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Robert De Niro opens up about father’s struggles with being gay

Godfather acting legend has made a new documentary about his artist father and his legacy
Robert De Niro has opened up about his father's struggles with being gay.

Robert De Niro has said he wished he had learned more about his father’s sexuality when he was alive.

The Oscar winner has opened up about his late father, Robert De Niro Sr - a New York City artist, in a new documentary.

He said he wanted to shed light on his father’s legacy and reflect on how much times have changed for gay people.

‘It was my responsibility to make a documentary about him,’ the 70-year-old actor told Out magazine.

‘I was always planning on doing it, but never did. Then Jane Rosenthal, my partner at Tribeca [Enterprises], said, “We should start doing that now.” It was not intended to be on HBO. It was just something I wanted to do.’

In the documentary, Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr, it was revealed his father was always conflicted about his homosexuality.

‘Yeah, he probably was, being from that generation, especially from a small town upstate,’ De Niro said.

‘I was not aware, much, of it. 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 may be 20 years from now—and that's too late.’

Even though his dad died more than 20 years ago, De Niro continues to preserve his father’s final home and art studio in SoHo.

‘It was the only way to keep his being, his existence alive,’ De Niro said. ‘To me, he was always a great artist.’

Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr airs on HBO on 9 June.

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When I was 21yo, my Dad caught me in the act with a friend. I was given a choice of going into therapy, or moving out of the house. I opted for the latter. Seven (7) years later, I learned my Dad had had a FWB/FB relationship with another guy throughout his Jr. and Sr. High School days. How sad it is that our culture/society had shamed my father so badly over his early sexperiences that he was unable to take me aside at age 12 or sooner and explain to me the real facts of life. It would have brought us closer as men, and better prepared me to understand my own orientation.

As we know from Kinsey's research, upwards of 90% of the human male population is more or less bi-sexual, and that it is only societal norms which drive 80% or so into exclusive heterosexuality.

From my readings, it is my understanding that Italian males have no problem with having sexual interactions with each other, while remaining strongly homophobic towards homosexual (gay) men. It becomes much more of an issue of self-identification and expression than actual orientation - similar to what we see in Islamic and Indian cultures. It all comes back to the question of what it is to be masculine as defined by your society.