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Early Gay Liberation Movement at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 1971-1978
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Michael Birdsley

The top image is Michael's obituary from the obituary page of the B.A.R., a local, weekly, San Francisco gay newspaper. For those who didn't live through this, simple multiplication of even this one page times week after week after week will give you some indication of the epidemic. (And of course not everybody had an obituary in the B.A.R.!) The letter from Open Hand was created word-for-word from an original, which was not clearly scanned.

Michael Birdsley - Obituary

Michael S. Birdsley
March 24, 1953 - July 20, 1988

Michael passed away at home in the company of his friends and lover in the early morning of July 20. For 16 months he had fought the effects of Pneumocystis carnirii pneumonia and Kaposi's sarcoma.

Born and raised in Council Bluffs, Iowa, he graduated from Iowa State University in 1975. After living in Chicago for several years, he moved to San Francisco in 1983. Mike worked as a buyer for UCSF's Material Management Department. He is survived by his parents, two brothers, and a sister, who all live in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area.

Michael is missed by those who knew and loved him. He was caring, liked people, and had a special humor which made him a joy to be around. His remains were cremated and the ashes scattered beyond the Golden Gate Bridge by the City he dearly loved.

22 July 1988

Dear Friends,

It is with deep sadness that I must inform the friends of Michael Steven Birdsley that Mike passed away on July 20, 1988. I hope that you can find some comfort in the knowledge that Michael died peacefully at home and in his sleep, in the company of friends and loved ones. IN his last days, Mike was also attended by his parents, Elaine and Norman Birdsley, of Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Mike had been ill for the past fourteen months, although he remained active and in good spirits throughout his illness. Those of us around him during that time were moved by his good humor, his consideration for others, his kindness, and his courage.

Michael had wished that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations could be made in memory at the following address:

Open Hand
1668 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

I regret that a personal letter could not be sent to all of you who mourn Michael's passing. As you might expect, the sheer number of Mike's friends is such as to make it impossible to write each of you individually. If you feel that you need more information, or if I can be of any assistance in this time of loss, do not hesitate to contact me at the address below.


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