Robert De Niro Opens Up About His Gay Father, Wishes He’d Done It Sooner

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.26.14 AMWell, one thing we likely wouldn’t have if the gay rights movement had happened fifty years earlier is Robert De Niro. So that’s something.

The legendary actor opens up about memories of his late NYC-based gay artist father in a a new documentary, Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr.

He told Out magazine:

“It was my responsibility to make a documentary about him. I was always planning on doing it, but never did. Then Jane Rosenthal, my partner at Tribeca [Enterprises], said, “We should start doing that now.” It was not intended to be on HBO. It was just something I wanted to do.”

De Niro Sr. grew up in a small upstate New York town and was conflicted with his sexuality his whole life, something De Niro Jr. wasn’t aware of until it was too late to talk to his dad about.

“I wish we had spoken about it much more. My mother didn’t want to talk about things in general, and you’re not interested when you’re a certain age.

Again, for my kids, I want them to stop and take a moment and realize that you sometimes have to do things now instead of later, because later may be 20 years from now—and that’s too late.”

The documentary follows his dad’s life while drawing comparisons to how drastically times have changed for gays in America. It includes intimate scenes like De Niro Jr. reading from his dad’s diary which details his struggles coping with his sexuality.

It’s also interesting to note that De Niro keeps his dad’s SoHo studio preserved to this day as a way of honoring his father.

“It was the only way to keep his being, his existence alive,’ De Niro said. ‘To me, he was always a great artist.”

Look for it on HBO on June 9th.

via Gay Star News

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  • Kangol

    I’m so glad to hear that Robert DeNiro Jr. is doing this, so kudos to him. It also will help to expand our understanding of LGBTQ people in the history of American art.

  • james_in_cambridge

    I’m a big fan of Mr. DeNiro and have much respect for him. Can’t wait for the documentary!

  • michael mellor

    If the gay tights movement had existed 60 years ago, Robert de Niro’s dad would probably have chosen to have a husband rather than a wife. Robert would never have been born.

    If men have even a tiny interest in women, perhaps it’s best to choose a wife and have children.

  • Andreusz

    @michael mellor: Because the world desperately needs more people.

  • Uncv1

    @Michael Mellor: I’m guessing you are probably much younger and have not had to struggle with your sexuality. I’m a gay dad from a straight relationship. I came out at 43, when my son was 10. When I got married, I didn’t think there was a choice for me at the time. For those of us who have been through that, it is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, was hurt the people I love. I had to be true to who I was. Now my son is accepting and my ex-wife is one of my best friends. Careful to make assumptions if you have never walked in my shoes.

  • Cam

    @michael mellor:

    You have attacked a lot of the posters on other threads and this comment here makes me think you have an anti-gay bent to you. Your comment is exactly what the Mormon Church, the Catholics and others demand. “We don’t care what you feel, just lie and get married”.

  • Jason b.

    UNCV1: I have always had mixed feelings about your experience as in the end you do have something many Gay men won’t have, children. You paid for it throuh a lot of heartache and pain, but in the end I imagine you wouldn’t change the past if it meant they weren’t part of your life, just a guess. I am 46, and the biggest gain I see for young gay men through all the legal and societal changes moving forward is the potential to have general model of what a gay family looks like. Straight folks take for granted that they have a high level example of what works and what doesn’t. There really is no standard a little boy can look at and envision what his life might look like when he shares it with another man, I expect that will change and has changed for gay teens entering adulthood now. I am a bit jealous.

  • Sansacro

    At 46, it’s hardly too late to have a family. Straight guys do it all the time.

    But you also romanticize. Plenty of straight folks follow the marriage and kids track simply because it’s expected. They think they have no choices. And I’ve seen plenty of straights get trapped into something they regret. Further, there are no guarantees. Plenty of families are anything but functional, and aging parents still live and die alone, with children who are indifferent or live far, far away.

    So construct the life you want. That, to me, has always been the strength and power of being gay.

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