At 18, Robert leaves his religious home in Floral Park, Queens and moves into the city to attend Pratt, but drops out when he meets PATTI SMITH. As best friends and lovers, they move into the Chelsea Hotel, a hotbed of late 60’s pop culture. Here, Robert discovers the camera and plunges into New York’s underground gay scene, pursuing his newfound love of photography alongside his burgeoning homosexuality. Robert’s photographs prove too controversial for everyone except SAM WAGSTAFF, a sophisticated collector who has an eye for both Robert and his work. In Sam, Robert finds a patron and the love of his life. His career soon explodes, and his photos become career-defining for his subjects. But Robert’s promiscuity lands him alone in his fame, as AIDS ravages his world, taking Sam and so many others. In 1989, at only 42, Robert too is taken, but taking pictures until his last breath. As he dies, the storm of controversy around his work changes funding for the arts in America forever.