Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Prodigious Talent Of The Late Michael Callen

20 years ago (20!) I accompanied my then boyfriend Simon, who was a research scientist working in AIDS (specifically education and its effect on gay men), to an international AIDS conference in Hobart, Tasmania. It was an amazing trip. I met some lovely people, learned heaps from the conference sessions, booed Wilson Tuckey (along with everyone else), participated in a civil disobedience act by informing the police I had committed (the then illegal) act of sodomy on Tasmanian soil, and even had dinner with a then very closeted (but now not) leading judge. 1988 was an amazing year, I was 24 and very much in love with Simon, it was the same year I backpacked around Europe and a year before I came to live in Sydney from Adelaide.

One of the highlights of the conference though was meeting the American singer Michael Callen. Even then Michael was considered a long term survivor of AIDS. Sadly, he passed away 5 years later in 1993 at the age of 38, but he left a legacy of fab work behind him, including cameos in the films "Philadelphia" and "Zero Patience".

Tasmanian activist (and part-time tour guide) Rodney Croome gave us a homo-tastic tour of the colonial penal institution at Port Arthur, and while we were on the bus there Michael very sweetly gave me a cassette of his latest album with a beautiful inscription in it. Basically saying that he wished he had had young role models like Simon and I when he was growing up. Here's his cover of "Where The Boys Are" from the very same album:

(Slightly NSFW, if you're watching this at work that is, in that the Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name calls out the f-bomb in the beginning.)

Sweet Babbie Jebus, that Michael could hit the right notes!

[Updated: I dragged out a couple of old photo albums last night to show Tall & Handsome some pics of me at the Berlin Wall in 1988, an lo there in the back of the album were some snaps from the conference and a couple of Michael. Awwww. Made me all nostaglic, it did.]


Graeme said...

Warning people about the F word at the beginning...SOOOOOOO Andrew. Any sweeter and you'd cause tooth decay!

Lucky there's more to you than meets the eye :-)

The Other Andrew said...

Sweeter than sugar, dirtier than mud. But you already know that!

dave said...

Very nice, the prayer wheel has just about hit full circle. Haven't seen you Wednesdays for a while !

The Other Andrew said...

Hey dave, I work in Alexandria, and getting to Lewisham is kind of hard. I will make the effort soon!