Bill Wilson — Not-So-Straight From the Archives

This series is based on photos from my archives of famous and not so well known people that I have taken photos of over the years. Since I had originally thought I might call this the ABC’s of Gay History the subjects will be in alphabetical order.

Muhammad Ali at a reception in the US Senate Caucus Room. 1970’s

I don’t know why I am so eager to retell the story behind this photo because it is one of the more embarrassing moments in my life, but I always end up with a smile so I tell it. Muhammad  Ali was the guest of honor at reception sponsored by Senator Huddleston (D-Ky.) held in the US Senate Caucus Room. The room was very crowded as he made his way around the room. Trying to stay close enough to get some good photos I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see Ethel Kennedy who asked me if I would mind taking a photo of her with Ali. Of course I said, “Yes!” When Ali noticed her she asked if she could get a photo. He agreed and they turned to me. You have to understand that Ethel Kennedy is about five feet and Ali is over six feet so to get them in the same photo I had to back up. As I’m trying to back up I realize that there are hundreds of people watching me so I got really nervous. When I get nervous my hands start to shake. Noticing this Ali says, “Don’t worry you have no reason to be nervous.”  That of course only made me more nervous. So Ali comes toward me and takes my hand in his and says, “It’s okay.” By this time everyone is laughing and I’m turning what must have been the deepest red on record.


Former NBA, John Amaechi and Ambassador James Hormel at AmFAR’s Fall  Gala on November 1, 2007. 

This picture also posed the same problem of differences in heights except that without hundreds of people crowding around the solution was much easier. John Amaechi is a former NBA player who came out in 2007. He joins a rather limited list of retired athletes who came out. Among them are former NFL players Esera Tuaolo , Roy Simmons , and Dave Kopay , and former Major League Baseball players Glenn Burke and Billy Bean. The photo was taken of John Amaechi and Ambassador James Hormel at the AmFAR (American Foundation for Aids Research) Fall Gala in 2007.


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