Film: VITO - THE LIFE OF GAY ACTIVIST VITO RUSSO

Vito

On June 27, 1969, a police raid on a Greenwich Village gay bar called the Stonewall took a surprising turn when patrons decided it was time to fight back. As a riot erupted on Christopher Street, a new era in the Gay Rights Movement was born.

Vito Russo, a 23-year-old film student, was among the crowd. Over the next twenty years until his death from AIDS in 1990, Vito would go on to become one of the most outspoken and inspiring activists in the LGBT community’s fight for equal rights. He was a pivotal part of three well-known organizations during their formative years: GAA (Gay Activists Alliance), which staged subversive works of protest performance art to secure rights and dignity for all gay people; GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), formed to ensure that media representation of gays and lesbians was accurate; and ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power), a guerilla activist group that turned the fury over President Reagan’s refusal to do anything about AIDS into a series of highly telegenic acts of civil disobedience.

In the midst of his commitment to activism, Vito was also a prolific writer. His seminal book “The Celluloid Closet” explored the ways in which gays and lesbians were portrayed on film, what lessons those characters taught gay and straight audiences, and how those negative images were at the root of society’s homophobia.

Even before the book was published, Vito was taking “The Celluloid Closet” on the road, traveling to gay film festivals and college campuses for an entertaining and informative lecture-slash-clip show that intertwined Vito’s love of show business and radical gay politics. He continued writing, lecturing, speaking out and acting up until just months before his death.

On the day

Peter McGraithThe film will be introduced by Peter McGraith and time allowing there may be a short post-film discussed on the issues raised.

The cover charge of £5 is needed to pay for room and equipment hire plus film licensing costs. Any remainder supports Galha's charitable activities and is much needed.

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  • Arion D.

    The film was really interesting. Vito had quite an influance on our queer lives, his story really should be more widely disseminated in our community. But my take away quote would be from the discussion held after the film and I think it was "I was around in the fifties and it was hard for us straights too. We straight men weren't allowed to wear white shirts". Is that really what was said or did I just misunderstand?

    1 · September 14, 2013

    • Lynn

      Yes, Sun has got it right, that's what he was saying. The point that oppressive norms oppress everyone and are harmful not just to those who are being targeted, but that we all suffer because of this.

      2 · September 15, 2013

    • Arion D.

      Hi Guys
      Thank you for replying. I think I did hear the speaker correctly and I did take on board the point he was trying to make regarding the macho culture of the 50’s and 60’s.
      I appreciate the speaker was not making a comparison of how LGBT people were being treated by law-enforcement or the state and the federal government. Society, in the way it was persecuting LGBT people was getting some of its direction from the church and the state. After all it was only in 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.
      Vito struck me as very brave and forthright individual, who wasn’t willing to settle for second class citizenship. He was an inspirational person, I’m only sorry that I wasn’t aware of him before.

      September 23, 2013

  • Richard S.

    Thanks to the organisers for selecting such a great film and thanks to everyone for the thought provoking discussion. For anyone who found this film interesting I would also recommend "We Were Here" about the AIDS crisis in San Francisco and "The Cockettes" about the drag theatre group who lived in the Haight Ashbury.

    September 15, 2013

  • Lynn

    Really interesting to hear about Vito's work as I had seen his film but did not know his inspirational story.

    1 · September 13, 2013

    • Adam K.

      thanks for coming and your comments, Lynn

      September 14, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Very interesting & informative film/documentary. Good to know whete we stand now thanks to those people who did so much for our freedom.
    Good to know

    1 · September 13, 2013

  • Peter M.

    Hello I'm a lifelong atheist and humanist but have only just joined the group. Bringing two like-minded friends tomorrow. Looking forward to meeting you all.

    1 · September 12, 2013

    • Adam K.

      See you tonight Peter

      September 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    See u there guys!

    September 13, 2013

  • Derek L.

    Please note that we will be charging £5 for admission to this event.(payable on the day). Hope this is OK.

    August 30, 2013

  • Mady

    Many thanks!
    Mady

    August 19, 2013

  • Peter M.

    VITO is a well-researched documentary about a truly inspiring person. The film contains some excellent footage from the 1980s. I'm glad it is being screened by GALHA.

    2 · July 21, 2013

    • Adam K.

      Maybe you should introduce it for us Peter? :)

      August 15, 2013

  • Claudio N.

    thank you!

    August 8, 2013

  • Fred D.

    Official HBO website
    http://vitorussomovie.com/­

    August 4, 2013

  • Fred D.

    Trailer
    VITO Trailer - Gay rights documentary - Peccadillo Pictures
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...­

    August 4, 2013

52 went

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