Vito Mastrogiovanni was a friend of mine when I was at Binghamton Central High School in the late 1960s. He wasn’t the first gay person I met, but he was the first person I knew who was “out of the closet,” as they used to say. My sister Leslie was disappointed because she thought – and she was right – that Vito was very cute.
Our school affiliation, Contemporary Issues Forum, advocated against the Vietnam War and fought racism, among other issues. Socially, we referred to ourselves as Holiday Unlimited, swiping the Beatles’ line, “A splendid time is guaranteed for all.”
Vito, George, Jane, Michelle, and Harry, and others in our coterie were a semester ahead of Karen and me. They graduated in June of 1970, and we in January 1971. Karen and I had attended our 10th reunion in 1981, and pretty much hated it. The night was salvaged by a party afterward hosted by a local friend.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
In 1990, Karen and I went to the 1970 class reunion, and I had a surprisingly good time. But Vito did not attend, though he did come up from New York City, where he was working in the theater. BTW, he has a credit in the IBDB: The Nerd (Mar 22, 1987 – Apr 10, 1988), Hair Design by Vito Mastrogiovanni.
Vito was understandably angry that he was suffering from AIDS during a period when it was almost certainly a death sentence. As his sister recently noted, he was amazingly thin in these photos. I never saw him again, but I understand that he became more, if not accepting, then at peace with his mortality. He died on 15 May 1991, so just over 30 years ago, before he reached his 40th birthday.
As I noted WAY back in 2005, Vito was commemorated on the famous AIDS quilt. At my request, sections that included his piece came to Albany at least twice. The section is in no way as dynamic as Vito was.