VITO US (1990)

Cinema Queer by Marcelino Rosas

The story of Vito Russo, one of the founding fathers of the gay liberation movement, author of The Celluloid Closet, and vociferous AIDS activist in the 1980s.

Why do I like it? Why do I recommend it?

I first came across Russo’s name reading his book The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies. This is an important chronicle making clear that, however subtly — and sometimes overtly — gays have been present not just behind but also in front of the cameras since the very earliest days of the film industry. I later watched the documentary film of the same title based on this impressively researched book (a film I should probably review in its own right in a follow-on post, it’s that good).

But it was through Russo’s activism that he made his most significant & lasting contributions to our lives as queer men & women, whether cis or trans.

Russo was an important member of our community who aggressively and unapologetically fought for our rights. That’s why I am reviewing this film telling the story of his life. I think it is important to see a champion doing the work that was needed then and still needed now. He took a stand, recorded gay film history, and kept trying to make society a better place for every queer person.

His fight for HIV/AIDS treatment & research was truly heroic and in his day made him the gay superhero we all needed. His interviews, his support & leading of protests, and overall visibility in the cause for our rights, made people listen and see what we were going through and fighting for.

Vito Russo is a name everyone should know, especially members of our queer community. I hope my little post can convince you to see this illuminating documentary.

Available to stream: HBO max, Apple TV.

Marcelino Rosas
Marcelino Rosas

Marcelino “Marc” Rosas is a novelist, essayist and film reviewer whose writing centers on the intersection of Queer and Latinx identity. Raised in Los Angeles as the eldest son in a Mexican-American family with traditional views of masculinity, his debut novel Afuera (Out) and its follow-up Fuerte (Strong) are celebrated for their passionate and candid portrayal of the challenges confronting a young man coming of age in a machismo-dominated culture as he explores and finally fully embraces his identity as a gay Latino man. A one-time fashion and figure model himself, Marc has always had a strong appreciation for the arts, in particular film. Thus his passion for sharing hidden gems of queer cinema via his film reviews with his ever-growing audience. When not at his writing desk working on his next book, Marc spends his time in the gym or traveling with the love of his life Pieter, his husband of many years.

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