Monday Movie: Vito, by David Bax
It’s probably difficult, when making a documentary about a single, revered individual, not to reduce your efforts to mere hagiography. However, when that subject is as vital a figure as Vito Russo, the focus of Jeffrey Schwartz’s Vito and a man who spent two decades at the forefront of every important LGBTQ cause, perhaps hagiography isn’t so bad.
Russo was a gay man who found himself politicized by the events at Stonewall. He joined the Gay Activists Alliance and, later, was a part of the group Act Up, the most powerful and effective voice for years fighting for those with HIV and AIDS. Russo would die of AIDS-related complications in 1990.
But perhaps his most enduring legacy is as a co-founder of GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Russo realized early on something that that has more recently been on the minds of many races, orientations and genders. Namely, that honest, respectful and non-obligatory representation in media and art is essential to any under-served population.
Vito Russo is one of the most important and largely unsung figures in recent American history. You can help remedy that by checking out Schwartz’s film.