The Celluloid Closet is based on the work of our late friend Vito Russo. Vito loved the movies. He was also a pioneering gay activist. He synthesized these two concerns in his study of homosexuality in the movies. Vito showed us that by looking at how the most popular art-form of our century has portrayed homosexual characters on the screen, we can learn a lot about what society thinks about gay people -- as well as what constitutes acceptable ≥masculine≤ and ≥feminine≤ behavior. As filmmakers, as gay men, and as movie-lovers ourselves, we were excited by the prospect of distilling a century of images about homosexuality and presenting them in a context that would allow audiences to look at them in a new way. In the process, we were continually amazed by the images we found, and fascinated by the stories that emerged in the interviews about how these images came to be. The centennial of the motion picture, a time when more and more lesbian and gay characters seem to be proliferating on the screen, seems an ideal time to stand back and take stock of how we got here.
Jeffrey Friedman & Rob Epstein