|Oral History Archives at Columbia|
At a Glance
Collection is arranged chronologically.
Scope and Contents
The Thomas Iorio Stonewall Vets video recordings document LGBTQ culture and heritage in New York City in the mid-1990s. Some footage in the collection was ultimately used in Iorio's short film Stonewall: The March Forward. This film is also found in the collection. Iorio took these videos to connect with LGBTQ history after he came out in the 1990s. The footage has a mixture of oral history interviews and recorded events and activities. Iorio is also sometimes the subject of the films. Camera-work is also frequently undertaken by Randy Wicker and occasionally by Stephen Van Cline.
A major theme in the collection is the activities of the Stonewall Rebellion Veterans Association (SVA). The SVA was founded to preserve the history of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, communicate about GLBT issues, and provide assistance to GLBT individuals in need. Iorio's interviews with Stonewall vets document the events of the 1969 uprising and how the community's history was understood and celebrated in the 1990s. There is also footage of the organization's meetings and participation in events. Figures featured include Sylvia Rivera, Williamson Lee Henderson (Willson Henderson), Stephen Van Cline, and Queen Allyson Ann Allante.
Another major theme of the collection is the lives of unhoused LGBTQ individuals on the piers west of Greenwich Village in New York City. Across several videos, Iorio and Wicker record Sylvia Rivera describing life in this community. The videos capture a moment when the city was forcibly removing this community in favor of the gentrifying forces that would follow.
Drag performance also receives considerable attention. The collection contains several recordings of performances and documents performers as they prepare to perform. Performers also speak on practical aspects of performance and their philosophies about the art form. Iorio's videos also offer a more general window into LGBTQ life in Manhattan in the 1990s. Videos document longstanding events such as the NYC Pride March and Greenwich Village's Halloween parade, interiors of clubs and bars, and informal activities with friends. The collection also includes dubs of commercial films and documentaries found among Iorio's other tapes.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Conditions Governing Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright by Thomas Iorio or other creators. The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York hold a non-exclusive license to enable library activities.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Thomas Iorio, Gift, 2019
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Collection processed by David A. Olson and Alexander J. Whelan. Collection was processed concurrent with digitization as part of Columbia University Libraries' Mellon Foundation-funded Audio and Moving Image Project, 2020-2021.
Links to digitized items added. kws 2021-08-12
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Thomas Iorio was a documenter of LGBTQ history in New York City. After coming out in the 1990s, he used oral history interviewing and filmmaking as a mode of self-discovery and means of learning about the community's history. He connected with members of the Stonewall Rebellion Veterans Association (SVA), and collected stories of many individuals who were at the 1969 Stonewall uprising. Iorio used footage to create a short film titled Stonewall: The March Forward. In 1996, the film was submitted for broadcast to the "Short Film and Video Festival on the Air" of the television show In the Life. It was not ultimately aired. Iorio was a 1991 graduate of Columbia College. By the 2010s he was living in Waterbury, Connecticut and London in the United Kingdom.