Born in Queens, New York, James Thomas Provenzano was raised in Ashland, Ohio and attended Kent State University from 1979-1980 as a theater major. After transferring to Ohio State University in 1981, he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1985. While a student, he received summer scholarships from the Dayton Ballet and Bill Evans Dance Company at Allegheny College.
In 1985-1986 he lived in Pittsburgh and worked and toured with the Pittsburgh Dance Alloy After moving to New York City in 1986, he performed with various modern dance choreographers, including Steve Gross and Bill Cratty, touring with Cratty's company for a year, and at The Yard on Martha's Vineyard in 1987.
Provenzano created his own dance and performance works from 1987-1992 in New York and performed at Franklin Furnace, P.S. 122, Dance Theatre Workshop and several other venues. In 1988, he directed, wrote and composed a musical, Under the River, set in the World Trade Center's PATH station.
In 1989 he began working as the publisher's assistant for OutWeek magazine and also contributed his first news and arts stories, including interviews with Bill T. Jones. He became the editor of the publication's offshoot, Hunt, an entertainment weekly, before both publications folded.
During that time, he was a member of both ACT UP and Queer Nation, participating in protests for both organizations. He also wrote freelance arts features for Frontiers, The Advocate, High Performance and the The San Francisco Sentinel, including interviews with Clive Barker, Chita Rivera, and Paul Bartel. '' Provenzano moved to San Francisco in 1992 and he worked as an assistant editor for the Bay Area Reporter from 1992-1994. He began his column "Sports Complex", covering the LGBT athletics movement, in 1996, which continued until 2006. The column was internationally syndicated from 2004-2006. Among the topics covered were the controversies of the California AIDSRide, financial controversies and accomplishments of the Gay Games and Outgames, as well as interviews with, and articles about, gay and lesbian athletes, including Esera Tuaolo, Jerry Smith, Glenn Burke, David Kopay, Billie Jean King, Greg Louganis, and several gay and lesbian Olympic athletes. Provenzano has frequently been interviewed in print, television, radio and films for his expertise on the LGBT athletics movement.
In 1997, Provenzano completed a Master of Arts degree in English/Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. He guest curated the world's first gay sports exhibit, Sporting Life: GLBT Athletics and Cultural Change from the 1960s to Today in 2005 for the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. The exhibit closed in 2006.
He is also the author of three novels, most notably PINS (1999) about gay high school wrestlers. Monkey Suits (2003) about gay cater-waiters in 1980s Manhattan, and Cyclizen about a gay bicycle messenger in 1990s New York City, both fictionalize his experiences in AIDS activism. Nearly two dozen anthologies include his short stories and essays.
Provenzano again began writing and editing fulltime for the Bay Area Reporter in September 2006 as the publication's assistant arts editor. Provenzano is openly gay. He currently lives in San Francisco.