- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Biography of a gay-rights champion and author of the queer-cinema ur-textThe Celluloid Closet (1981).
In this first book, Schiavi (English/New York Institute of Technology) looks at the life of Vito Russo (1946–1990), best known for co-founding the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Foundation (GLAAD) and for the aforementioned groundbreaking book. Russo's name isn't as well known as his major contributions to gay rights in the 1970s and '80s, but Schiavi illuminates his short but productive life through access to Russo's copious journals and numerous accomplishments—all without much reliance on the perspectives of anyone other than seemingly Russo himself.Although structured and written like a boilerplate academic study, the book is a total immersion into Russo's daily life: his struggles growing up in dangerous 1960s East Harlem and then in culturally barren suburban New Jersey, and his developing interest in classic Hollywood film, which also helped shape his identity as a gay male in a largely homophobic American mainstream society.The narrative focuses particularly on Russo's unglamorous persistence as a writer and lecturer, toiling for low pay for publications such as London'sGay News and New York City publications like theAdvocate and Christopher Street, but not finding much mainstream acceptance until tragically late in his career. Even the publication ofThe Celluloid Closetgot him more publicity and recognition than publishing royalties. Schiavi's chapters the years leading up to Russo's death at age 44 from AIDS-related complications are also affecting but not always easy to digest. The author provides a sad reminder of the full fury of the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, which struck so suddenly and took so many promising lives with it.
Conventionally academic but complex portrait of an undeservedly obscure gay author and activist.