Be proud

On June 11th I am going to the “Roma Pride”. Why? Because the Pride is not a carnival. It’s rather a necessary, uplifting and revolutionary event. It’s offered to anyone believing in a fair society and wanting a radical change for the country

cropped-roma-pride1.jpg

It was July 1994 when Rome had its first Pride. Every year since then, the “Roma Pride” has always been the expression of a peaceful revolution connecting everyone who believes in a fair society. In fact, at the Pride there are not only people from the LGBT community: there are tourists who stop, applaud and join the parade; there are heterosexual Italians, who believe that the struggle for equality concerns anyone; there are gays, lesbians and transsexuals’ friends, who come to support the cause; and there are families of any kind, who embody the concept of pure love beyond sexual orientation or gender identity. That being said, the “Roma Pride” Coordination set the date of the Pride 2016: Saturday, June 11th. And I wait that day with trepidation.

(See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pride_parade and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_by_country_or_territory)

The majority of Italian politicians opt for invisibility and decide not to go the Pride. They simply limit themselves to label it as an ‘out of season carnival’. Moreover, they add that the rally is just the ‘spectacularization of sex’. In other words, the Pride is still seen, by a lot of people, as an event marked by vulgarity, provocation and exhibitionism. Is the demonstration a carnival offending people’s decency in the middle of the summer? No, it’s not. The media keep giving a monolithic and even untruthful depiction of the event, when the Pride has noble purposes, instead. The “Roma Pride” is the moment of maximum expression of the Italian LGBT community struggle for the recognition of dignity, equality and freedom. The demonstration is the most visible and intense moment of collective affirmation. It’s a concrete act of liberation from oppressing and homogenizing models caging people’s freedom of expression. So, is the Pride a vulgar carnival? No, it’s not. It’s the celebration of diversity freed from any religious, moralistic and ideological interferences. The offensive comments addressed to the “Roma Pride” demonstrate how necessary the Pride is, actually. The Pride is, first of all, an event sensitizing people against homophobia, prejudices, ignorance and hatred. The annual Pride in Italy is necessary, mostly in the capital, because it’s for the development and growth of society. The demonstration throws down the gauntlet to Italian politicians, who are unable to keep their commitments and to keep up with social changes. Therefore, the “Roma Pride” is simultaneously the antidote to the return of fundamentalism and absolutism, and the engine of possible changes for the country.

With the “Roma Pride”, Italian LGBT associations want to offer a cultural and political response to a society that still doesn’t respect the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights. The core values of a democratic society are equality, freedom and secularity. A democratic society promotes differences; it doesn’t stigmatize them. Nevertheless, Italian institutions are still motionless and deaf to LGBT community’s demands. They still prove themselves to be unable to provide concrete answers to people’s needs. It’s not a chance that Italy is relegated to the last spots in terms of civil rights, compared to the other European countries.

(See: http://www.ilga-europe.org/sites/default/files/Attachments/annual_review_2014_web_version.pdf)

The goals of the Pride are:

  1. Access to marriage for same-sex couples
  2. Access to adoptions and to medically assisted procreation techniques for single parents and same-sex couples, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity
  3. Full recognition of parent-child bond for homosexuals parents
  4. Protection from any form of homo-transphobic discrimination
  5. Programs of sex education and gender education in schools
  6. Information campaigns on intersexuality and transsexuality
  7. Awareness campaigns and prevention strategies on sexually transmitted infections

I am going to the Pride this year too, obviously, as the “Roma Pride” is the moment of maximum expression of diversity. It’s a day of meeting, dialogue, exchange, growth and joy; mostly joy. The Pride is, above all, a party, a different way of doing politics. It’s the day in which people can remember that they’re all part of a big family. It’s a party in which people can be free to choose and express their own identities, with their bodies and physicality, even outside society’s conventional and repressive standards. Yes, the Pride is a beautiful, necessary and special celebration. The whole area going from Piazza della Repubblica, where the parade starts, to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele gets closed to the traffic. Over 250.000 people participate. Millions of songs, colors, voices, scents and smiles merge. Until late night you can dance in the street. You feel that the capital is yours, just for one day. I am going to the Pride, because I’m for the equality in differences. Diversity is an asset, and not a reason for discrimination. On that Saturday, the Italy I like to live in takes to the streets: the pluralistic, colorful and multicultural Italy. I am going to the Pride, because it’s a great day of liberation struggle. Everyone at the parade becomes subject of his/her own liberation, in the spirit of a collective freedom. I am going to the “Roma Pride”, since LGBTQ+ rights are my rights too. And I want my rights to be guaranteed, and not just simply granted as if they were a favor. I am going to the Pride on June 11th, because diversity should be promoted and not hidden. I am going, because I want to live in a country in which people can choose, according to their own conscience, whom to marry and how to have children. Futhermore, I want to reaffirm the need to remove legal, cultural and social barriers preventing each individuals’ full realization, as the Article 3 of the Italian Constitution sanctions. I am going to the Pride, because one day I want to be proud of my country.

I am going to the Pride. And you?

 

Read this to become intelligender

On March 11th, in Rome, the philosopher Michela Marzano presented her new book with three goals: putting an end to the fear of ‘gender’ in Italian society, deconstructing gender stereotypes, and making people understand that there is not one, single type of family

Born in 1970 in Rome, Michela Marzano is ordinary professor of philosophy in Paris, at Paris Descartes University. She is the author of many essays and articles dealing with moral and political philosophy. Moreover, she writes for the newspaper “La Repubblica” and she is currently deputy of the Italian Democratic Party. Within the Italian Parliament, she always distinguished herself for her constant activism in favor of egalitarian marriage and against homo-transphobia. On March 11th, at the Casa Internazionale delle Donne, the philosopher held a conference to talk about her new book titled “Papà, Mamma e Gender (Dad, Mom and Gender), which deals with the general confusion characterizing Italian society around the word “gender”. Furthermore, during the conference she reflected on the current, political situation of the country.

FB_IMG_1457727331936

(See: http://www.casainternazionaledelledonne.org/index.php/it/home and https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michela_Marzano)

In Italy, the fear of the term “gender” has caused a living hell. In the last few years, several videos started circulating throughout the web, creating proper phenomena of terror. According to these videos, promoted by several Catholic associations such as “ProVita” and “Manif Pour Tous Italia”, Italian families are told that the government was forced to introduce sex education in schools. Such an education is based on the so-called “gender theory”, which teaches children to choose between being a man or a woman, to change sex whenever they want, and to have sex or masturbation immediately. Therefore, children would be exposed to these dangerous teachings from elementary school. As a consequence, panic spread within families, since this ‘gender monster’ undermines the stability of traditional families. Indeed, the video created by ProVita asks: “do you really want this for your children? NO! No to the gender theory in schools!”

Father: "What happened?" 
Mother: "He's shocked. At school there was a sex education lesson, based on the gender theory"

(See: http://www.notizieprovita.it/missione/ and http://www.lamanifpourtous.it/sitehome/)

Actually, all these information were made up. This is the starting point of Michela Marzano’s new book. Her will is to eliminate confusion around the concept of ‘gender’. Such a confusion has been generated by the emergence of anti-gender movements in order to go against the “DDL Cirinnà”. The fact that the English word “gender” is used, when there is the equivalent word “genere” in Italian language, is symptomatic. In fact, Marzano explains that the real engine of the anti-gender offensive is the terrible homophobia of this country. Gender ideology and gender theory don’t exist. There is a multiplicity of gender studies, instead. The philosopher wrote “Papà, Mamma e Gender” to give tools to teachers and parents, who have to educate kids on diversity instead of reinforcing stereotypes. Michela Marzano carries out a deep analysis of the dangerous abyss in which Italy finds itself. As she explained at the conference, in Italy there is lack of information or, even worse, huge misinformation. Since the best way to overcome fear and confusion is getting informed, parents and teachers have thus to understand the difference between “sex”, “gender” and “sexual orientation”.

1600-Genderbread-Person.jpg

Sex is the totality of the biological, genetic and physiological features allowing us to distinguish the man’s body from the woman’s body. However, the anatomical differences between female sex and male sex don’t imply that we behave or feel in a certain way.

When we talk of gender, we refer to something that gets added to the individual. Nevertheless, there is the need to make a distinction between gender identity and gender stereotypes. Gender identity is the deep, early and long-lasting feeling making each individual feel a woman or a man. In other words, gender identity is the deep perception of belonging to either the female gender or the male gender. Then, there are gender stereotypes, which are another thing. Regardless of how we feel, we often believe we have to behave in a certain way. That’s why we often hear the phrases “this is not a female thing!”, “this is not a male thing!”. Children are thus often told to do things that match their sex, regardless of how they might feel within themselves. Therefore, a boy who loves classical dance is a ‘sissy’ and a girl who loves soccer is a ‘tomboy’. Such stereotypes are very detrimental for kids, because they limit children’s freedom of expression. That’s why the philosopher Marzano invites schools and families to start deconstructing them, because if a little boy wears pink clothes it doesn’t mean he has identity problems. So if we don’t teach children that it’s legitimate for a little girl to like blue and play soccer and it’s legitimate for a little boy to like pink and play classical dance, we create huge problems in their minds.

Sexual orientation is simply about being emotionally and/or sexually attracted to another person. However, it’s important to highlight that it’s not something fluid and that, even though it’s part of our way of being, it’s not a choice. That being said, we talk of ‘heterosexuality’ when we are attracted to someone of the opposite sex; we talk of ‘homosexuality’ when we are attracted to someone of the same sex. However, being attracted to same-sex people doesn’t mean having uncertainties regarding who we are. Moreover, it’s fundamental to underline that there isn’t a cause-and-effect link between gender identity and sexual orientation. Namely, gender identity doesn’t imply a specific sexual orientation.

gender

Michela Marzano asserts that if there are problems at school, it’s because there are young men and young women who feel ‘wrong’ because they don’t correspond to society’s gender stereotypes. Sex education is not about what ProVita spread throughout the media. Introducing gender education and sex education in schools would prevent certain children from being marginalized, hurt and set aside just because they don’t match certain stereotypes. In other words, introducing sex education means opening children’s horizon, fighting sexist and homophobic stereotypes, and decreasing bullying. Since we get educated to the concept of equality, Marzano asked the audience: why should there be problems when we try to undermine gender stereotypes? Teaching little girls that it’s legitimate to be truck drivers means deconstructing the gender stereotype wanting women to be relegated within the house. Therefore, deconstructing stereotypes doesn’t mean deconstructing the concept of ‘man’ and ‘woman’. It would be a great step towards the progress of civilization, instead. As the philosopher said, progress develops when complexity gets integrated. And complexity comes from diversity. If we have a single outlook on world, we cannot perceive and understand diversity. As a consequence, differences shouldn’t become an argument justifying the dominant hierarchy, according to which heterosexuality is superior and homosexuality is inferior. Homosexuality is not inferior to heterosexuality. It’s just different; it’s another way of feeling and getting close to other people. For centuries societies repeatedly affirmed that heterosexuality is the norm, while homosexuality is a deviance. Marzano clearly explained that if we stay within this mechanism we cut off, we discard a huge piece of humanity. And since we are in a ‘scrap culture’, the important thing is to be inclusive and not discard.

Michela Marzano took the occasion to talk about the “DDL Cirinnà” in relation to her book. The philosopher refers to Cirinnà’s bill as the betrayal of the left-wing and as a law humiliating homosexual people. The “DDL Cirinnà” was a compromise, already. What passed at the Senate was the compromise of the compromise. According to her, the bill represents a step forward from a legal point of view, but a step back from a symbolic point of view. Why? Because homosexual people find themselves within the enclosure called “specific social formation”. The “maxiemendamento” was no longer linked to the Article 29 of the Italian Constitution, which talks of family, but to the Articles 2 and 3, which talk of individual rights. However, what the Italian LGBT community expected, for the sake of equality, wasn’t the recognition of individual rights, but the recognition of their unions as family. The removal of the obligation of fidelity is also another proof of Italy’s terrible homophobia. The duty of loyalty, within the Civil Code, is the ability to be helpful when the partner needs help, to be morally liable. Removing any reference to the Article 29, obligation of fidelity included, means believing that homosexuals are not capable of that deep, unique support characterizing heterosexual love, because their relationships are always temporary, fragile and promiscuous. In other words, it’s a way of claiming that homosexual love cannot exist. Such a stereotype must come to an end.

People opposing to rainbow families quote the Article 29 of the Italian Constitution, which affirms that “the Republic recognizes the rights of the family as a natural society founded on matrimony.” Nevertheless, Michela Marzano focuses on the oxymoron the sentence represents in itself. If ‘family’ is natural, it cannot be based on the artificiality of law. And if family is based on the artificiality of law it means it’s not that natural. Furthermore, to all the people claiming that children shouldn’t grow up in same-sex families because they deserve the right of maternity and paternity, the philosopher Marzano replies coherently by using psychoanalysis. According to psychoanalysis, motherhood means to take care, to avoid that life will fall into the empty place of nonsense. Instead, fatherhood means to allow the desire to get along with the law, to understand that we cannot have everything and be everything. It follows that maternity and paternity are roles that can be played by a man just as by a woman. It’s absolutely true that children deserve the right of maternity and paternity. However, motherhood and parenthood have nothing to do with biology. It’s not a chance that French language differentiates between “géniteur” and “parent”. The former is the biological parent, the latter is the mother/father. Therefore, to the Catholic associations saying that it’s important to be on the side of children, Marzano replies by pointing out that it’s fundamental to be on the side of ALL children.

In conclusion, the purposes of Marzano’s new book are noble and legitimate: to reopen dialogue, clarify things and, mostly, overcome gender stereotypes. When we are very young, it’s difficult to defend ourselves. That’s why there should be teachers and parents explaining that there’s nothing wrong with being different. Defining masculinity and femininity is useless and even detrimental, because it means cutting out those who don’t fit in the definition. Therefore, on the one hand, schools should be the first to deconstruct gender stereotypes, teaching kids that there are different ways to become men and women. On the other hand, families should teach children that the concept of ‘mother’ and ‘father’ transcends biological sex, that there are different families, and that love doesn’t belong to a stereotyped class. Deconstructing gender stereotypes means deconstructing the heterosexist, dominant mindset and contrasting any kind of discrimination – such as bullying. In fact, the philosopher reminded the audience of the 15 years old boy who, labelled as “fag” by his peers because he used to wear pink pants, committed suicide in 2012. With her inspiring attitude, modesty and clarity, Michela Marzano prompted people at the conference to cooperate in order to build a society based on equality, remembering that equality and identity are two different things: we are all equal in terms of values, dignity and rights, even though we are all different in terms of identity. What Italy has to achieve is equality in differences, through differences, and thanks to differences.

Heartfelt thanks, Michela.

(See: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP1FBsekgPDDlm3_ogZtuvA and https://marzanomichela.wordpress.com/)

 

Leave Tobia in peace

Surrogacy is a controversial issue having pros and cons. However, the attacks addressed to Nichi Vendola for using it in order to give birth to Tobia Antonio represent Italy’s homophobic backwardness

On February 27th, the leader of SEL Nichi Vendola and his partner Eddy Testa had a baby. Tobia Antonio Testa was born in the late afternoon within a Canadian hospital. The child was born thanks to surrogacy and he will have three passports. Indeed, Nichi Vendola is Italian, Eddy Testa is Canadian, and the Indonesian woman who carried on the pregnancy is an American citizen. Tobia Antonio is Eddy’s biological son, and he takes the name from Nichi’s mother, Antonia Lategola, and Eddy’s father, Antonio Testa.

1401809944-nichi.jpg

(See: https://twitter.com/nichivendola?lang=it and http://www.nichivendola.it/)

Tobia’s birth was in the middle of a political clash. Matteo Salvini, leader of Lega Nord, defined Tobia’s birth as an act of disgusting egotism (“disgustoso egoismo”). Mario Adinolfi, one of the organizers of the Family Day, added that Tobia is just a motherless child. Many politicians strongly insulted the former president of Apulia, Nichi. At the center of the controversy is the fact that he resorted to surrogacy, which is illegal in Italy. Many politicians, expecially those coming from Lega Nord and Forza Italia, affirmed that surrogacy is a form of slavery, as it exploits two women in economic needs: the woman who donates the ovum and the woman who makes her womb available are reduced to a condition of slaves. Furthermore, a child cost around 120.000 euros. As a consequence, children like Tobia represent a selfish luxury for rich people only.

Nichi Vendola is not affected by these insults. Being a father is something he has always wanted. He claimed that there is no vulgarity that can upset his great happiness. Accused of renting a womb, Vendola said that no one can define the relationship established with the woman who carried Tobia in her uterus. It’s a relationship that will last forever and won’t stop with the birth. Tobia is, first of all, the son of a beautiful love story. The woman who carried him for nine months and her family are part of Nichi and Eddy’s life. Vendola added that those politicians insulting him on social networks remind him of a proverb saying “ognuno dal proprio cuor l’altro misura” (everyone weighs the other from his ‘heart’). Eddy and Nichi live together in Terlizzi, Bari, since 2004. The two partners have often highlighted how much discriminated they feel in a state that doesn’t recognize their rights. Indeed, in Italy, there is still no law regulating adoption for same-sex couples. Since the stepchild adoption was taken out from the “maxiemendamento Cirinnà”, Nichi Vendola’s paternity will in fact be recognized in Canada only. In other words, Nichi Vendola has become a father in Canada, but not in Italy. According to the Italian Law, Vendola is just a stranger for the little Tobia.

(See: http://www.ansa.it/english/news/2016/02/29/arrival-of-vendolas-child-fuels-gay-adoption-row_aa4d7427-6b95-4406-9a23-1629b882078c.html)

Laura Boldrini, President of the Chamber of Deputies, claimed that she’s very happy for the arrival of Tobia in Nichi Vendola and Eddy Testa’s family. The birth of a child is always a happy event to be welcomed with joy. She also asserted that disagreeing on a sensitive issue such as surrogacy doesn’t authorize anyone to insult someone else. The topic is certainly complex. The President reiterated her position by saying that she has problems for what concerns surrogacy involving destitute women in developing countries. However, when the women’s choice is free and informed, the situation is different. I agree with Laura Boldrini. Of course, surrogacy represents a huge topic to discuss on. I personally conceive surrogacy as a beautiful, altruistic gesture and not as a form of proletarian exploitation. However, since there are pros and cons, it’s important to open debates around the topic. What it’s fundamental to underline is that surrogacy cannot be simply defined as an impulsive, selfish act. First off, the will of having a baby through surrogacy is always a rational, thought out choice. Secondly, having a baby is always a sort of ‘selfish’ act: couples decide to have a baby to complete their own life journey (what I call ‘positive selfishness’). Therefore, if ‘selfishness’ applies to same-sex couples, it has to be applied to straight couples too.

(See: http://www.ansa.it/english/news/politics/2016/02/29/boldrini-slams-attacks-on-vendola_8adaf4ee-7e82-44e5-9a8c-f1f71df705a0.html, https://twitter.com/lauraboldrini/status/705091720179011586, https://twitter.com/lauraboldrini?lang=it and http://www.lauraboldrini.it/)

b089d4_63fbc75d58e14c738386068963740b53

In Italy, surrogacy started being discussed in the last year since it has been connected to debates on homosexual couples’ rights, for instance with the “DDL Cirinnà”. However, the practice of surrogacy was born for helping infertile, heterosexual couples. Why does the topic create scandal only when it’s used by same-sex partners? I don’t want to enter the issue of surrogacy, since it’s delicate and vast. What I want to reflect on is the condition of homophobic backwardness in which Italy finds itself. Italy is still culturally unprepared to welcome the happy news of a child born through surrogacy because of its conservatism, ignorance and bigotry. Imagine for a moment a conversation among children at elementary school. We are in Tobia Antonio’s class. The other children noticed that Tobia is never accompanied by his mother. They never saw her at school. At Tobia’s birthday parties she is always absent. She never attends parent-teacher’s meetings and Tobia’s school plays. Surely, children will ask, at a certain point: “teacher, why does Tobia have two fathers? Is the mother dead?” To put in other words, I am afraid that Tobia Antonio will find himself in a school that during these years has never talked about or dealt with homosexuality and sex education. Nichi and Ed’s son probably will find himself in a school where teachers still give assignments for Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. Can we hope for Italy to become like Sweden, for instance, in which teachers are prepared and opened to welcome family diversity? Can we guarantee Tobia to live without ever being discriminated? Beyond our opinion on surrogacy, which can be either pro or against, let’s reflect, first. A baby is born. Let’s focus on that. In the world, there is a new life making an entire family happy. Let’s respect Nichi and Eddy’s privacy, then. Tobia is the result of a future that has become possible. Regulating people’s rights, without being imprisoned by prejudices, it’s the only useful thing that we can do as human beings.

Welcome to the world, Tobia. To fight for you too will be an honor.

Straight to the goal!

After the great mobilization on January 23rd, Italian LGBT associations met again. On March 5th, more than 40.000 people demonstrated in Rome against the changes made to the “DDL Cirinnà”, with the will of launching a new era of freedom and equality

Harvey Milk once said that “it takes no compromise to give people their rights.” Italy made a substantial compromise, though, in order to recognize same-sex couples. The “DDL Cirinnà” was approved at the Senate on February 25th. However, major changes were made to the bill. In other words, what passed was a new law, called “maxiemendamento Cirinnà” (Cirinnà’s maxi-amendment) . As a consequence, the Italian LGBT community organized an unforgettable rally in Rome, on March 5th. “ArciGay”, “ArciLesbica”, “Famiglie Arcobaleno”, and “Circolo di cultura omosessuale Mario Mieli” were the main associations that organized, along with other 30 associations, the national demonstration called “Ora, Diritti alla Meta” (Now, Straight to the Goal). 50.000 people from all over Italy gathered in Piazza del Popolo to protest against the new bill and to demand the end of any discrimination.

FB_IMG_1457177665042

What is the “maxiemendamento” about? First off, let’s review the “DDL Cirinnà”. In a nutshell, Cirinnà’s bill is the first bill that recognizes rights and duties to same-sex couples wanting a civil union. The signatory of this law is Monica Cirinnà, from the Democratic Party. The bill takes her name since she is the first petitioner. The “DDL Cirinnà” is composed of 23 articles and it’s divided in two parts. The first part establishes the civil union for homosexual couples, which is defined as “specifica formazione sociale” (specific social formation). The second part disciplines the cohabitation between two same-sex partners. Within the Italian Family Law, Cirinnà’s bill thus creates a new, specific institute for homosexual couples that is different from the institute of marriage. However, civil unions can be compared to marriage for what concerns the basic, expected rights and duties. In fact, within a civil union the two partners acquire the same rights and assume the same duties. In addition, there are mutual, mandatory fidelity and moral-material assistance. Both partners are, therefore, expected to contribute to the couple’s common needs. Lastly, in order to dissolve the civil union, there is the need of divorce. The most important point of Cirinnà’s bill is the Article number 5, which talks of the so-called “stepchild adoption”. According to it, for the non-biological parent it’s possible to adopt the spouse’s child. Even though Cirinna’s bill is not about same-sex marriage and doesn’t allow surrogacy, at least it represents the first step to give full, legal recognition to homosexual couples.

cirinnà

What was approved at the Senate is the “maxiemendamento Cirinnà” and not the original bill. The maxi-amendment is the result of the government agreement between the left-wing “Partito Democratico” (Democratic Party) and the right-wring “Nuovo Centro Destra” (New Center-Right). The changes that were made to the original “DDL Cirinnà” are few, but they are substantial. The senators of the right-wing party insisted on removing all the references making same-sex civil unions look like the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. As a consequence, due to the pressure of the “Nuovo Centro Destra”, the stepchild adoption and the obligation of fidelity were taken out. Furthermore, according to the maxi-amendment, same-sex civil unions can be rapidly broke with a sort of ‘fast divorce’. In other words, divorce can happen without separation period since judges are not necessary. For the rest of bill, the “DDL Cirinnà” remained the same.

(See: http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2016-02-25/italy-senate-to-ok-civil-unions-but-lgbt-groups-are-unhappy and http://www.tgcom24.mediaset.it/politica/unioni-civili-ecco-il-testo-completo-del-maxiemendamento-al-ddl-cirinna_2162113-201602a.shtml)

“CGIL”, “Telefono Rosa”, “Amnesty International”, “SEL” and “Rifondazione Comunista” joined the LGBT associations to demonstrate in favor of a civil country. Moreover, famous public figures went onstage to support the cause against the maxi-amendment. The host of the rally, the journalist and blogger Giulia Innocenzi, claimed that the changes the “DDL Cirinnà” went through represent a slap in the face, a terrible compromise. The singer-songwriter Paola Turci added that those rights that are not for everyone are just priviledges. Francesca Vecchioni said that rainbow families are not an opinion, they are a reality. And the singer Emma Marrone affirmed that the recognition of LGBTQ+ rights benefits everyone. With the motto “chi ama i diritti, li vuole per tutti” (who loves rights wants them for everyone), the Italian LGBT community organized the rally to demand full rights, and not half rights. The goal is, therefore, represented by egalitarian marriage and adoption. The “maxiemendamento” proved the right-wing’s cultural and homophobic backwardness and the left-wing’s inability to be modern and to protect people’s rights. Once again, Italian politics turned out to be really far behind compared to the people it should represent. The Italian LGBT community proved, therefore, to be able to move independently from the political agenda.

                Marrone: "everyone deserves the right to be free"

Interestingly enough, the LGBT community is almost divided in half. Not everyone agreed on the purposes of the event. Some people think that the demonstration was ‘reckless’ as the new bill represents a great victory for Italy. When the Senate approved the new bill on February 25th, indeed, someone celebrated by saying that love won. No, unfortunately it’s not so. A love denied in its purest aspiration, that is parenting, is an offended and undervalued love. The approval of the maxi-amendment cannot represent a point of arrival. It can rather be conceived as the opportunity to acquire new vitality, new impetus and new strength to fight for those rights excluded from the bill. Within the square, there were mixed feelings. On the one hand, there was a sense of defeat for what hasn’t been obtained yet; on the other hand, there was a sense of joy for the small breach opened in the wall of prejudices and bigotry in Italian society. Anyhow, the rally wasn’t an event for crying or simply complaining. Of course, there were anger and disappointment, but the watchword of the square was positive and projected to the future: “straight to the goal”. That being said, on March 5th love won, as Piazza del Popolo was a square of love: love for a civil, secular and democratic society.

piazza-del-popolo-5-marzo-4-720x540.jpg

I was there, in Piazza del Popolo. I lived that square completely. I observed it, I perceived it, I breathed it. I felt a lot of emotions: warmth, pride, joy, union and community. The children of rainbow families made me remember why the rally was right and necessary: because children’s rights must be defended without negotiation. The atmosphere I breathed was a mixture of joy for a small success and frustration for an uncompleted victory. However, the dominant feelings of the rally were community and family, and not despair or depression. The square was a triumph of colors and people, and it was touching for me to realize that the demonstration was happening in Piazza del Popolo, the symbol of the great mass movements of the past. March 5th was a historic day for Italy, not only due to the massive mobilization but mostly for what brought in people’s hearts. It was a day of rediscovery. After the national mobilization that took place on January 23rd, many people rediscovered the meaning of being agents of change. They rediscovered pride and hope. They realized that what they accomplished, even though it’s insufficient, wasn’t reached thanks to politicians, but thanks to the tenacity of an entire community.

As the president of Gay Center Fabrizio Marrazzo explained, the “DDL Cirinnà” represents a partial answer to the claims of the entire LGBT community. It’s the first step but it’s not enough, of course. The struggle for rights continues, then. And I won’t rest until rainbow families’ children will be protected legally. I won’t rest until there will be one law, the same law, for all couples. But, in order to conquer a right, no one has to be left behind. Certainly, not the weakest ones, not children. I will keep fighting, because “who loves rights wants them for everyone”. Enough excuses, then. Enough waiting. That’s why I was there: to demand equal rights and equal duties, since equal rights sanction equality in freedom, while equal duties affirm equality in dignity. Even though I’m just a small dot in the universe, on that day I feel I reaffirmed my identity. I strengthened myself, redeeming the child who dreams and the adult who fights. At the moment, I just want to remember that day with pride, and I want to say it out loud: I was there.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Can a cisgender play a transgender?

The main criticism moved against “The Danish Girl” is that the film is discriminatory towards transgender people. The criticism is easy to placate, though. There are three reasons why the cisgender Eddie Redmayne represented the best solution to play the transgender Lili Elbe.

Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Girl” was subjected to a strong criticism even before the film was released. The fact that the role of Lili Elbe was given to Eddie Redmayne was seen offensive towards the transgender community. Why? Because Lili is a trans woman; instead, Eddie is a cisgender man, namely a man whose gender agrees with the sex he was assigned at birth.

As a defender of the LGBT community, I am the first to claim that such a criticism is weak. First of all, none of these people, who claim that the film is discriminatory towards the transgender community, seem to understand the core of Lili Elbe’s story. “The Danish Girl” is the story of a real person, and it’s a story in which the physical dimension linked to the transition process is the central point. Therefore, for this film it was necessary to choose someone who physically resembled the real Lili also before the surgery, that is, when she still was Einar Wegener. Secondly, the criticism hides discrimination in itself. Being transgender doesn’t necessarily make an actor capable of playing a transgender person. As a consequence, to want a transsexual actor at all costs just because the character to play is transsexual means to consider transsexuality as the only relevant part of a person. In other words, if you want a transgender person because the character to be played is transgender, then you are discriminating him/her, since you are considering the actor for his/her transsexuality and not for his/her skills. Being a doctor doesn’t make you automatically able to play the role of a doctor, as well as being transgender doesn’t make an actor automatically able to play the role of a transgender character. Moreover, in “The Danish Girl” there are several transgender actors playing minor roles, such as Rebecca Root. Therefore, we cannot talk of discrimination against transgender actors. Lastly, Eddie Redmayne is a famous actor, so using him for the role of Lili made more people watch the movie and get informed about Lili’s story. Furthermore, to see a cisgender man playing a transgender woman was a great way to start eliminating the barriers of discrimination and gender stereotypes in our culture. Consequently, having Lili Elbe played by Eddie Redmayne was an important way to give voice and visibility to transgender people all around the world. Thanks to Hooper’s film people knew Lili’s story and started getting educated about transsexuality. In this way, the movie worked as a powerful way of raising awareness on the transgender cause.

(See: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/the-danish-girl-eddie-redmayne-defends-casting-as-trans-artist-lili-elbe-and-reveals-how-much-he-10451250.html and http://www.advocate.com/film/2015/12/23/watch-exclusive-interview-transgender-actress-who-played-non-trans-character-Danish)

The actor’s job is to play characters with credibility and passion. His/her own sexual orientation is not relevant. If the actor gets to communicate, then he/she is doing his/her job. Speaking of Eddie Redmayne, he did an impeccable job in representing Lili. Personally, I find Eddie’s work commendable and groundbreaking, as he didn’t ruin the role he played. Actually, he gave dignity and multidimensionality to the character. The Academy Award winner made an extensive research in order to become Lili Elbe. In particular, he spoke with many transsexuals for more than one year in order to do justice to the role. Plus, he worked with the dialect coach Julia Wilson-Dickson and the movement choreographer Alex Reynolds. They both allowed Eddie to focus on the character’s physicality, for instance the hand gestures and the subtle movements. Through his performance, we can realize how much he cared about this role and how meaningful for him the character of Lili was. In fact, the actor handles every detail of his performance carefully and he is capable of impressive perfectionism. The Oscar winner actor powerfully represented the painful dichotomy of a transgender person, born in a stranger’s body. Lili’s true nature, indeed, can be captured in a painting but not in a mirror. In the mirror there is Einar Wegener, while in Gerda’s paintings there is Lili. One of the most powerful scenes of the movie is when Einar is in front of thr mirror of a tailor shop and confronts himself with his own nakedness. His looks addressed to the reflected image and his attempt to conceal the penis reveal all the drama of the hero/protagonist, who is aware of his carnal prison forcing him to live in a body that is not his own. Indeed, at a certain point in the movie, when she cannot repress her true self anymore, Lili claims tearfully: “this is not my body. I have to let it go.”

eddie2

Eddie Redmayne claimed: “what I found astounding about Lili’s story is her courage.[1] The Academy Award winner adds: “the whole story was new to me and I found it to be a passionate and incredibly unique love story. It was about the lives of two extraordinary women and it moved me profoundly … I hope that in some ways our film continues the discussion, because us learning to be allies to the trans community is so important.”[2] Eddie’s meticulous preparation for such important role is evident in Tom Hooper’s movie. His interpretation is so touching that the choice of casting Redmayne turned out to be the best one. Indeed, the director affirmed: “I still did my homework, thinking about who else I could cast, but my instinct was always Eddie. I felt there was something in him that was drawn to the feminine.”[3] Interestingly enough, it took more than six years to make “The Danish Girl”. As the director explains, “the fact that it’s taken so long is evidence of some of the inherent prejudices against trans stories that people have faced for a long time. So it’s great we got it made.”[4] Of course, directing a story on the first man to have a sex change operation was a huge challenge. Hooper, indeed, said: “what I felt was most important in the end was honoring her role as transgender pioneer or a pioneer of the transgender movement, and communicating her courage. I mean, this is a time before antibiotics, before the invention of penicillin, when the risks of infection were high, and the consequences fatal. The more I worked on the period’s setting, the more I realized not only the risks and the courage, but also the pain she must have been in to be willing to take those risks.”[5] Eventually, the effects were uplifting for both the actors and the director.

Eddie Redmayne specifically claimed he learned a lot from Lili. Interestingly enough, he admitted that when he arrived on the set dressed as Lili for the first time, he felt observed and judged, despite he was in a safe environment. Such a feeling brought him to understand what being transsexual and not conforming to society’s stereotypes really mean. The actor said: “one of the things that I learned while prepping for this film is I sort of, in my ignorance, thought that a trans person had to have gone through some sort of physical transformation, but actually, it entirely has to do with what is in your mind and your soul, and that you can have in no way trying to sort of dress or be. It’s how you are.”[6] For the people criticizing the fact that a cisgender person played the role of a transgender person, the Oscar winner actor replies: “I think it’s a really important discussion. And I think for people to be able to enter into the debate and discussion one needs a certain amount of education and on what trans people have had to go through and the discrimination. You know you can be fired in 31 states for being trans? You know in the past year, there’s been great acceleration in a sense trans issues coming into the mainstream media and my hope is that if this film can just continue that dialogue then that would be a wonderful thing.”[7]

(See: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/the-danish-girl-eddie-redmayne-defends-casting-as-trans-artist-lili-elbe-and-reveals-how-much-he-10451250.html)

venezia.jpg

“The Danish Girl” received an unexpected success in Italy. It was applauded enthusiastically at the 2015 Venice Film Festival world premiere. Interestingly enough, the movie, which works as a ‘transgender manifesto’ film, comes at a time of social relevance for what concerns the affirmation of LGTB civil rights in Italy. In other words, Hooper’s film comes out at the best time, in the period in which same-sex civil unions, “DDL Cirinnà” and transgender culture are highly debated. Within the social context of the country, in which there are still strong controversies around the binomial ‘sexual freedom-civil rights’, “The Danish Girl” shows the difficulties of an individual in undertaking a transformation, in accepting the true self, and in challenging the wall of social conventions. Living an authentic life should be every human being’s ambition, and the message of Tom Hooper’s film is clear and positive: accepting yourself and being yourself are really possible, because “no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” (F. Nietzsche) The lesson Italy learned is that there is a difference between sexuality and gender, as the two things don’t necessarily go together. For those people saying that the film eventually falls into melodrama, we have to acknowledge the fact that, in a period of huge controversy around transsexuality, at least the film throws a stone into the pond. For this reason, Hooper’s movies had great courage in telling the story of a heroine who fought every single day just to be herself. “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.” (E. E. Cummings)

Find the courage to be yourself

“The Danish Girl” tells two stories: the story of Lili Elbe, the pioneer of transgender movement, and the love story between Einar/Lili and Gerda. Elegant and emotional, the film is unforgettable for its aesthetic quality, the messages it gives, and the astounding performances of the two protagonists

poster2

“The bog is in me.” The painter Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) is famous for his dark and tormented landscapes. His wife Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) is a painter too. She depicts portraits and she doesn’t manage to find her way to success. From this preamble, the story of a transition starts being told. One day, Gerda asks her husband to pose for her, in the place of the ballerina Ulla who cannot come. Einar is really embarrassed but accepts the challenge as a joke, and decides to be called Lili for fun. However, when he puts the tulle dress on, something happens: Einar’s true nature, which has been locked within “the bog” for too long, manifests itself. And while Einar realizes that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body, Gerda’s career finds an unexpected breakthrough thanks to the portraits of this mysterious woman called Lili. Einar can no longer keep Lili locked within himself. “Every morning I promise myself that I’ll spend the entire day as a man. But I think Lili’s thoughts, I dream her dreams. She’s always there.” Einar wants to make way for Lili, whom he perceives as a separate entity. Helped and supported by Gerda, to whom he is less and less attracted, Einar runs away from the medicine of his time wanting to intern him as schizophrenic. He thus takes refuge within the experimental surgery, being conscious that what he intends to try is an operation that has never been attempted before.

einargerda3-xlarge

Born as Einar Wegener, Lili Elbe is the first transsexual who attempted sex reassignment surgery. Lili’s incredible story represents, therefore, the first case of transgender surgery recorded in medical history. We are in 1920, a period in which issues concerning gender identity were seen exclusively as diseases or, even worse, proper cases of schizophrenia. Unfortunately, it’s puzzling to realize how difficult is still nowadays for Italy to talk about, understand, and deal with transsexuality. For this reason, “The Danish Girl” offers, finally, an important starting point for the inclusion of transgender people in Italian society, by giving them voice and visibility. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Lili decided to live freely, openly, and authentically: in other words, she decided to be herself. Lili’s story is a vital hymn to courage and freedom. Her great accomplishment makes her the pioneer of transgender movement and still an inspirational figure for transgender people all around the world.

lili.png

The Danish Girl” is the debut novel by David Ebershoff and it is based on Lili’s real diaries. Published in 2000, the book won the Lambda Literary Award in the category “Transgender Fiction” and it was translated into almost twenty languages. The Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) bases his new film on this book. The story brought to the big screen is, of course, slightly different from the real one. It is more simplified and short, due to the obvious needs that cinema has. In fact, in two hours, it’s impossible to cover all the issues related to Einar’s choice – such as, five operations including the transplant of the uterus and the ovaries, the invalidation of marriage, the first legal sex change (Einar indeed, after the removal of the penis and the testicles, gets the passport as Lili, with the recognition of transgender status), the will to get married with a man and the desire of having children. Therefore, Tom Hooper takes poetic licenses by deciding to reinterpret the story and domesticate it to his cinema of grace and formal elegance. For the story of a body that transforms itself, Hooper chooses the disembodiment: Einar’s slow consciousness raising of becoming Lili passes through the mirror of soul, namely through the protagonist’s eyes and face, and not through his body. The director decides wisely not to dwell on the harshest components of sex reassignment surgery, and chooses to touch Einar’s agony delicately. In other words, Hooper decides to reveal Lili’s inner soul, without giving much room to the physical aspects connected to transsexuality. With “The Danish Girl”, the director continues his investigation started with “The King’s Speech”: the exploration of a ‘jammed’ body. In “The King’s Speech” the obstacle affects the speech, since King George VI (Colin Firth) is seriously stutterer. In “The Danish Girl” the obstacle concerns Einar’s whole body, which becomes the container of a soul rejecting it. Packaged in about two hours of emotions, “The Danish Girl” is an important film of great courage, made with great care but above all with the clear will to tackle the personal dramas of being transgender: the inability to identify with the body you were born in and the need for a transformation in a world full of prejudices.

eddie.png

Visually, the film is a gem. Tom Hooper’s directing style is always noteworthy. He uses the camera as if it were a brush. The rapid changes of focus within the same shot and the frequent changes of perspective have two effects: sometimes they overwhelm the protagonists in a world oppressing them, sometimes they make them more distant from each other, as if they were isolated. Maybe his style can seem too smug, but it’s a clever, artistic style from an objective point of view. Hooper’s ‘classic’ style doesn’t result in a glossy academicism, and the frequent close-ups capture every detail of the protagonists’ expressions.

The photography is excellent and it is clearly inspired by Einar’s painted landscapes. Furthermore, Alexander Desplat’s magnificent score goes hand to hand with images. The film creates figurative paintings of great impact; it plays with a rich color palette made of both cold colors and warm colors. Hooper paints environments with a specific palette of colors: blue, cyan, tile and orange. As a result, “The Danish Girl” turns out to be a stunning portrait in motion. The richness of the costumes and the refinement of photography go along with the beautiful backdrops, wonderful interiors, and impeccable chromatic compositions. Therefore, sets, costumes and cinematography work perfectly in harmony as just one portfolio, giving viewers a special and unique visual feast.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

However, beyond the film’s aesthetic value, “The Danish Girl” wouldn’t be the same if it were not for the moving portrayal of its protagonists. The two protagonists dominate the screen and enchant the viewer, showing an unprecedented chemistry. Einar and Lili are played by the British actor Eddie Redmayne, who won the Academy Award as best actor in 2014 for his stunning performance as the cosmologist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”. After Hawking, Eddie Redmayne even exceeds his previous Oscar role and outdoes his best, immersing himself in the dual role of Einar and Lili with a sense of identification leaving you breathless. It is not only a matter of Eddie’s delicate features and ephebic face: his miraculous performance is perceivable in every look, gesture, flutter of eyelashes, and wrinkle. Eddie is the most prodigious, expressionist actor of his generation and he owns a phenomenal expressive range. Not by chance, he was nominated as Best Actor for this great role of pure mimesis and mutation. The British actor is a chameleon. It has an incredible ability to disappear and become another person: he doesn’t play his characters, he lives them. Speaking of this role, Eddie puts himself not only in Lili’s body, but mostly in Lili’s soul. He shows an extraordinary control of posture, gestures, tone of voice, and facial expressions. As a result, his performance is heart breaking and groundbreaking, as it’s made of endless, subtle nuances.

It’s true that you cannot look away from Eddie’s androgynous, ephebic beauty. Yet, his performance rests powerful, remarkable and unforgettable for the sensitivity and the delicacy that Redmayne puts in. In order to play the fascinating yet painful role of Lili Elbe, Eddie transforms himself again skillfully and optimizes his handsome, androgynous physicality. He proves himself to be a multifunctional and courageous actor. Endowed with tapered features, grace and pure beauty, Redmayne is able to take the form of Lili not only in the elegant posture, but also in the slow and imperceptible movements, which are capable of expressing finesse and lightness. The actor thus succeeds in embodying and representing the sensual, tragic, and sublime poetry of female universe. Alongside Eddie, the charming, Swedish actress Alicia Vikander (Anna Karenina, Ex Machina) doesn’t limit herself to play the typical role of the supporting wife: her Gerda is a lively, young woman with an irrepressible vitalism, whose joyful sensuality and femininity are embodied with self-confidence. She gets to gain the audience’s attention even more than his male counterpart. She determines the fate of each scene and in the end she is the real emotional engine of the film. Alicia’s portrayal of a strong-willed, emancipated artist who is simoultaneously Einar’s soul and Lili’s shoulder is simply impeccable. Indeed, she won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.

Set in Copenhagen in the late ‘20s and the early ‘30s, “The Danish Girl” tells two stories. The first story is a story of transformation. The second story is a love story. Yet, the two stories are the same story, and the film is perfectly able to hold them together. Indeed, the process of Einar’s transformation is made possible, above all, thanks to Gerda’s unconditional love. In fact, Einar tells Gerda: “I love you. You’re the only person who made sense of me, who made me possible.” “The Danish Girl” is mostly the portrait of two individuals tight by a bond that transcends social conventions and gender stereotypes to assert its extraordinary uniqueness. Tom Hooper’s film is not only a film about transsexuality, but also a love story of great, emotional strength, in which two equally powerful dramas develop: the drama of the man who risks his life to be himself, and the drama of the woman who decides to help the man she loves by giving up to her dream of living with him. “The Danish Girl” is the story of a brave change and transformation, but above all, is a touching love story between two people complementing each other. Lili and Gerda will continue to belong to each other in spite of everything, indeed.

love

Interestingly enough, we are in front of a film that confuses us about the actual protagonist: who is “The Danish Girl”, really? Probably it’s Gerda, not Einar. We can understand that when we realize who is losing more between the two characters. Gerda loses her husband, while Einar accomplishes a rebirth. Eventually, Lili is free while Gerda is the prisoner of her own suffering. Gerda Wegener’s role shifts from Einar’s wife and lover to Lili’s friend and mother. It’s only through Gerda’s eyes that we can follow, live, understand and accept Einar’s change. Gerda is the only person who has always allowed Einar to be himself. Gerda is thus the extraordinary woman who, due to her generosity and boundless love, remains next to Einar within the long and painful path on her true self. On the one hand, Einar starts leaving more and more room for Lili, perceived as the true self; on the other hand, Gerda witnesses her husband’s transformation with conflicting feelings. This is the reason why “The Danish Girl” is not only the story of a physical change, but also and mostly a love story. What brings Gerda to support Lili at every stage of the surgery is pure love, which is unconditional and goes beyond sexual intercourse. Therefore, Gerda embodies the deepest aspect of love: sacrifice. Within her soul, we find the tragic conflict of love, which deals with the following questions: how do you have to deal with the person you love? Do you have to help him/her in his/her own path even if this involves a painful departure, or do you have to hold him/her tight and make him/her suffer tremendously? Is love taking or giving? Gerda knows the answers and the way she answers represents an incredible life witness.

untitled

“The Danish Girl” received many international awards including the Queer Lion at Venice International Film Festival in 2015. Moreover, Alicia Vikander won the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress. Speaking of Academy Awards, the film was nominated for four Oscars: Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Best Supporting Actress (Alicia Vikander), Best Scenography (Ewe Stewart) and Best Costumes (Paco Delgado). In conclusion, with “The Danish Girl” Tom Hooper brings to the big screen a story of great, emotional intensity. Directed with elegance and balance, and supported by the two protagonists’ astounding performances, “The Danish Girl” is with no doubt one of the best movies of the year.

(See: https://www.workingtitlefilms.com/films/view/film/124 and http://www.focusfeatures.com/the_danish_girl)

10 Reasons to watch Ozpetek’s movie

On March 16th, Ferzan Ozpetek’s “Le Fate Ignoranti” is going to turn 15. Here there are ten reasons why you should watch this movie

Le Fate Ignoranti” is a 2001 movie by the Turkish director Ferzan Ozpetek, starring Margherita Buy and Stefano Accorsi.

le-fate-ignoranti

Antonia (Margherita Buy) and Massimo (Andrea Renzi) have been married for fifteen years. On day Massimo dies in a car accident. Antonia falls into a catatonic depression, until she finds a shocking secret. One day, through Antonio’s stuff, she finds a painting addressed to him from a “fata ignorante” (ignorant fairy). When Antonia finds the sender’s apartment, she discovers with great dismay that her husband Massimo had a lover, Michele (Stefano Accorsi). Such a fact tears her apart. Yet, gradually, Antonia comes into contact with Michele’s special family. His family is composed of eccentric and funny people. Antonia thus discovers a new, different world, in which men and women live together with no age, race, sex and status distinctions. She finds a world full of authentic people, colors, dramas, fun and will to live. Antonia’s first reaction to that world is of profound disgust. However, thanks to confrontation, her experience with this new reality brings her back to life.

Why should you watch the film, regardless of your sexual orientation, political view, and gender identity?

1) It’s an important film to discuss on, for what concerns LGBT rights in Italy and the philosophical reflection on truth behind the movie: is truth always necessary?

(See: http://www.debate.org/opinions/are-there-special-circumstances-when-lying-is-the-right-thing-to-do)

2) Music is beautiful and captivating

(See: https://itunes.apple.com/it/album/le-fate-ignoranti-original/id865301390)

3) The actors are very good. In particular, Stefano Accorsi gives his best interpretation and Margherita Buy proves herself to be one of the best actresses of her generation. They both won the “Nastro d’Argento” for their performances.

4) The film is sentimental, that is, it speaks to the heart and it’s fun and moving at the same time

5) The location is really significant. Ozpetek’s film is a declaration of love for Rome and in particular for the “Ostiense” neighborhood, where the director has been living since 25 years and where the whole movie takes place. “Ostiense” is presented as separated from the rest of the capital, namely as a district in which a vast, variegated and pluralistic community lives freely, outside of society’s repressive norms

6) It’s a multi-ethnic film presenting an ‘extended’, inclusive family, in which cultural, emotional and sexual differences are welcomed with joy and pride. Not by chance, the main set of the film is a huge terrace holding optically the boundaries of an ideal world endowed with freedom and unconventionality

7) The director, who is openly homosexual, faces difficult subjects in Italian society, such as homosexuality, transsexuality, AIDS and LGBTQ+ rights, with originality, realism and simplicity

8) The film is the first Italian film that shows how the depth of feelings can go beyond prejudices

9) The movie is a small gem, useful to remember viewers that true love envisages no limits or restrictions but the right to express oneself freely

10) Since March 16th is the 15th anniversary of Ozpetek’s film, “Le Fate Ignoranti” stimulates discussion on how, in Italy, there’s still a long way from full equality and recognition of LGBT community’s rights.

2021583,KfnjKqgkbh2T0X2VL_oYxQeETSJk7jPV7rXq8nD_PwQ9XFBzVwqcUXsds9NSYsDNY3ruOmmqefLhVA86hafmjQ==

(See: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0274497/ and http://brightlightsfilm.com/gay-pride-italian-style-ferzan-ozpeteks-le-fate-ignoranti-ignorant-fairies/#.VxDMKlLVycw)

Love Shots

On Valentine’s Day, LGBT associations organized a group kiss in front of the Pantheon to face discrimination, to support the “DDL Cirinnà”, and to proudly assert that love is never wrong

Aristotle once said that “love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” It doesn’t matter if the couple is composed of a man and a woman, two men, or two women. Love is universal. However, Italy still doesn’t recognize the universality of love, since on a legal, juridical perspective same-sex couples are still considered inferior. As a consequence, on February 14th the Italian LGBT community organized the photographic initiative called “Scatti d’Amore” (Love Shots) at Piazza della Rotonda to urge Italian politicians to approve the “DDL Cirinnà”.

192157080-c4c52926-caad-4607-aebe-cbf0960967e4

“ArciGay”, “ArciLesbica”, “Famiglie Arcobaleno” and “Circolo di cultura omosessuale Mario Mieli” were the main associations that organized the group kiss to be photographed by several photographers. All the participants placed in a large circle, hand in hand. At 4pm, kisses illuminated the Pantheon: each person kissed and hugged the person next to him/her. Volunteers distributed free rainbow laces, Perugina chocolates and postcards, on which the following motto was written: “un bacio per i diritti. #svegliatitalia” (a kiss for the rights. #wakeupitaly). The event was organized by LGBT associations with the purpose of waking up the Parliament, as it’s time for homosexual love to become visible for the Italian Law. Because love is never wrong. Love has no prejudices, especially on Valentine’s Day. Fabrizio Marrazzo, spokesman for the Gay Center, said that this year Valentine’s Day comes at a particular time, since the Senate is discussing and examining Cirinnà’s bill during these days. Interestingly enough, the “DDL Cirinnà” represented the legislative measure that made people get interested in the LGBT cause the most. Even at the Sanremo Music Festival, the majority of Italian singers performed with a long, visible rainbow bracelet in support of the “DDL Cirinnà”.

(See: http://wiwibloggs.com/2016/02/10/italy-sanremo-becomes-a-rainbow-for-lgbt-rights/123822/ and http://ilkar.blogspot.it/2016/02/sanremo-2016-sanremo-goes-rainbow.html)

192134965-c83366eb-f9ae-4e23-8870-528437d40bd7

“I say YES to Cirinnà’s bill”

I went to the event and I decided to be part of the photographic initiative. I kissed my best friend to prove that the right to love belongs to anyone. We kissed against any discrimination and fear of judgment. Because, no matter your sexual orientation or gender identity is, there’s nothing to be ashamed of: love is love. That being said, it was exciting for me to realize that the event on Valentine’s Day was a continuation of the demonstration that took place on January 23rd. Indeed, the place was the same: Piazza della Rotonda. Many young people and older people met and kissed in front of the Pantheon against any discrimination, to claim their rights once again and to show the natural beauty of love. In conclusion, the event having the evocative title “Scatti d’Amore” represented another opportunity for people to express their right to love and their interest in changing this country for the better.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Family (every) Day

As a response to the “Family Day”, Italian LGBT associations created the campaign called “Family, Every Day” to stress the importance of being a family 365 days per year

Few days after the “Family Day”, the Catholic event stressing the importance and legitimacy of the traditional family, the “Circolo di cultura omosessuale Mario Mieli” started a brilliant campaign called “Family, Every Day”. In collaboration with “Famiglie Arcobaleno”, “CondividiLove”, “Muccassassina”, “Giam” and “Coming Out”, the initiative aims at raising awareness on the existence of rainbow families in Italian society. They are families every day, and not just for one day of the year. The main, serious problem is that these families lack a right and proper legal recognition as well as a fair legislative protection for their children – something that the “DDL Cirinnà” is trying to fix.

Through the “Family, Every Day” campaign, the LGBT community wants to send a clear message to politicians: the essence of a family lies in the ability of those individuals who have decided to undertake a common path with their partner by sharing love, respect, responsibility and life choices every single day. Therefore, the campaign created by the “Circolo di cultura omosessuale Mario Mieli” reclaims the concept of ‘family’ and highlights the fact that ‘family’ is a property and a treasure of the Italian community as a whole, and not a prerogative of a small élite.

Published in several, important Italian newspapers such as “Corriere della Sera” and “La Repubblica”, the campaign reaffirms the full dignity of every kind of family through the brilliant slogan “L’unica tradizione che conta è l’amore” (The only tradition that matters is love). In this way, the will of the entire Italian LGBT community is to restate the importance of recognizing every type of family on a juridical perspective. There is not just one, natural, legitimate family – as the people at the Family Day claimed. After all, what is a family? Family is not based on biology, but on on daily responsibility, commitment and respect: in one word, on love. Family, in fact, is anywhere there is love. As a consequence, Italian politicians have to wake up and recognize both rainbow families and children living within them, who are not in danger at all. Indeed, children’s well-being doesn’t depend on the structure of the family but on the relationships intersecting within it.

The initiative promoted by the “Circolo di cultura omosessuale Mario Mieli” was so beautiful and ground-breaking that became viral in a matter of seconds. On any kind of social platforms, users all around Italy changed their profile pictures to restate the concept of being a family every day, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

untitled

I want to conclude with a simple reflection. Recently I lost my dad’s parents. They lived together for more than 50 years, and they never felt the need of a Family Day to be reminded of the importance of being a family. They never went to support the “Family Day”, even though they were Catholic, because they decided to be a family every single day. They knew that the watchword of all families is love. Love is what makes a family natural and happy, no matter what the parents’ sexual orientation is. After all, as Tolstoy claims, “all happy families are alike.”

Family (one) Day

Instead of being an event promoting inclusiveness and mutual understanding, the “Family Day” stresses the importance of the traditional family – the only possible, legitimate family. The rally organized to go against the “DDL Cirinnà” represents, then, the hypocrisy of Scribes and Pharisees

On January 30th, the city of Rome hosted the “Family Day“- a demonstration organized by several Catholic associations defending the sacred value of the traditional family. The place where the rally took place was the Circo Massimo, which is a huge, green area in the center of the city. The event was organized for a purely political purpose: to overthrow the “DDL Cirinnà”. The catchphrase of the rally was “Difendiamo I Nostri Figli” (let’s protect our children). From what should they be protected? From Cirinna’s bill, which wants to regulate same-sex unions and introduce the stepchild adoption for homosexual couples. Since the stepchild adoption is seen as a surreptitious way of introducing the “utero in affitto” (literally, rented womb – an offensive way of referring to surrogacy), Cirinnà’s bill seriously threatens the ‘natural family’ – the only legitimate one. According to the President of CEI (Italian Episcopal Conference), Angelo Bagnasco, the “DDL Cirinnà” represents a serious and irresponsible distraction from Italy’s real problems. Furthermore, the natural family is an institution on which Italy is radically based. Cirinnà’s bill wants to extend civil unions and stepchild adoption to homosexual couples, making thus natural what is, actually, not natural at all. ‘Family’ is an anthropological fact, and not an ideological one. As a consequence, children cannot be treated like goods, and Italy has to prevent future generations from being ruined by the “DDL Cirinnà”. The Catholic associations at Circus Maximus are still very proud of and rigid on their position. Indeed, during the event, they kept repeating that there were two million people to support the cause against rainbow families.

(See: http://www.repubblica.it/politica/2016/01/17/news/unioni_civili_card_bagnasco_family_day_condivisibile-131482387/)

I am sorry to disappoint Angelo Bagnasco and all the Catholic groups who were at the Family Day, but there is the need to clarify two things. First off, as it often happens in Italy, figures are ridiculously exaggerated. In no way the Circo Massimo can host two million people: it’s a matter of physical space. The area cannot host more than 250.000 people. Why lying about the effective number of people? Secondly, reality is (thankfully) much more complex than the one described by the Cardinal Bagnasco. ‘Family’ is NOT an anthropological fact. ‘Family’ is a purely cultural institution, which is born within society and develops with it. Social customs keep changing in time, and different types of families have been created: there are single parents, blended families, rainbow families, and families without children. Why not taking into consideration such a variety? The truth is that those people who were at the Family Day to ‘protect children’ are still denying the opportunity for Italy to become a pluralistic, inclusive country.

31desk1f01-foto-andrea-sabbadini-family-day-034-1-900x445.jpg

Why protesting, in the name of God, against other human beings, namely homosexual people, who want just the same rights that heterosexuals have? Isn’t Jesus the one who said “if anyone says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar?” (John 4:20) Why conceiving rainbow families not real families? Isn’t Jesus the one who said “do not judge, or you too will be judged?” (Matthew 7:1) According to the people at the Circo Massimo, growing up with two moms or two dads is a sin, because two women and two men don’t constitute a family. Yet, isn’t Jesus the one who said “who is without sin can cast the first stone?” (John 8:7) Speaking of which, God was present at the Circo Massimo in almost any invocation in order to clarify His will, which is to protect the traditional family. The “DDL Cirinnà” wants to recognize same-sex couples as proper unions, and this means legalizing unnatural couples. This is the reason why Cirinnà’s bill has to be rejected: it’s for the sake of the Italian law. However, civil law is completely different from moral law. Juridical realm and religious realm should be set apart from each other. After all, isn’t Jesus the one who said “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s?” (Matthew 22:21)

Massimo Gandolfini: "The DDL Cirinnà has to be completely rejected"

The God of the Gospel and the God of the Family Day seem two different people, then: the latter shouts “NO to the DDL Cirinnà”, while the former claims “this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Therefore, do these Catholics at the Circus Maximus believe in another God? Do they profess another religion? Have they red another Gospel? I don’t want to answer these questions, since everyone responds to his/her own conscience. I rather prefer to conclude by simply quoting Woody Allen, who said: “I have nothing against God, it’s his fan club that scares me.”