Thomas Mosmiller was born September 19th, 1947, in Baltimore, the youngest child in a traditional Irish-German Catholic immigrant family. Tom attended an all-boys Catholic high school, earned his bachelor’s degree from Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, MD, and entered a Jesuit seminary in Warnersville, Pennsylvania. But in the summer of 1970, Tom attended a community organizing training institute in Chicago that changed the trajectory of his life. For the first time, he realized he could fight for change and social justice outside the world of organized religion. He was on his way.
A few years later, Tom fell in love with a woman. She introduced Tom to feminism, helping him to realize how much he himself had been confined and oppressed by traditional attitudes about masculinity and maleness. Tom’s interest in men’s feminism led him to the Bay Area in 1976, where he got involved with the Berkeley Men’s Center, San Francisco gay politics, and a nationwide anti-sexist men’s movement working to redefine the meaning of masculinity. Within the men’s feminist movement, Tom came out and found acceptance as a bisexual man – whereas within the traditional gay community, his experiences ranged mostly from ridicule to rejection.
Tom subsequently helped found what became the National Organization for Men Against Sexism, and met sociologist Michael Kimmel. Together, they published the groundbreaking volume Against the Tide: Pro-Feminist Men in the United States, 1776-1990.
Around this time, AIDS began San Francisco. Tom took a job with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, coordinating one of the country’s first anonymous HIV antibody testing programs. From there, Tom moved over to San Francisco General Hospital, where he established an HIV counseling and testing program and secured funds for treating HIV+ substance abuse patients. In the late ‘90s, Tom turned his attention to issues of housing and homelessness in the minority HIV community. He served as coordinator for Alameda County’s Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS, and as a contract manager in Alameda County’s Office of AIDS Administration.
Tom doesn’t seem to have aged much since his seminary days. He’s soft spoken, with eyes that sparkle a bit as he talks. One might call him a quiet pioneer: a person who has endured pain, witnessed suffering, fought his fair share of battles, and is now enjoying a time of reflection and peace.