1945 - 1995

“The struggle for true openness and intimacy is a lifelong struggle for all of us, gay and straight alike. And besides, a difficult life brings you to the core of yourself, where you learn what justice is and how it has to be fought for.”

– Paul Monette

Paul Monette's literary career was promising. He had done a couple poetry books as well several gay novels like Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll (1978) and The Gold Diggers (1979). He was a capable writer, but he had not discovered his voice. When AIDS arrived, he found it. On the front lines of the epidemic he picked up his pen and began to capture the horror as it happened. When his boyfriend Roger Horwitz fell ill, Monette chronicled his agonizing demise – and his own fears – in Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir (1988). It received a National Book Critic's Circle Award nomination and won a Lambda Literary Award. That same year he released the poetry collection Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies for Rog. Explaining his profound productivity during this period Monette said, "When I got my diagnosis it was as if I suddenly had Big Ben inside of me. There was so much to say and I knew how little fame there might be." In 1990 he released the critically acclaimed AIDS novel Afterlife (1990) and buried a second lover. In 1991 he wrote another well-received AIDS novel, Halfway Home. In 1992 Monette released the memoir Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story. The uncompromising tale of his coming to terms with being a gay man went on to become the first LGBTQ studies title to win the National Book Award. He followed this with his brilliant book of essays, Last Watch of the Night (1994). Sadly, the following year, time ran out. In 1995 a major voice of the epidemic was silenced when Monette died of complications from HIV at age 49.


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch AIDS Era (1980-present) Information Age (1970-present)

Field(s) of Contribution




Social Justice


Commemorations & Honors

Lambda Literary Award For Gay Non-Fiction For Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir (1988)

Lambda Literary Award For AIDS For Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir (1988)

Lambda Literary Award For Gay Non-Fiction For Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story (1992)

National Book Award For Non-Fiction For Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story (1992)

Stonewall Book Award-Barbara Gittings Literature Award For Halfway Home (1992)

GLAAD Media Visibility Award (1992)

Monette-Horwitz Trust Established By Monette to Support Future LGBT Activism and Scholarship (1995)

Annual Monette-Horwitz Trust Awards Established (1998)


Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell