Features 41 GLBT History month
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Features 41 GLBT History month

Gus Van Sant – Born July 24, 1952 – Film Director

Milk” is about political, grassroots organizing and making it work. That’s what I want people to take away from it. It doesn’t matter if they’re gay or straight.”

 

Gus Van Sant is an Academy Award nominated director and screenwriter whose films include “Good Will Hunting” and “Milk.” Van Sant was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of a traveling salesman. At an early age, he began producing semi-autobiographical Super-8 movies.

Features 41 GLBT History month

Gus Van Sant – Born July 24, 1952 – Film Director


Milk” is about political, grassroots organizing and making it work. That’s what I want people to take away from it. It doesn’t matter if they’re gay or straight.”

 

Gus Van Sant is an Academy Award nominated director and screenwriter whose films include “Good Will Hunting” and “Milk.” Van Sant was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of a traveling salesman. At an early age, he began producing semi-autobiographical Super-8 movies.

 

In 1975, Van Sant graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. After college, he moved to Los Angeles, where he developed a fascination with the city’s marginalized subcultures.

 

With $20,000 in savings, he bankrolled most of his first film, “Mala Noche” (1985). Shot in black and white, the ill-fated love story between two men earned Van Sant critical acclaim. The Los Angeles Times named “Mala Noche” the year’s best independent film.

 

Van Sant wrote and directed “Drugstore Cowboy” (1989), which received rave reviews and won an Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay. “My Own Private Idaho,” starring Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix as male hustlers, earned Van Sant another Independent Spirit Award.

 

The success of Van Sant’s first major studio directing project, “To Die For” (1995), starring Nicole Kidman, established him as an A-List Hollywood director. His 1997 blockbuster, “Good Will Hunting,” starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including best director.

 

In 2003, Van Sant directed the controversial HBO film “Elephant,” based on the Columbine High School massacre. “Elephant” won the top prize (Palme d’Or) and the Award for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival.

 

In 2008, Van Sant directed “Milk,” the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to become an elected official. The film, starring Sean Penn, was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including best director.

 

The Advocate named Gus Van Sant one of its 2008 People of the Year.

 

B.D. Wong – Born: October 24, 1960 – Actor


I ’m perfectly happy going on TV now and saying I’m a gay man. I’m happy and proud to say that.”

 

B.D. Wong is an award-winning actor best known for his television roles on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Oz,” and his Broadway debut in “M. Butterfly.”

 

Born Bradley Darryl Wong, he grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. He graduated from San Francisco Sate University and moved to New York.

 

In 1988, Wong made his Broadway debut in “M. Butterfly,” for which he received the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Clarence Derwent Award and Theatre World Award. He is the only actor to be honored with all five awards for the same performance.

 

In 1993, Wong received rave reviews for his role opposite Sir Ian Mckellan in the HBO production “And the Band Played On.” From 1994 to 1995, Wong costarred with Margaret Cho in “All American Girl,” the first American situation comedy on network television to deal with the Asian-American experience.

 

From 1997 to 2002, Wong had a recurring role as Father Ray Mukado on “Oz,” the gritty HBO prison drama. In 2002, Wong joined the cast of NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as psychiatrist Dr. George Huang.

 

On the silver screen, Wong has appeared in “The Father of the Bride” (1991), “Jurassic Park” (1993), and “Executive Decision” (1996). He was the voice of Captain Li Shang in the animated film “Mulan” (1998) and its sequel.

 

In 1999, Wong and his then-partner, talent agent Richie Jackson, gave birth to twin sons via a surrogate mother. One of the boys died soon after delivery. Jackson Foo Wong, the surviving twin, inspired Wong to write his memoir, “Following Foo.” The book served as Wong’s official coming out.

 

Wong has been a visible AIDS and GLBT civil rights activist, hosting fund-raisers and appearing at community events. In 2003, he received GLAAD’s Davidson/Valentini Award for making a difference in promoting equal rights.

 

At the 2008 Asian Excellence Awards, Wong was recognized as Outstanding Television Actor for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

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