1980s - San Francisco

Reggie and his new partner Tim Isbell (1948 -1998) had moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco and became members of the National Association of Black and White Men Together (NABWMT) in 1981. 

In the same year the first cases of an up to then unknown disease were diagnosed in gay men...

Read the complete article on the website of the CDC

Reggie became involved in BWMT's AIDS Task Force, being their co-chair since 1984.

 Reggie (on the left) at a Gay Pride March in San Francisco, 1980s  


He tested HIV-positive in 1986, at the age of 35. 

The same year the San Francisco AIDS Foundation launches a campaign: AIDS, It's What You Do, Not Who You Are. Reggie on the left of the poster! 


Reggie takes part in AIDS information films: AIDS at the Workplace

In 1987 Barbi Schreiber took a series of photos at Reggie's and Tim's home on Fillmore. Reggie said at that time: 

I have had a wonderful life – I can’t say that enough; if I had to die tomorrow it would be just fine, as I have lived – you have to have lived to be able to accept your own death. I’ve had a lot of love and support from my family, my lovers, my friends. I have been lucky enough to have been surrounded by wonderful people and have tried to circumvent those who have not been. > Read more 

Photo by Barbi Schreiber, 1987


1988 Reggie was one of the co-founders of the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention, the first nationwide organization targeting Black Gay men. Reggie served as the Task Force's Executive Director until his retirement in February 1994.

Please read the Mission Statement and their History and AIDS Prevention Goals.
The NTFAP existed until 1998.
In 1989 Reggie and Tim were quoted in an article by Marilyn Chase, Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal:

"Proving Positive: Many Who Risk AIDS Now Weigh Carefully Whether to Be Tested"
‘One effect of testing can be to put couples in a delicate and sometimes unexpected bind. Such was the experience of Reggie Williams and Tim Isbell of San Francisco. (...) Partners for seven years, they had disparate test results that took them by surprise.’
Read the article


In another article by Marilyn Chase, published 6/14/90: "Black Gay Men Found to Continue AIDS-Risk Activity " she cites Reggie Williams:

"While they've heard the message of AIDS, it hasn't translated into safe-sex behavior all the time," said study director Reggie Williams, executive director of the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention of the National Association of Black and White Men Together. Mr. Williams said he hoped the study would serve as a spur to fund more aggressive programs of outreach and education, designed to reach minority populations. Few of the survey respondents were aware, for example, that blacks die of AIDS at a five times faster rate than do whites, he said.
"Education programs need to be targeted to the black gay and bisexual communities," he said. "We hope that will help them to do what they need to do to save their lives." >>
Read the article 


1989/1990 - A group of five gay men of color (Douglas Yaranon, Phill Tingley, Rodrigo Reyes, Steve Lew and Reggie Williams) start the San Francisco Gay Men of Color Consortium.


1989 - After his release from prison, Simon Nkoli, South African Gay Anti-Apartheid Activist, visits the United States on a 13-city fundraising tour for the US-based Zulu AIDS project.

Photo by Julie Potratz, 1989


In Their Own Words
NIH Researchers Recall the Early Years of AIDS
How can you tell that a patient has a previously unknown disease?
How do you care for someone with a mysterious illness–and protect yourself as well?
How do you investigate the cause of a new disease, and find ways to treat and prevent it?

In Their Own Words documents how NIH researchers answered such questions when asked to recall the early days of HIV/AIDS
San Francisco Gay Pride 1981 
a compilation of Gay Pride posters from 1970 on! 

One Life for Another: The Survivor's Story, with photographs (1987) by Barbi Schreiber
Dressing Up History - Gay stories come alive at historical society (2001)
... One poignant photograph at the exhibit -- of activist Reggie Williams (1951-1999) -- speaks volumes. Behind his handsome portrait is the story of a hero, one of the few who dared to be publicly recognized as a person with AIDS in a time when the HIV infection was still considered a "gay plague" that could get you evicted or fired. ... > Read the article
Finding Aid to the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention, 1986-1994 Collection Summary
Collection is open for research.

Fall of the Berlin Wall - BBC News November 1989

GLBT Historical Society Museum
Castro Branch Exhibit

499 Castro Street (at 18th St.)

The GLBT Historical Society presents Passionate Struggle: Dynamics of San Francisco's GLBT History at its new Castro Street location. This groundbreaking exhibit details the places, politics, passions, and people that have produced the possibilities for the diverse queer lives we now live. It will be open through October 2009.

Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 12pm-8pm
             Sundays, 12pm-6pm

Community Free Day - 1st Wednesday of every month at the Castro Street Branch




History and Science of HIV & AIDS
AIDS Timeline
UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library
History and Special Collections Division