First Openly Gay Congressman Endorses Freedman’s ‘Dying Words’

Samuel G. Freedman’s book Dying Words, an account of the groundbreaking AIDS reporting by New York Times journalist Jeff Schmaltz in the early 1990s, recently received a resounding endorsement from the nation’s first openly gay congressman.

Retired U.S. Congressman and gay rights pioneer Barney Frank (D-Mass.) recently endorsed CUNY author Samuel Friedman's book, "Dying Words."

Retired U.S. Congressman and gay rights pioneer Barney Frank (D-Mass.) recently endorsed CUNY author Samuel Friedman’s book, “Dying Words.”

Retired U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) offered words of high praise for Freedman’s Dying Words, calling it “an important part of the story of the fight for LGBT equality in America.

“‘The personal is the political’ is usually a meaningless cliché,” Frank added, ‘but in the case of ‘Dying Words’ it is a perfect description of the part the death of reporter Jeff Schmalz played in dispelling the ambivalence in The New York Times coverage of LGBT issues in general, and AIDS in particular.”

The book, subtitled The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How It Transformed The New York Times, will be published by CUNY Journalism Press this autumn. Sam Freedman, the author of several renowned nonfiction books, is a longtime award-winning professor at the Columbia Journalism School.

Schmalz, who was a journalistic prodigy at the Times, began his reporting career there before he finished college. He led the way in reporting on the HIV and AIDS crisis affecting the homosexual community in the 1980s and early 1990s at a time when homosexuality was stigmatized, even in the newsroom of the New York Times. Schmalz, who was closeted in the newsroom for much of his career, was outed when he collapsed of AIDS at the Times. He then devoted himself to coverage of AIDS and gay life before he died of AIDS in November of 1993 at the age of 39.

Dying Words chronicles the mark he left on journalism, the nation and the fight for equality, which reverberates to this day.

“(Dying Words) will come as a surprise even to many well-informed readers,” Frank added.

To support “Dying Words,” by donating to the Kickstarter campaign to publish the book and fund an audio documentary, click here.