Bobby Reynolds

Bobby Reynolds was one of the most dynamic and original of AIDS activists in San Francisco. As a person living with AIDS, Bobby was instrumental in making AIDS a civic issue and did so through public speaking and appearing before various civic arenas. The front page coverage of Bobby’s passing in the Bay Area Reporter stated it bluntly, he humanized the politics of AIDS. Among his many avenues of doing so was Shanti Project.

A native San Franciscan, one of the most notable and sad part of Bobby’s story, however, was his willingness to open up his life to TV cameras and the media. He and his lover Mark were public about their status of living with AIDS. And Mark’s health deteriorated faster than Bobby’s. So, the contours of Bobby’s private life was inadvertently playing out on television, especially as Mark passed away. Alongside Bobby’s lost love was his strained relationship with his sister. When Bobby informed his sister that he had AIDS she and his brother in law decided to pull away from him, fearing that Bobby would somehow infect his pregnant sister. In one Shanti training, preserved on tape, Bobby uses this situation in a role play as an example of the immense psychological pain rejection due to one’s serostatus could bring to a person. After the birth of his niece and nephew, Bobby was still not permitted to have contact with them and his sister and his brother in law went as far as to be interviewed on television defending their decision. According to Jim Geary, who was a close friend of Bobby and encouraged his involvement in the project, they were able to heal this estrangement before Bobby passed away in 1987.

Bobby’s work at Shanti resulted in the creation of the People with AIDS Activity Program, or “The Fun Squad” as it originated.

You can read Bobby’s Bay Area Reporter obituary

One Reply to “Bobby Reynolds”

  1. Hi ! I love these people’s stories. Do tou have any pictures of Mark? Or know his last name? These men were really heros. The castro , these stories and these heroic men are amazing what they did for everyone in the future. Thank you all

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