Michael J. Williams was born in Virginia on 4 February 1958. After graduating from San Francisco State University in 1985, he took a Masters degree from the University of California at Davis. He was chair of the Gay Rights Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. Williams died of AIDS related causes on 23 April 1991.
The collection consists entirely of notebooks kept by Williams from 28 December 1980 through 8 May 1990, and is comprised of diary entries, astrological charts, calendars, outgoing and incoming correspondence, postcards, poems, photographs, lists, and such pieces of attached ephemera as tickets, programs, and invitations. The latter notebooks have few diary entries, and consist chiefly of correspondence, calendars, and postcards.
The diary entries and correspondence feature Williams' reflections on and expressions of gay life and love, his work in and doubts about graduate school, his love of nature and care for the natural environment, and his attention to friendships and family relations. A principal topic of the notebooks and the diaries is AIDS and the effects of the disease on his friends and in the gay community. There are several AIDS death notices in the notebooks. The notebooks chronicle Williams' coping with the AIDS related illnesses and death of his lover Mike Kurtz, and include Williams' thoughts on the disease. As he has elsewhere apostrophized the moon in letters in his diary, Williams also addresses Kurtz some time after the latter's death. After his own contraction and treatment of the disease, Williams describes the effects on his life of testing positive for HIV, .... He participated
in the University of California at San Francisco's AIDS Behavioral Research Project, and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation's Study of the Costs of AIDS Patients.
Throughout the notebooks, his family is sympathetic, especially his father and his sister; his chief correspondent is a woman who was his first girlfriend. Williams' infatuation with a man named Tony is also chronicled in letters to and from the subject, and in diary entries. Williams' concerns with the moon and its influence on him are carefully noted, both in prose and in detailed charts. He is addressed in several pieces of correspondence as Wander-Moon, or Wander, Wander, and Wanda-Luna.