It’s likely that when I met Scott Giantvalley in the early 1980s, he already carried in his bloodstream the virus that would kill him before the end of the decade.

It was one of the perverse characteristics of the early AIDS epidemic that without a clear idea of how the virus was transmitted, much less a diagnostic test, we went about the mundane activities of life without knowing when or if an opportunistic infection would appear out of the blue, presenting AIDS’ grim calling card.

Red ribbon.
AIDS awareness ribbon. Photo: NIAID / Creative Commons.

There was nothing mundane about Scott’s life, however. An author, poet, playwright, journalist and scholar, he relished his creative and intellectual gifts, and put much of his energy into sharing them with the world.

In 1985 I interviewed Scott for IMRU, the weekly LGBT radio program at KPFK in Los Angeles. Scott’s play “Fracture” had just opened at the now-defunct Fifth Estate Theatre in Hollywood, becoming one of the first theatrical works to deal with the emerging AIDS crisis.

An audio recording of the interview with scenes from the play has been preserved by the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.

In 1986 Scott was hospitalized due to complications from AIDS but recovered enough to continue working as a professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills. The next year he completed his book on the playwright Edward Albee and put on a one-man performance piece, “Life After AIDS” at numerous venues in Southern California.

AIDS, it seems, could not break Scott’s creative spirit.

Before his death in March 1989, Scott donated his extensive collection of academic papers related to the poet Walt Whitman to the ONE Institute in Los Angeles. His partner of 15 years survives him.

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