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The Daily Agenda for Monday, July 23

Jim Burroway

July 23rd, 2012

Vito Documentary Television Premiere: HBO. The press release lays out the background:

On June 27, 1969, a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar, took a surprising turn when patrons decided it was time to fight back. As a riot erupted in Greenwich Village, a new era in the gay rights movement was born. Among the crowd that day was 23-year-old film student Vito Russo. In the aftermath of the infamous rebellion, a raid on an after-hours bar he frequented ended with a young gay man impaling himself on a fence while trying to escape the police. This is when Vito found his voice as a gay activist and critic of homosexual representation in the media. Over the next 20 years, until his death from AIDS in 1990, Vito Russo was one of the most outspoken and inspiring activists in the LGBT community’s fight for equal rights.

Russo would go on to become active in ACT-UP, found GLAAD, and write The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies, which itself would become the inspiration for a 1995 Peabody-winning HBO documentary by the same name. Vito, directed by Jeffrey Schwartz, includes period footage and film clips, and archival interviews with Russo as well as new insights from those who new him, including Larry Kramer, Gabriel Rotello, Lily Tomlin (she recalled her decision to come out via a 1975 interview that Russo wrote for The Advocate), Bruce Vilanche, Armisted Maupin, family members, and many more. Vito will air tonight on HBO at 9:00 p.m. EDT and PDT, and will be repeated July 26 (4:00 p.m., 12:50 a.m.), 29 (8:30 a.m., 5:10 a.m.) and 31 (12:45 p.m.), and Aug. 4 (3:00 p.m.) and 8 (9:15 a.m.). It will also air on HBO2 July 25 (8:00 p.m.) and Aug. 12 (11:45 a.m.) and 17 (2:30 p.m.).

Charlotte Saunders Cushman: 1816. The American stage actress began her career as an opera singer at the age of thirteen, following the death of her father. She had learned to sing from a friend of her father, who was also a foreman at a Boston piano factory, and she is said to have possessed a remarkable contralto range. But when her singing voice suddenly failed due to strain, she switched gears and became a noted drama actress, with a particular flair for Shakespeare. She and her sister, Susan Webb Cushman, became famous for playing Romeo and Juliet together, with Charlotte playing the role of Romeo to Susan’s Juliet.

In 1848 while in Europe, Charlotte met journalist and sometime actress Matilda Hays, and they began a ten year affair, during which they became known for dressing alike. Charlotte retired from the stage in 1852, and the couple moved to Rome, where they immersed themselves an expatriate community consisting mainly of lesbian artists. Hays and Cushman split in 1857, and Cushman became involved with the sculptor Emma Stebens. She returned to the U.S. for a tour, and before returning to Italy in 1861 she was offered a farewell performance of the title role of Hamlet in Washington, D.C., the first of at least seven different so-called farewell performances over the next seven years. Her final final performance on the stage wouldn’t be until May of 1875 at Boston’s Globe Theater, nine months before she died at the age of 59 of pneumonia.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?



Timothy (TRiG)
July 23rd, 2012 | LINK

I love the little history lessons in these posts.


July 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Jim, there’s clearly a typo in the second paragraph of the Cushman article. Surely the 1952 should be 1852.

Jim Burroway
July 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Surely, you’re right.

July 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Stop calling me Shirley!

July 23rd, 2012 | LINK

“…the first of at least seven different so-called farewell performances over the next seven years.”

In other words, she was the Cher of the nineteenth century.

TJ Davis
July 23rd, 2012 | LINK

Hi Jim,

I read your column most everyday.
Thanks for all the wonderful things you do for us.
I am half of an international gay marriage.
My husband is paranoid about anyone from his home country knowing he is gay.
I was just talking to another young, gay man whom we know from Skopje, Macedonia, my husband’s country.
This link will show you what gay pride is all about in repressed countries. This is what those whom you write about would have it be here and everywhere if they had their way with things.
This next link is to the newspapers where that picture appeared.
This photo was taken by a new organization in Macedonia that calls itself LGBT United. They said, “We are here. We exist.”
That photo was taken in the city square, the center of Skopje, Macedonia’s capital city, below the statue of Alexander the Great. I have stood right where that picture was taken.
I don’t read Macedonian Cyrillic but I can tell you that the comments for this article are very homophobic. One of them suggests that the 6 participants in the photo should be reduced to soap, but the writer of that comment goes on to suggest that the soap would only then be used to wash his feet.
The signs in the photo read: Transgender person, gay, transgender person, lesbian, gay, lesbian.

Since you post all pride announcements I thought you would like to know what it looks like in a repressed country.

We are in the US now. For the moment we are safe. We are waiting out DOMA.

Have a great day.
Ask us anything.

July 23rd, 2012 | LINK

I had no idea before today that she was a Lesbian, but sadly, Sally Ride passed away today from pancreatic cancer–she was only 61. R.I.P. Sally

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