Bill Kraus

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Bill Kraus

William James "Bill" Kraus (June 26, 1947 – January 25, 1986[1]) was an American gay rights and AIDS activist and congressional aide who served as a liaison between the San Francisco gay community and Congress in the 1980s.

Kraus was a 1965 graduate of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. He attended Dartmouth for a semester and then Ohio State University in 1968, where he graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in history.[2] He went on to become an aide to U.S. Representatives Phillip and Sala Burton.

Upon arriving in Castro Street in San Francisco, he learned the meticulous nature of politics through Harvey Milk, who was the first elected gay city supervisor. Bill Kraus would be the president of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club. After Milk's assassination, Kraus would help Harry Britt to be elected as Milk's successor to city supervisor.

He garnered a job as gay liaison to Congressman Phillip Burton. Together, they worked on legislation and funding to fight "gay cancer," later to be named AIDS. Through the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, Kraus conducted a "safe-sex" campaign, endlessly trying to bring awareness to the gay community of the dangers of unsafe sexual intercourse. Part of their campaign was demanding the closing of San Francisco's gay bathhouses. Kraus was hit back with criticism from the gay community, being called a "sexual Nazi."[3]

After a bitter fight for gay rights, Bill Kraus was diagnosed with AIDS on October 1, 1984. He traveled to Paris to be treated with a drug that at the moment was believed to help AIDS patients boost their immune system called HPA-23, but it proved useless. He was there when actor Rock Hudson also traveled to Paris for the same reason.[3] Kraus died from AIDS on January 25, 1986, aged 38.[1]

He also appeared in the documentary film The Times of Harvey Milk. He was also a central person in Randy Shilts' book And the Band Played On. In 1993, the book was adapted as an HBO movie, with Sir Ian McKellen playing Kraus. The movie dramatized with artistic license, both the book and the real events in the life of Bill Kraus.


  1. ^ a b And the Band Played On HBO Movie
  2. ^ Whitehead, Shelly (September 10, 1993). "Major character in movie was raised here" (fee required). The Kentucky Post (E. W. Scripps Company). p. C1. Retrieved September 13, 2009. Bill Kraus attended St. Xavier High School (Class of '65, Forensics Club and the National Honor Society), Dartmouth for a semester and then Ohio State, where he received both his undergraduate and master's degree in history. 
  3. ^ a b Shilts, Randy (December 2007) [1987]. And the Band Played on: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (Twentieth Anniversary ed.). St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-37463-1. Retrieved 2009-09-08.