River Gallo

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River Gallo
Born1990/1991 (age 30–31)[1]
EducationNew York University Tisch School of the Arts (BA)
USC School of Cinematic Arts (MFA)
OccupationFilmmaker, actor, model, intersex rights activist
EmployerGaptoof Entertainment
Notable work

River Gallo is a Salvadoran-American filmmaker, actor, model, and intersex rights activist.[2] They wrote, directed, and acted in the 2019 short film Ponyboi, which is the first film to feature an openly intersex actor playing an intersex person.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Gallo was born in and grew up in New Jersey.[3] When they turned twelve they learned they had been born without testicles, although the doctor did not tell them they were intersex. The doctor told them they would need to start hormone therapy and have surgery to insert prosthetic testicles when they turned sixteen so they would "look and feel like a normal man".[4][5][1] They have since become outspoken about ending unnecessary cosmetic surgeries performed on children with atypical genitals who are not old enough to give informed consent.[1]

Gallo learned about the term "intersex", and that it applied to them, while writing their master's thesis. Gallo is non-binary and queer.[3] They live in Los Angeles, California.[6]


Gallo left New Jersey to study acting at New York University, where they trained in the Experimental Theatre Wing at the Tisch School of the Arts. After graduating with a bachelor's degree, they attended the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts and earned their master's degree.[7]

Gallo created the short film Ponyboi as their master's thesis while at USC. The film is about an intersex Latine runaway in New Jersey who works in the day at a laundromat and at night as a sex worker. On Valentine's Day, Ponyboi meets and falls in love with a man and begins to overcome his traumatic past.[8][7][9] While writing the film, Gallo discovered the term "intersex" and came to realize it described them.[5] Gallo co-directed the film along with their USC classmate Sadé Clacken Joseph.[7] The film is produced by executive producer Stephen Fry and co-producers Emma Thompson and Seven Graham.[9] The film has been screened at festivals including the BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival.[10]

Gallo is the founder and CEO of the Gaptoof Entertainment production company.[5][10]

In 2019, Gallo won the GLAAD Rising Star Grant, which they have said they intend to use to mentor LGBTQIA+ students in Los Angeles public schools.[5] They were also named in Out's "Most Exciting Queers to Follow on Instagram in 2019" list and Paper's "100 People Taking Over 2019" list.[11][12]

In 2020, Gallo performed in an episode of the Hulu original teen drama series Love, Victor, which is a spinoff of the 2018 film Love, Simon. Gallo appears in episode 8, "Boys' Trip", as the character Kim, who is one of Simon's several LGBT roommates.[13]


Gallo is an intersex rights activist, and has spoken out about issues including unnecessary surgery on intersex children.[5] They have supported California Senate Bill 201, which would ban doctors from performing cosmetic surgeries on children with atypical genitals until they are old enough to give informed consent.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Gutierrez, Melody (March 25, 2019). "California lawmakers will consider banning cosmetic genital surgery on intersex children". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "About". River Gallo. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Meet River Gallo, The GLAAD Award-Winning Trailblazer Fusing Activism And Art". MTV News. March 28, 2019. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  4. ^ Gallo, River (July 19, 2018). "I Didn't Know I Was Intersex — Until I Made a Film About an Intersex Character". them. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Sultana, Rashad (May 16, 2019). "River Gallo brings intersex issues to mainstream consciousness with film "Ponyboi"". Queerty. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  6. ^ "Bio". River Gallo. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Philadelphia, Desa (July 25, 2019). "River Gallo '18 Reps New Jersey, the Intersex Community, (and SCA), with Buzzworthy Short Ponyboi". USC Cinematic Arts. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  8. ^ Tate, Allison (February 14, 2019). "'Ponyboi' Is the First Narrative Intersex Film". The Advocate. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Wong, Curtis M. (June 22, 2018). "'Ponyboi' Explores An Intersex Youth's Journey Toward Self-Acceptance". HuffPost. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Nicolette, Sahar (March 13, 2019). "River Gallo: The Intersex Runaway Who's Educating Our Minds & Stealing Our Hearts". Subvrt. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  11. ^ "100 People Taking Over 2019". Paper. January 29, 2019. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  12. ^ Tirado, Fran (December 31, 2018). "The Most Exciting Queers to Follow on Instagram in 2019". Out. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  13. ^ Kleinmann, James (June 16, 2020). "TV Review: Love, Victor ★★★★". The Queer Review. Retrieved June 19, 2020.