Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ron Nyswaner

American screenwriter, producer and film director Ron Nyswaner (b. 1956 in Pennsylvania) has often worked on film projects having to do with homosexuality, homophobia and AIDS. Openly gay himself, Nyswaner has long been an activist for gay rights. His first produced screenplay dates to 1982, but he scored a mega-hit ten years later with his screenplay for Philadelphia (1993).

Philadelphia was Hollywood’s first big-budget film on the subject of AIDS, and mainstream big-name cast members included Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Nyswaner was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, and Hanks won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for this film. Bruce Springsteen also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song (Streets of Philadelphia). Antonio Banderas was cast in the role of Miguel, the live-in lover of lawyer Andrew (Tom Hanks). Says Nyswaner, “The part of Miguel was written as a Hispanic for one reason – that’s my sexual fantasy.”

Well, there you have it.

Nyswaner also wrote the script for the television movie A Soldier's Girl (2003 Peabody Award winner), based on the true story of U. S. Army Pfc. Barry Winchell, who was beaten to death in 1999 after his fellow soldiers learned of his involvement with a transgendered nightclub performer.

Three years later Nyswaner wrote the screenplay for the much-lauded period film The Painted Veil (2006), based on the 1925 novel by Somerset Maugham. The film, which tells the story of a dysfunctional marriage,  starred Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber. Ron’s screenplay was the third film adaptation of Maugham’s book.

At present Nyswaner is working on a screenplay for Freeheld, a movie that will tell the true story of Stacie Andree, an auto mechanic living with her female partner of five years, Laurel. A crisis ensues when the medical benefits provided to her as a police office are blocked by a state law against same-sex couples. With the help of Laurel’s fellow officer, she begins a crusade for protection that soon garners national attention. Ellen Page will star in the leading role as Stacie, and Peter Sollett will direct. The short documentary film on which Freeheld is based won the Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 2009.       

Blue Days, Black Nights is the title of Nyswaner’s memoir, published in 2004 (called "hilarious and uncompromising" by The New York Times). He has written extensively for television and stage and has also directed two films, The Prince of Pennsylvania (1988) and Why Stop Now (2012). Nyswaner also wrote the screenplays for both films.


  1. I'd like to see if I can wright a memoir. Or if it would even be interesting. A gay man who used Ice Skating to get way from Family. Later almost died from HEP-B, then having HIV and in late life just living after surviving cancer.

  2. when is the assignment on little boys due paul?