31 DAYS OF QUEERSTORY

WATCH: James Franco Examines Last Hours Of Murdered Gay Icon Sal Mineo

October is LGBT History Month and to celebrate, Queerty’s gaying up each day with our 31 Days of Queerstory.

Since October is officially recognized as LGBT history month, it’s the ideal time to learn about pioneering gay actor Sal Mineo, the subject of James Franco‘s new art project film Sal.

For the uninitiated, Mineo was an Italian heartthrob who won fame and an Academy Award nomination as a closeted teen swooning over James Dean in the 1955 classic Rebel Without A Cause. His curly dark hair and cherubic features quickly made him a teen idol, but despite a second Oscar nod for the 1960 epic Exodus, Mineo found fame to be fleeting. After more or less coming out as gay in the late ’60s, Mineo’s career took a serious nose dive and the once-acclaimed actor was reduced to guest spots on TV dramas and appearing in gay-themed plays such as Fortune and Men’s Eyes.

Sal, based on a portion of writer Michael Gregg Michaud’s brilliant, definitive 2011 book about the actor (do yourself a favor and buy a copy), is not a traditional biopic in any sense. Director Franco takes an intimate look at the hours leading up to Mineo’s random, tragic murder in 1976 outside his apartment in West Hollywood. Val Lauren, who also made waves costarring opposite Franco in the gay-themed docudrama Interior. Leather Bar,  delivers a magnetic, riveting performance as the gone-too-soon title character.

You can watch Sal on VOD and iTunes October 22, or in select theaters beginning November 1 in Los Angeles at the Sundance Sunset Cinema.