Viewers praise emotional Vincent Hanley documentary

A brand new documentary Vincent Hanley: Sex, Lies & Videotapes shows the devistation of AIDS in 1980s Ireland.

Following the broadcasting of a new Vincent Hanley documentary, people are praising it. Close up facial portrait of Vincent Hanley.
Image: @dulchiewhelan

Last night RTÉ broadcast the stunningly poignant documentary Vincent Hanley: Sex, Lies & Videotapes, to huge acclaim.

Produced and authored by Bill Hughes, a close friend of Vincent’s, the documentary takes a highly personal and fond look at the DJ’s career and his reluctance to reveal his sexuality or the truth behind his devastating illness.

As Bill explains in the documentary, “Vincent knew that if the term homosexual was attached to him, that the way that the public mindset was at the time, he would be rejected. Being gay was negative, negative, negative, that’s how the media portrayed gay.”

In a no-holds-barred approach, the programme explores the early days of his career and what prompted him to move from a prestigious job in London to the uncertainty of New York.

In conversation with journalist Una Mullally, Bill questions how the landscape of homophobia in Ireland of the 1980s impacted his decision to keep his sexuality secret. They also consider the effects of the savage murder of Vincent’s friend and housemate, Charles Self in 1982. How the investigation added to fears within Dublin’s gay community and how Vincent was never able to come to terms with his friend’s death.

Bill also speaks to Colm Leon and John Maguire, Vincent’s former boyfriends. Along with close friend Terry O’Sullivan, they paint an intimate portrait of the DJ as he rose to stardom through his tv show MT USA.

In the concluding chapter, Bill and Terry discuss the final days of his life and media speculation over his illness. Bill recalls, “There was a reporter who would sit down on the steps of the wing of James’s where Vincent was being treated on the top floor. And this reporter would just sit there and go back and write his columns, daily columns on who was in to see Vincent Hanley and what the latest news was. It was all so scurrilous and tawdry and so cheap and nasty and we had to do all in our power to ensure that Vincent wasn’t aware of what was being written about him.”

Following last night’s screening of the documentary, fans took to social media to share memories of watching Vincent on the Sunday afternoon music show and to express their sadness over the stigma and homophobia that surrounded the community at that time.

Vincent Hanley: Sex, Lies and Video Tapes is available to watch for viewers in Ireland on RTÉ player here.

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