Vince Pellegrino

An actor seen in such movies as “Dog Day Afternoon” and “9 ½ weeks,” a college professor at Hofstra University, a radio host of his own show and an author of his new book “Talk It Out, No More Gay Shame,” Vince Pellegrino is a multi-faceted, talented man.

Vince, what is the name of your new book, and what inspired you to write it?
“Talk It Out, No More Gay Shame.” It’s been a long process. I started back in ’98 interviewing people. It was just something I felt needed to be said. I saw how gay shame plays itself out in so much as many of the LGBT community have lived double lives. Those double lives are precipitated by shame. Guilt and shame. Guilt for our actions, being something we know is wrong according to our values, something we were raised to believe and shameful for who we are. Our society, our families primarily and our peers growing up cause us to fear that we’re not normal. Hopefully that’s changing now, but it rears its ugly head all over the world, even in this country. Also, my personal experiences when growing up – I was sent to a military school when I was 12, because my father basically didn’t like who I was. He didn’t like how I acted. He didn’t like that I was chubby. He didn’t like that I wasn’t athletic. So he had a partner in his business who sent his son to a military school in Miami, and my father thought that it was a good idea.  It was the worst experience of my life.

You are a professor at Hofstra?
Yes, I’ve been there since ’92. Twenty four years now coming up.
What do you teach?
I’m in the communications department. It’s speech communication and rhetoric, but my doctorate is in theatre communication, and I’ve taught theatre as well in both high school and colleges.

Are you an actor?
Yes, I’ve been an actor since ’74. “Dog Day Afternoon” was my first movie. I worked in “Saturday Night Fever,” and “9  1/2 Weeks” was my last feature role with Kim Basinger.

Who published the book?
I used Amazon CreateSpace.

You said that you started writing this in ’98. Do you think things have gotten better since then?
I think the younger generation definitely doesn’t think there is a problem. There’s not really a prejudice. Their friends think it’s cool.

They say it’s chic to be gay.
I don’t agree. They don’t really know what the older generation has gone through. I went through personal attacks being gay. I got attacked at the beach; I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me. People are very cruel, and it’s still going on, but the younger generation doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem, especially with the pills they can take, like Prep, to prevent HIV. They think they are invulnerable, but I do feel that shame still exists. I mean, we’re still getting teenage suicides. There’s online bullying, especially girls telling other girls that they’re gay or they’re sluts. I think sometimes that social media is just an outlet for viciousness.

I hate people that use Facebook as a weapon.
Exactly, and then you hear about these kids killing themselves. I always say in my show, “Please, if you’re being bullied, if you feel like you’re at your wits end, if you feel there’s no hope, go to someone, please: a teacher like myself, a friend. Don’t hold it inside.” I always say that. In fact, just the other day I was on the TV show “Talking About,” and I said, “Please don’t keep it to yourself. Find someone that will listen to you.”

I think that it’s not as bad in New York.
Well, look at India. … I mean, they kill each other over religion. In Iran they killed these two boys, 14, 15 years old. They said they were gay and killed them. Look at what’s happening in Russia. I’ve also been writing articles for “Edge” magazine, and also I write for Gay Voices on Huffington Post.

You also have a radio show. What is it called?
“Talk It Out With Dr. Vince.” I’ve been doing it for five years at Hofstra. It’s on Sunday night at 12.

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