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07/19/2012

'Vito': The man, the mirth, the movement

by Jeremy Hooper

I didn't know that much about Vito Russo. For me it was always television rather than film, so even though I both read and saw the subsequent Celluloid Closet documentary (the latter secretly, while my parents were out to dinner), I didn't gravitate to it in a way that necessarily heightened my perception of its creator.

I do, however, know plenty about the 20th century's LGBT rights arc. I was somewhat obsessed with post-WW2 Baby Boomer culture all through my youth, leading to routine proclamations about me "being born in the wrong era." This continued when I came into the LGBT activism realm, at which point I devoured anything I could consume that pertained to the Stonewall generation.

It's through this latter lens that I both viewed and appreciated the new documentary "Vito." For me it is not so much the story of one man as it is the story of one triumphant fight projected onto/channeled through this one key figure. We all know that the political most always benefits from personal stories, something that is especially true in a fight as human as ours. We know that our stories our are most powerful tools. In "Vito," we see this truism explored in overdrive—the tale of a burgeoning LGBT rights movement, told through a man who experienced led so many of its 20th century touchstones.

Vito's bona fides speak for themselves; his choice to speak out guided (and continues to guide in many real ways) our ongoing push forward.

"Vito." Monday night. HBO. Watch it:

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