Arthur J. Bressan Jr. — May 27, 1943-July 28, 1987 (Image via Facebook)
The following is an appreciation of pioneering gay filmmaker Arthur J. Bressan Jr. (May 27, 1943-July 29, 1987) written by LGBT historian Michael Bronski:
Editor’s Note: One of the pioneers of independent gay cinema in the 1970s and ‘80s, Arthur J. Bressan Jr. is best known for his devastating 1985 drama, Buddies (the first feature film about AIDS) and his groundbreaking 1977 film Gay USA (the first documentary by and about LGBT people). Working across multiple genres including documentary, narrative, adult and short-form filmmaking, Bressan’s boldness and artistry as a writer-director earned him both acclaim and controversy over the course of his decade-long filmmaking career. Bressan died of AIDS in 1987. The majority of his films have long been unavailable. The Bressan Project is currently undertaking efforts to preserve and make them available once again and has now re-released Buddies, Gay USA and his 1974 debut feature, Passing Strangers. Bressan’s 1979 feature Forbidden Letters will also be available via the PinkLabel.tv platform starting August 22.
Artie Bressan and I were friends. The sort of friends that did not see one another a lot — we lived in different cities — but who kept in touch frequently. When he came to Boston, usually to promote a new film, he always stayed with my lover Walta Borawski and me in our Harvard Square rent-controlled apartment. We hung out the few times I visited San Francisco in the late 1970s and he took delight in introducing me to his favorite places, from Hamburger Mary’s to used record shops. (I had already discovered the plethora of backroom bookshops on Castro Street.)