Reason (Peter Allen, Michael Callen and Marsha Malamet)
Small Town Change (David Lasley and Don Yowell)
Nobody's Fool (Callen)
On The Other Side (music by Michael Callen, lyrics by Callen and Robert Butler)
Talkin' Old Soldiers (Elton John and Bernie Taupin)
(I'd Like To Be) Home (Bill Russell and Ronald Melrose)
Legacy - posthumous release, two-CD set, Significant Other SO 951 (1996)
Love Worth Fighting For (Callen and Marsha Malamet)
Redefine The Family (The Census Song) (Callen)
Better In The Moonlight (Callen/Richard Dworkin)
Sunday Morning/Right As The Rain (Peter Allen) / (Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg)
Two Men Dance The Tango (Tom Judson)
Glitter And Be Gay (Bernstein/Richard Wilbur)
My Imagination (Callen)
Crazy World (Callen)
We've Had Enough (Callen)
No No (Callen)
Grade B Movie (Carole Pope and Kevan Staples, additional lyrics by Callen)
Warm As The Wind (Don Paul Yowell)
Kerosene Lantern (Judy Mayhan)
Sometimes Not Enough (Mancini and Mancini)
They Are Falling All Around Me (Bernice Johnson Reagon)
Wish I Had a Dime (Don Paul Yowell)
Yes I'll Take My Chances (Don Paul Yowell)
Nothing Lasts Forever (Phillip Johnston)
See Here (Judy Mayhan)
Healing Power of Love (Callen and Marsha Malamet)
Roundabout (Ogden Nash and Vernon Duke)
Street of Dreams (Callen)
Mother Mother (Cris Williamson)
Do Not Turn Away (John Bucchino)
One More Lullabye (Dennis Green/ Marsha Malamet)
Goodbye (Elton John and Bernie Taupin)
Smile (Charles Chaplin/ John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons)
Sacred (Steve Sandberg)
With guest artists: Holly Near, Cris Williamson, Tom Robinson, Tret Fure, David Lasley, Arnold McCuller, Fred Hersch, John Bucchino and Steve Sandberg.
Received nine nominations and four awards in the 1996 Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards.
WITH THE FLIRTATIONS
The Flirtations (Flirt Records, 1990)
Live: Out On The Road (Flirt Records, 1992)
Original Soundtrack, On the Road (1995)
Romanovsky & Phillips: Be Political, Not Polite (1991)
Cris Williamson/Tret Fure: Postcards from Paradise (1994)
Original Soundtrack: Zero Patience (1994)
Various Artists, Feeding the Flame: Songs by Men to End AIDS (1990)
- Randy Shilts, And The Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (St. Martin's Press, 2000: ISBN 0312241356).
PERFORMING RIGHTS AFFILIATION:
BMI (publisher: Tops and Bottoms Music)
Significant Other Records
P.O. Box 1341 Old Chelsea Station
New York, NY 10113
Richard Dworkin (companion and executor)
130 West 16th Street Apt. 24
New York, NY 10011
Musical archives with Richard Dworkin.
Michael Callen Papers (19711990), relating to his work with AIDS activism and with community based organizations:
National Archive of Lesbian and Gay History
The Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center, Inc.
208 West 13th Street, New York 10011
The Michael Callen-Audre Lorde Community Health Center is New York's only medical facility dedicated to meeting the health care needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and people living with HIV/AIDS.
The Michael Callen Award for outstanding achievements by a gay or lesbian musician was given annually by The Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards (GLAMAs) from 1997 to 2000.