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social sciences

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Italy's most vibrant gay scenes tend to be in cities in the north, in Milan, Bologna, and Padova. In the south, Naples and Palermo offer the most visible gay scenes. The glbtq community has recently become more visible in Rome, with a gay village in the summer and several awareness-raising initiatives.

Popular seaside destinations for gay men and lesbians include the Amalfi coast, Viareggio, and Torre del Lago.

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The national gay parade alternates between several cities. The most recent parades have been hosted by Milan (2005), Turin (2006), Bologna (2008), Genova (2009), Naples (2010), and Rome (2011); the latter city also hosted Europride in 2011, where pop singer Lady Gaga not only attracted a very large crowd but also spoke out passionately for equal rights.

In addition to the national parades, there are a number of smaller regional and local marches celebrating gay pride, including in Naples and Palermo.

Turin has hosted the Turin International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (TOGAY) since 1986.

The leading Italian glbtq activists include Franco Grillini, first secretary of Arcigay, who served as a member of Parliament for two terms (2001-2008); Paolo Concia, currently the only out member of Paraliament; Titti De Simone, a journalist who served as a member of Parliament for two-terms (2001-2008); Nichi Vendola, who served in Parliament from 1992 until 2005 and since 2005 has served as Governor of the Puglia region and leader of the left-wing party SEL (Sinistra, Ecologia, Libertà--Left, Ecology and Freedom; male-to-female transgender Vladimir Luxuria (born Wladimiro Guadagno), actress, writer, member of Parliament from 2006 to 2008 and winner of the reality show Celebrities' Island in 2008; Ivan Scalfarotto, deputy president of the Democratic Party, Italy's largest opposition party; Paolo Patanè, current president of Arcigay; Aurelio Mancuso, former secretary and president of Arcigay and now president of Equality Italia, the first Italian lobby for civil rights.

In addition to these political advocates, a number of celebrities and well-known professionals have come out as openly gay or lesbian and have thereby contributed to glbtq visibility. These include novelist Aldo Busi; fashion designer Valentino (Garavani) and his business partner Giancarlo Giammetti; fashion designer Giorgio Armani; transsexual actress, journalist and painter Giò Stajano (1931-2011); film directors Ferzan Ozpetek and Franco Zeffirelli; film actor, distributor, and producer Andrea Occhipinti; theater actor Paolo Poli; singer and songwriter Tiziano Ferro; singer and songwriter Renato Zero, and Spanish-Italian singer, songwriter, and actor Miguel Bosé.

The two most important Italian gay magazines are Babilonia, founded in 1982, and Pride, founded in 1999.


The difficulty of securing equal rights for Italian glbtq citizens is prinicipally due to the implacable hostility to homosexuality of the Vatican, the force to which the Italian state historically delegated the control and punishment of homosexuals. Although the power of the Roman Catholic Church has diminished in recent years, it still exerts a strong influence on Italian society and politicians.

Not only are the right-wing parties, led by billionaire media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, firmly opposed to equal rights for glbtq people, but many Catholic politicians in the center-left coalition that opposes Berlusconi are also opposed to equal rights.

Clearly, Italian politicians, and perhaps the majority of Italians, prefer silence to taking seriously the needs and rights of the country's sexual minorities.

Luca Prono

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literature >> Overview:  Italian Literature

Until quite recently, male homosexuality has had a discontinuous, fragmented, and largely condemnatory history in Italian literature, and lesbianism has been almost totally ignored.

social sciences >> Overview:  Mediterranean Homosexuality

Literary and historical explorations of "Mediterranean Homosexuality," undertaken primarily by northern Europeans, have oversimplified a complex reality and may say more about northern Europe than about same-sex sexuality in the Mediterranean.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parades and Marches

Both parades and marches have served to render the glbtq community visible; whereas marches typically attempt to effect political change, parades and pride events affirm identity and community.

arts >> Armani, Giorgio

Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani made his name synonymous with sophisticated and elegant fashion, but even as he achieved spectacular success in business, he suffered the grievous loss of his partner from complications of AIDS.

literature >> Busi, Aldo

Italian novelist Aldo Busi, while eschewing the label "gay writer," nevertheless presents homosexual acts as normative behavior and foregrounds gay sex as an epiphany for his protagonists.

arts >> Caravaggio

The most original painter of early seventeenth-century Europe, Caravaggio imbues his art with homoeroticism.

arts >> Cellini, Benvenuto

Sculptor, goldsmith, memoirist, and flamboyant pederast, Benvenuto Cellini is one of the greatest artists in the history of Western art.

social sciences >> Consoli, Massimo

Writer, archivist, and theorist, Massimo Consoli was the founder of the Italian gay movement and its leading activist.

arts >> Leonardo da Vinci

One of the greatest painters in the history of art and an outstanding empirical scientist, Leonardo was haunted by his illegitimacy and rumors of homosexuality.

literature >> Michelangelo Buonarroti

Best known for his genius in art and architecture, Michelangelo was also an accomplished author of homoerotic poetry.

social sciences >> Mieli, Mario

A leader of the Italian gay liberation movement in the 1970s, Mario Mieli combined a radical theoretical perspective with a courageous (and often provocative) public persona.

social sciences >> Napoleonic Code

Although the Napoleonic Code is sometimes said to have decriminalized homosexuality in France, that distinction belongs to the French Revolution.

arts >> Ozpetek, Ferzan

Thanks to the critical and commercial success of most of his films, Turkish-born Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek has challenged the celluloid closet that silenced or marginalized queerness in Italian film.

literature >> Pasolini, Pier Paolo

Most of the fiction and much of the poetry of Pier Paolo Pasolini, one of the great Marxist homosexual artists of the twentieth century, was shaped by his fascination with the lives of subproletarian youths.

literature >> Penna, Sandro

For Sandro Penna boyhood was the embodiment of desire and the inspiration for all of his poetry.

literature >> Tondelli, Pier Vittorio

Although Pier Vittorio Tondelli occupies a central position within the Italian literary canon, the theme of homosexuality in his work has been ignored or minimized by his critics.

arts >> Zeffirelli, Franco

Controversial Italian director Franco Zeffirelli has won both acclaim and derision for his visually extravagant opera, stage, and film productions, while also provoking the ire of many gay men and lesbians for his anti-gay religious positions.


Aldrich, Robert. The Seduction of the Mediterranean: Writing, Art and Homosexual Fantasy. London: Routledge, 1993.

Crompton, Louis. Homosexuality and Civilization. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Duncan, Derek. Reading and Writing Italian Homosexuality: A Case of Possible Difference. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2006.

Pini, Andrea. Quando eravamo froci. Gli omosessuali nell'Italia di una volta. Milano: Il Saggiatore, 2011.

Ross, Charlotte. "Collective Association in the LGBT Movement,"Resisting the Tide: Cultures of Opposition Under Berlusconi (2001-06). Daniele Albertazzi, Clodagh Brook, Charlotte Ross and Nina Rothenberg, eds. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2009. 204-216.


    Citation Information
    Author: Prono, Luca  
    Entry Title: Italy  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2011  
    Date Last Updated September 17, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2011 glbtq, Inc.  


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