In Before They Left Us, Rosemary Ann Davis explores all the twists and turns of San Francisco’s streets on a mission to find her identity, both as a woman and as an artist. The Midwesterner finds herself in the warm embrace of a diverse community. She and her cronies experience not only the exhilarating final days of disco and the changing political scene, but also the jolting tremors of earthquakes and assassinations. Her sensuality and political activism blossom within this charged atmosphere.
In this firsthand account, Davis captures the people, politics, and history around her. From the news of the International Hotel’s demolition, to the assassinations of her neighborhood’s gay supervisor Harvey Milk and Democratic mayor George Moscone, to the onset of AIDS, Before They Left Us reveals one young woman’s leap from a blue-collar Catholic neighborhood in Milwaukee to California’s gay Main Street—the Castro. Later, she makes a series of trips from the Midwest back to California into those once and still gorgeous Victorians to tend her dying friends with AIDS. She learns that activism and art can help channel grief and that community is essential to surviving trauma.
After a long and fruitful career in video and film production, Rosemary Davis turned toward writing in 2000. She writes memoir, poetry, lyric essays, and travel. Obtaining an MFA degree in Writing from Hamline University in St. Paul, Rosemary honed her craft in creative nonfiction and poetry. While there she served on the editorial board of the Water~Stone Literary Review. Her nonfiction and poetry has been published in numerous literary journals, anthologies and online sources. In 2004-2005, Rosemary received a Loft Mentorship Series Fellowship, studying with six nationally known writers for a year.