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HBO’s Vito Unites The Personal And Political Passions Of Activist Vito Russo

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By:           Dan Avery
On:           Jul 21, 2012
Tagged: , , , , , , ,
  • 17 Comments
    • Michael Bedwell
      Michael Bedwell

      LONG overdue tribute. I was honored to meet him in 1975 when his “Celluloid Closet” presentation—which he, then, could only schlep around on a closely guarded reel of 16mm film—was a sensation at that year’s Gay Awareness Conference at Indiana University which I helped organize and chaired, and Vito wrote about for “The Advocate.” If the documentary has actual video footage of the ’73 NY pride confrontation during which Midler sang “Friends” accompanied by Barry Manilow on piano, I will be additionally thrilled as one of my treasures all these years has been the audio he sent me of her performance, and comments about listening on the radio on her way there, and it sounding like people were beatin’ each other up.

      And while I adore her, I’m also intrigued to see how Lily Tomlin will be introduced, and what she’ll say. One of Vito’s frutrations he shared with me in ’75 was her refusal to listen to his urgings to publicly come out; fearful, as I recall, of hurting her family. In 1977, covering the American Film Institute’s 10th Anniversary Gala for a DC gay rag, I said Hello to her, asked for her autograph on the program, and, as she was signing, mentioned I knew Vito. She immediately looked me in the eye, her eyes frozen with fear, but saying nothing. I simply said Thank You, and moved away, both shocked and saddened. Given—no matter HOW many ways she tries to spin it—she didn’t finally come out to MSM until 11 years after he’d died. I’ve often wondered how his never living to see it makes her feel.

      Jul 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Drew
      Drew

      Who?

      Jul 21, 2012 at 11:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Paul Jenkins
      Paul Jenkins

      Beautiful!

      GAY PRIDE…have it and know our communities amazing history. Just because the heteros want you to be ignorant to it doesn’t mean you have to be.

      Jul 22, 2012 at 4:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Marianne Seggerman
      Marianne Seggerman

      I had the privilege of attending a lecture and demonstration he gave in the early 90’s. Watching Bugs Bunny cartoons with his commentary – unforgettable.

      Jul 22, 2012 at 6:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David Ehrenstein
      David Ehrenstein

      And I had the privilege of working alongside Vito in the “Media Comittee” of the Gay Activists Alliance back in the day.

      I also had the privilege of appearing in this movie.

      Jul 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brandon
      Brandon

      Sad he couldn’t be still around to witness the historic day in San Diego of our military men and women proudly marching in the parade.

      Jul 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Matt
      Matt

      Beautiful brave man. I used to be soo ignorant to our LGBT communities rich history, struggles, champions, poems, art, history until a few years ago when Prop 8 failed. It woke me up, and made me a farrr better person to be educated on our history and realize how beautiful our story is. Everyone should experience that same feeling.

      Jul 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • quinamo
      quinamo

      Amazing!

      The sad thing is that the same fight is still going.. with different shape.. but the same fight

      Jul 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David Ehrenstein
      David Ehrenstein

      Here’s a link to a rather positive NYT review

      http://tv.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/arts/television/vito-a-documentary-about-vito-russo-on-hbo.html

      Jul 23, 2012 at 9:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • smithsmith30
      smithsmith30

      http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/blog/2011/06/book-review-the-celluloid-closet-by-vito-russo.html

      Long overdue critique of The Celluloid Closet. Shoddy scholarship at best.

      Jul 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • smithsmith30
      smithsmith30

      I meant the book’s was.

      Jul 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • EvonCook
      EvonCook

      @Drew: Who? Whatever you mean by that. Vito Russo who? Live and learn and perhaps, just perhaps, you’ll be spared from making the same mistakes. Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it. Vito was a friend and fine person, a great community leader and someone who should be known, remembered and respected in the annuals of gay history.

      Jul 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LadyL
      LadyL

      “A bigot is someone who resents losing control of a world he thought belonged to him.”–from “The Celluloid Closet.” Truer words have never been spoken.

      Jul 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael Bedwell
      Michael Bedwell

      @smithsmith30:

      The author of your “so-called critique of The Celluloid Closet,” reads like nothing more than a bitchy queen whom Russo might have refused to trick with. Or, if not old enough to have been in that category, simply someone pissed to her green gills because someone else is famous and she is not. As for her cherry picking whining about Russo leaving out Visconti and Fassbinder, his focus was on the influence of films that the average American MIGHT HAVE ACTUALLY SEEN. “Shoddy scholarship at best” describes the article far more than its subject.

      Jul 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John D., LV
      John D., LV

      This new HBO documentary on Vito Russo is a must see. He is an inspiration to all and his life story is an example to those struggling to find acceptance and equality. HBO did amazing work with very detailed accounts of gay history. Again, I couldn’t stop watching and brought tears of pride and respect. Thank you Vito Russo, a modern day crusader, and a hero! John

      Jul 24, 2012 at 10:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David Ehrenstein
      David Ehrenstein

      @Michael Bedwell: SING OUT LOUISE!

      Jul 24, 2012 at 11:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • red
      red

      Must see documentary! Saw it yesterday and I was left in awe.

      Jul 26, 2012 at 2:26 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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