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Vito Russo Biography
Vito Russo is an American Film Historian, LGBT Activist, Author, who is best known for his book ‘The Celluloid Closet.’
He’s also produced and co-hosted a series focusing on the gay community called ‘Our Time’ for WNYC-TV.This series featured the nation’s first GLBT hard news and documentary video segment produced and directed by social behaviourist D.S.Vanderbilt.
Vito Russo Age
Vito Russo was born in on 11th July 1946 in New York City and died on 7th November 1990 at the age of 44 years.
Vito Russo Life And Career
Russo obtained his undergraduate degree from Fairleigh Dickson University and went on to receive his Master’s in film at New York University. While earning his Master’s, Russo was also working with the film departments at a Gay Community Center and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. It was his interaction with these communities that led to the synthesis of his politics and works.
Russo developed his material following screenings of camp films shown as fundraisers for the Gay Activists Alliance. He traveled throughout the country from 1972 to 1982, delivering The Celluloid Closet as a live lecture presentation with film clips at colleges, universities, and small cinemas such as the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco and the Hirschfeld Biograph in Dublin. In both the book and in the lecture/film clip presentation, he related the history of gay and lesbian moments – and the treatment of gay and lesbian characters – in American and foreign films of the past.
In 1983, Russo wrote, produced, and co-hosted a series focusing on the gay community called Our Time for WNYC-TV public television. This series featured the nation’s first GLBT hard news and documentary video segment produced and directed by social behaviorist D. S. Vanderbilt.
Russo’s concern over how LGBT people were presented in the popular media led him to co-found the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), a watchdog group that monitors LGBT representation in the mainstream media and presents the annual GLAAD Media Awards. The Vito Russo Award is named in his memory and is presented to an openly gay or lesbian member of the media community for their outstanding contribution in combating homophobia. Russo was also actively involved in the AIDS direct action group ACT UP.
Russo appeared in the 1989 Academy Award-winning documentary Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt as a “storyteller,” relating the life and death of his lover Jeffrey Sevcik.
In 1990 Vito Russo spent a year in California at the University of California, Santa Cruz, teaching a class, also entitled “The Celluloid Closet”. He enjoyed being a professor, spending lecture breaks smoking and joking with his students.
Also in 1990, Merrill College at UC Santa Cruz established Vito Russo House to promote Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender awareness and provide a safe and comfortable living environment for queer, straight-supportive and all students who value and appreciate diversity. The house tailors its programming to meet the needs of LGBT students and offers all an opportunity to build understanding and tolerance.
Vito Russo Legacy And Death.
Russo was diagnosed with HIV in 1985, and died of AIDS-related complications in 1990. His work was posthumously brought to television in the 1996 HBO documentary film The Celluloid Closet, co-executive produced and narrated by Lily Tomlin.
After his death there was a memorial in Santa Cruz put on by students and colleagues. There were testimonials about how inspirational he had been and en masse, the group sang “Over the Rainbow” in his memory.
Russo’s papers are held by the New York Public Library.
In 2016, Russo was inducted into the Legacy Walk.
From 1969 until his death, he lived at 401 West 24th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan.
Vito Russo Quotes
You can’t plead tolerance for gays by saying that they’re just like everyone else. Tolerance is something we should extend to people who are not like everyone else.”
2.“Any story dealing, however seriously, with homosexual love is taken to be a story about homosexuality while stories dealing with heterosexual love are seen as stories about the individual people they portray.
4.“If I’m dying from anything, it’s from indifference and red tape.”
5.“American society has willfully deleted the fact of homosexual behavior from its mind, laundering things as they come along, in order to maintain a more comfortable illusion. The censors removed it; the critics said, “Well, look! It isn’t there”; and anyone who still saw it was labeled a pervert”
Glaad Vito Russo Award
1992 – Jennie Livingston
1998 – k.d. lang
1999 – RuPaul
2000 – Cecilia Dougherty
2001 – Liz Smith
2002 – Nathan Lane
2003 – Rosie O’Donnell
2004 – Cherry Jones
2005 – Alan Cumming
2006 – David LaChapelle
2007 – Tom Ford
2008 – Brian Graden
2009 – Suze Orman
2010 – Cynthia Nixon
2011 – Ricky Martin
2012 – Craig Zadan and Neil Meron
2013 – Anderson Cooper
2014 – George Takei
2015 – Thomas Roberts
2017 – Billy Porter
2018 – Samira Wiley
2019 – Andy Cohen