In this multi-media presentation, Michael Schiavi discusses the life and times of Vito Russo (1946-1990), author of The Celluloid Closet (1981), the first study of Hollywood's treatment of lesbians and gay men. Celluloid Closet was subsequently adapted into a documentary film in 1995 by Oscar-winning directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, with narration by Vito's dear friend Lily Tomlin. Russo was also a giant of post-Stonewall gay and AIDS activism. He was an early and important member of Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), as well as a cofounder of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and a cofounder of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). In addition to Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo, Michael's recent biography, Vito's legacy is also detailed in Vito (HBO Documentary Films), Jeffrey Schwarz's new documentary, in which Michael appears as Vito's biographer. Michael's talk incorporates readings from his book, lecture, and archival footage for a dynamic portrait of an indisputed hero of LGBT activism.
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Michael Schiavi is Professor of English and Coordinator of English as a Second Language at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)'s Manhattan Campus. He is the author of Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011), and he appears in the documentary Vito (HBO Documentary Pictures, 2012) as Russo's biographer. He teaches LGBTQ-themed courses both at NYIT and in Pace University's new Queer Studies minor. His articles have appeared in Cinema Journal, Theatre Journal, Modern Drama, and College Literature, among other publications, including the forthcoming Our Naked Lives: Essays from Gay Italian-American Men (Bordighera Press, 2013)