Wednesday, August 26th from 12-1:30pm PST

Featuring Steve Silberman in conversation with Jesse Jarnow 


The communities of fans that grew up around improvising bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish evolved their own rituals and structures for shared psychedelic experience. Because these communities developed out of a heteronormative society that feared and stigmatized non-mainstream gender identities and romantic attachments, however, LGTBQ+ fans found themselves to be outsiders even in their own chosen tribes. As the first gay Deadhead to come out publicly in the 1980s, Steve Silberman will talk with psychedelic historian Jesse Jarnow about the overlooked gay contributions to the culture of the Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s, the roles of gay mentors to the hippie movement like Allen Ginsberg and Ram Dass, the challenges queer fans faced in a subculture that exalted traditional gender roles and explicitly homophobic groups like the Hells Angels, and the emergence of proudly out LGTBQ+ people in jamband fandoms in the 21st Century facilitated by the rise of social media. 

Steve Silberman is an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in Wired, the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Financial Times, the Boston Globe, the MIT Technology Review, Nature, Salon, Shambhala Sun, and many other publications. He is the author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (Avery 2015), which Oliver Sacks called a “sweeping and penetrating history…presented with a rare sympathy and sensitivity.” The book became a bestseller in the United States and the United Kingdom, and won the 2015 Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction, a California Book Award, and a Books for a Better Life award. It was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2015 by The New York Times, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Boston Globe, The Independent, and many other publications, and has been translated into 16 languages. In April 2016, Silberman gave the keynote speech at the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day. He has given talks at Yale, Harvard, MIT, Oxford, the National Academy of Sciences, Apple, Microsoft, Google, the 92nd Street Y, Imperial College London, the MIND Institute at UC Davis, and many other major institutions. His TED talk, “The Forgotten History of Autism,” has been viewed more than a million times and translated into 25 languages. Silberman also won a gold record from the Recording Industry Association of America for co-producing the Grateful Dead’s career-spanning box set So Many Roads (1965-1995), which was Rolling Stone’s box set of the year. His liner notes have been featured in recordings by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, the Jerry Garcia Band, and many other groups. As a young man, he was Allen Ginsberg’s teaching assistant at Naropa University. He lives with his husband Keith in San Francisco.

Jesse Jarnow is the author of Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America (Da Capo, 2016), Wasn’t That a Time: The Weavers, the Blacklist, and the Battle For the Soul of America (Da Capo, 2018), and Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock (Gotham, 2012). His work has appeared in Wired, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, the New York Times, the Village Voice, and elsewhere. Since 2008, he has hosted the weekly Frow Show on Jersey City independent radio station WFMU.

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