Joseph P. DiSabato Jr., gay rights activist
PLAINFIELD — Joseph P. DiSabato Jr., 44, died Tuesday (Aug. 20, 1991) at St. Vincent Hospital of a heart attack.
Mr. DiSabato was born in Newark. He lived in Harrison for 29 years and in New York City for ten years before moving to Plainfield in 1986.
Mr. DiSabato was the owner of Rivendell Marketing of New York City and Plainfield for 12 years, servicing Madison avenue accounts for gay and lesbian publications throughout the country. In the early 1970s, he programmed ABC radio stations nationally. He was also a promoter and publicist for Elton John, Jefferson Starship and several other well-known stars.
He was an accomplished pianist and an outspoken advocate of gay rights, associated with more than 175 gay publications.
Mr. DiSabato graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1970 from Fordham University in the Bronx with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
He was a member of the Times Squares, a square dance club in New York City, the Greater Gotham Business Council of New York City, and New York Advertising and Communication Network of New York City.
Surviving are his longtime companion, Michael J. Gravois; his father, Judge Joseph P. DiSabato, Sr.; his stepmother, Mary Ann (nee Visotski) DiSabato; two brothers, Dennis M. DiSabato and Robert G. Pellegrino; and a sister, Reginia Pellegrino.
Services will be at 9 a.m. Saturday from the Mulligan Funeral Home in New York City, followed by a 10 a.m. Mass at Holy Cross Church in Harrison. Visitation will be 7 to 9 p.m. today and 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at the funeral home.
DISABATO — Joseph P., Jr., suddenly on August 20, 1991 of Plainfield, N.J., formerly of Harrison, N.J. Longtime companion of Michael J. Gravois. Son of Judge Joseph P. DiSabato, Sr., Esq. and the late Dorothy (nee Gunther). Stepson of Mrs. Mary Ann (nee Visotski) DiSabato. Brother of Dennis M. DiSabato, Robert G. Pellegrino, and Reginia Pellegrino. The funeral will be conducted from the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison on Saturday, August 24 at 9 A.M. Funeral mass Holy Cross Church, Harrison at 10 A.M. Interment Holy Cross Cemetery. Friends may call Thursday 7-9 P.M. and Friday 2-4 and 7-9 P.M. for those desiring, contributions may be made to: The Lesbian and Gay Community services Center, 208 West 13th St., New York City, NY 10011 in memory of Joseph P. DiSabato, Jr.
DISABATO — Joseph P. Jr. Age 44. You left us so suddenly and unexpectedly. We will cherish the times we shared together for the rest of our days. Our love and support to Michael and the entire DiSabato and Gravois families. Until we meet again…we love you.
Wendy and Donna
Joe DiSabato died suddenly on heart failure on August 20, 1991. Joe was an early member of the Times Squares (Class of ’86) and the lover of another member of the Times Squares, Michael Gavois, the former editor of the Times Squared Newsletter.
Joe was born and raised in New Jersey, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Fordham University with a degree in Political Science. After graduation, he worked as a programmer at ABC radio and, later, as promoter and publicist for Elton John, Jefferson Airplane and other artists.
In the late 1970s, Joe moved into the gay rights arena by founding the Gay Press Association (now known as the Gay and Lesbian Press Association), which is a national trade associations of some 175 gay and lesbian newspapers and magazines and their employees. In 1979, Joe founded Rivendell Marketing. Rivendell, under Joe’s management, grew to be one of the largest advertising agencies in the country, catering exclusively to the gay and lesbian market. In the 12 years since Rivendell began, it has been instrumental in attracting some of the more “mainstream” advertisers in the gay and lesbian market (Remy Martin, Absolut Vodka, Columbia Pictures, etc.)
For the past five years, Joe and Michael have lived in Plainfield, New Jersey, along with a golden cocker spaniel and 2 ferrets. Many of you know Joe as “one of the guys with the pool,” since Joe and Michael graciously opened their home every summer to every Times Square member for a huge pool party, even though they knew fewer and fewer people from the newer classes. Joe loved his home and sharing it with friends was one of the greatest joys of his life. Anyone who knew Joe knew his love and passion for life. AND, they knew his penchant for music, as year after year, as the pool party drew to its final hours, dozens of people would crowd into the “piano room” for a sing-a-long concert featuring Joe’s brilliant piano playing and spirited singing.
For many of us, that is how Joe will be remembered: full of joy, full of life and full of unending love for his family and friends. And anybody who knew him will never be quite the same.
Michael has requested that any contributions in Joe’s memory be made to the Lesbian and Gay Community Center.
Company History video of Rivendell Media featuring Joe's role as founder
- The Courier-News (Bridgewater, NJ) Thursday, 22 Aug 1991, p.C3
- The New York Times (New York, NY), Thursday, 22 Aug 1991, p.D22
- Times Squared newsletter, v.7 no.2 (Oct 1991) p.4