Robert De Niro is a legendary actor whose contributions to the film industry have earned him much respect in Hollywood. While his on-screen performances have captured audiences for decades, he also realized his father had been suffering in silence over his homosexuality. De Niro’s father was not exactly open about his sexual orientation. A secret that he wished could have been spoken about more freely. The actor has been candid about his father’s life since his death. In 2014, he spearheaded a documentary entitled Remembering the Artist about his life with the intention of creating a more inclusive society.
Robert De Nero knew little about his father
Robert De Niro grew up in a very different world to the one we know today. The LGBTQ community has gone through the worst of all the judgment, and though there is still prejudice to this day, the worst is over. De Niro had a close affiliation with the struggles they endured, largely because his own father was gay. Although, De Niro Sr was not exactly comfortable with being open about it.
For most of his life, Robert De Niro Sr kept this part of himself a secret. Even his own son, the famous actor we know so well on screen, Robert De Niro, was kept in the dark. He expressed once in an interview that he wished his dad was able to talk more freely about his sexual orientation. “I was not aware, much, of it,” De Niro said. “But, I wish we had spoken about it much more. My mother didn’t want to talk about things in general, and you’re not interested when you’re a certain age. Again, for my kids, I want them to stop and take a moment and realize that you sometimes have to do things now instead of later because later maybe 20 years from now — and that’s too late.”
Excerpts from De Nero Sr’s journal
Robert De Niro Sr passed away in 1993. He had kept journals throughout his life, and the four of them were filled with self-expressions that he was too afraid to speak of in public. So, when they were released, De Niro Jr was hesitant to read them. In other words, he knew there would be a pain in his father’s words. The pain he had not been aware of. However, he did read one of the excerpts that were published. To which he said, “It was sad for me to read. He had his demons … I was sorry.”
The excerpts read: “until I am cured of my mental and emotional sickness. If God doesn’t want me to be homosexual (about which I have so much guilt), he will find a woman whom I will love and who will love me. But I really don’t want my homosexuality to be cured.
“I am full of fear… of the discomfort caused by my own thoughts, feelings, sensations. There is so much I have left out of this journal… My laments, wailings, self-pity, and complaining are much greater than I have [indicated] here.
A documentary on his father’s life
A documentary exploring the life of Robert De Niro’s father, Robert De Niro Sr, is currently in production. It will shed some light on his experiences as a gay artist in the mid-twentieth century. The film will be produced by Robert De Niro Jr. and his wife Grace Hightower. Their aim is to honor De Niro Sr’s legacy and his contributions to the art world.
Furthermore, they wish to raise awareness about the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals during that era. Through archival footage, personal letters, and interviews with those who knew him, the documentary promises to be a poignant and insightful exploration of De Niro Sr.’s life and his impact on his son’s advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.
“If you’re going to do something, you have to do it all the way,” De Nero Jr said about the documentary. “You can’t hide anything. That’s the whole point — the truth. That’s what people are attracted to. I should have done this 10 years earlier, but I’m glad I did it now.”
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- “Robert De Niro on his father’s journals: ‘It was sad for me to read. He had his demons’.” The Guardian. Dalya Alberge. September 29, 2019.
- “Robert de Niro opens up about his gay father in tearful interview: ‘I wish we had spoken about it much more’ National Post. May 28, 2014
- “Robert De Niro Talks Openly About Having a Gay Father, “I Wish We Had Spoken About It Much More” Brightside.