Friday, 22 March 2013

Science, it's so gay!

According to Gian Paolo Vanoli (of Grillo's M5S) vaccination jabs cause homosexuality, which, is obviously an illness and future generations will suffer the repercussion of the genetic transmission of the disease.
Another Movimento 5 Stelle member, new spokesman Claudio Messora, famously declared that AIDS is a big con and that HIV is not transmissable.
Homophobia + mumbo jumbo, a match made in heaven!

Monday, 25 February 2013


This morning I went to vote holding a roll of toilet paper. I had to explain that it was not a political statement, but I had run out of tissues. I had to explain that wasn’t a political statement either, just a bad case of running nose. Yet around there were several faces looking like they could use a kleenex and not because of a cold.

More than for any other Italian election (and that’s something) I hear of people going to the ballot place with a sinking heart and not coming back much relieved. Many are not going altogether. But you don’t want to hear about that, the Guardian has already explained Italian politics superficially enough and that’s all you need to know.

Foreign newspapers seem to be unusually interested in the Italian elections this round, media attention from abroad inversely proportional to the locals' enthusiasm. I have the impression that we were much more taken by the US elections than by our own, no wonder. It’s nothing new for Italians to go to the ballot box only so that the worst-man may lose (which seldom happens anyway). So much for hope.

And yet, one thing these elections managed to do for me is surprise me. I am not talking about the outcome, that can hardly be surprising, I am talking about people.

Berlusconi has been in power in this country for most of my adult life so far and yet I only know a handful of people who voted for him and even less who admitted doing so. Well, that’s obvious, I’ve always thought, we tend to hang out with people holding opinions similar to our own.

As the electoral campaign trickled down Facebook posts in the past few months, I was  genuinely flabbergasted by how many of my Facebook friends were going to vote for Beppe Grillo. The shock was such that I hardly had the stamina to react. You may want to turn elsewhere for a socio-political analysis of Movimento 5 Stelle, and if you can read Italian I recommend the analysis by the writers’ collective Wu Ming on how to tell the left from the right. My point here is that I would have never expected that, out of the blue, I’d disagree so profoundly with so many people I know.

Emma Goldman said that if voting changed anything they would make it illegal. I actually think it is true, but I’d amend my personal version to: if voting changed anything for better they would make it illegal. The problem is that voting, and NOT voting, can change things for worse.

So I went out this morning, armed with a roll of toilet paper. Blew my nose and clamped it tight and voted so that the worst-MEN may lose.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


How many times did you come out today?

It’s a question I often ask myself. Because, like it or not, coming out isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime-finally-lift-this-weight-from-my-chest thing, and out I am. Breathe.
After you’ve done your big ones: you’ve come out to yourself, your parents, your friends, your co-workers and sometimes your soon to be ex heterosexual partner… then you start the daily coming out routine. You come out at the newsagent’s, at the grocery store, the hospital, the post office. Or at least, I think you should.

Visibility is to us like the air we breathe, vital. Not because we are inescapably flamboyant and ostentatious, though there is nothing wrong with that. Not because we feel compelled to “shove it in people’s face”. But, literally, because if we are not visible we are dead. Our relationships don’t exist, our lives don’t exist, we don’t exist.
Yesterday I went to have my legs waxed (yes, contrary to popular opinion even lesbians sometimes do that) and the lady at the parlour told me: “Your wife came last week, she’s lovely”. She made my day. I don’t mean because she said my wife is lovely, which she is, but because she said YOUR WIFE. Not your “friend”, not “the other girl”, not “is that your sister?”, but wife!

Words are important. They are the way we get closer to understand each other. It is not just wrong word = wrong message. Wrong word and the further away we are slammed from one another.

One of the reasons we got married was that we wanted my grandmother to understand what we meant to each other. Marriage was something she could understand, it was in her language.
She couldn’t make it to the wedding in Amsterdam, but my then 89 years old, Italian, catholic, conservative grandma’s present to us were the embroidered bed sheets of her wedding night.
“Partner” is too modern a word for an 89 years old lady, but with “wife”, you can’t go wrong.

Words are important and words are alive. Every time I come out saying I am married and I have a wife, the word marriage blossoms with new meaning.
Sometimes when we say “my wife” we get a sort of comedy of errors effect. It doesn’t just cause surprise, it makes people uncomfortable. Sometimes people ask “are you the man then?” – “Nope…”. And the dismantling of heteronormative, patriarchal discourse begins, while you are buying vegetables.

A word in the wrong place? No, a word in a different place.
So marriage equality is not about being all the same, it’s about being all different.
In a great strip from Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For Sydney proposes to Mo: “Will you do me the honor of paradoxically reinscribing and destabilizing hegemonic discourse with me?”
We put it on our invitations. We found it hilarious. Most straight friends didn’t get it. But, hey, education is a process!

Every time you come out you are educating someone, you are making things better.
Is it exhibitionistic? I really don’t think so. Sometimes it is fun to shock people, you get some truly remarkable reactions. I have a whole collection. Hysteric laughter from the real estate agent, “well done” from the baker, a discouraging amount of questions about sexual mechanics, general embarrassment, and some people just flee. Most of the time coming out again and again is difficult, tough, annoying, possibly even dangerous.
Visibility is hard work, not only does it make you vulnerable in many ways, it also wears you out. Tell a story, explain, explain, explain.

I understand that there are people who have very good reasons to stay in the closet. I accept it. I don’t respect it.
When I got married a dear friend said she couldn’t come to the wedding because other people might realize her homosexuality, by association. You go to a queer wedding, you must be gay. My visibility threatened her.
On a personal level I accepted it, though it hurt, on a social and human level I never will.

Each and every out LGBT person has paid a price for their visibility, the consequences of their so called “lifestyle”. It has never been easy for anyone, but thanks to all those who came out before us and come out every day, it becomes easier.
In this sense every silent closeted gay or lesbian is a threat to our life in much the same way wailing bigots are. I might feel differently if I lived in Uganda or in Saudi Arabia, or in any of the countries where gays and lesbians are killed, imprisoned and persecuted for their sexual orientation. Precisely because I don’t live in one of these places, coming out is a duty.

Precisely because I live in Italy, coming out is a duty. In this province of the Vatican state homophobia is rampant, tolerated and at times endorsed by representatives of the institutions. Visiting the Netherlands, our former Prime Minister, swamped in sex scandals, could think of nothing better to say than that his “passion for girls was better than being gay”.

When we got back from the Netherlands, proudly and happily married, we dared not go right away to our town hall to ask for the transcription of the wedding on the Italian register. We didn’t dare to because we knew it couldn’t be done and we weren’t ready to hear that no, we were not married, not so soon, not yet.
Six months later we were walking back home from the register office, waving a piece of paper. It says that the transcription of our marital status had to be refused because it’s “against the public order”. The officer who had to put a stamp on the piece of paper was sincerely sorry and puzzled, and even if she hadn’t been, we would still have made a difference.

How many times did you come out today?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Resurgence

(WARNING: This is post contains personal political beliefs.)

Not only has the Berlusconi era thrashed the last bit of dignity of this country, most tragically it has exterminated its hope, will power and, ultimately, brains.

You know that a country has really sunk beyond revival when its people are imposed a government of barons, bankers and bigots and they genuinely cheer about it... because they have been told that it's the solution to a crisis caused by barons, bankers and bigots.

Don't get me wrong, I am ecstatic about Mr B's long due departure. I am not happy at all about how it happened. We needed Revolution, we got Restoration.

We are back to the roots now, back to the old-line liberal conservative politics of 150 years ago, as Norma Rangeri wrote on il manifesto today. We are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Italy, we are really celebrating the 1st... Let's see how it goes this time.

The bankers of God
Monti's supposedly technical, non-political government.

The week that changed Italy - a minimal press gallery

Letting technocrats run Europe is bad politics and bad economics 

It's a mistake to put unelected officials in charge of Italy and Greece (ADITYA CHAKRABROTTY - The Guardian)

Democracy must not be regarded as merely an optional extra when solving economic problems. (DAVID SKELTON - NewStatesman)

Banker's Choice

How Europe propped up the buffoon Berlusconi

Italian politics was a joke. But, within the security blanket of the eurozone, most people simply shrugged their shoulders (JACKIE ASHLEY - The Guardian)

Berlusconi's exit – what does it mean for Italy? Seventeen years of Berlusconi has meant rising poverty, rampant price-fixing, strengthened organised crime, a burgeoning black market and a shocking brain drain. So what next for troubled Italy? (TOBIAS JONES - The Guardian)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Occupy the world - Meanwhile in Italy

Sorry about the interruption... we were trying to occupy everything.

Dismayed by how things turned out for the worst in Rome, this blog has avoided commenting on the October 15th worldwide protest.
There we go again, we thought, we always stand out for the worst: the worst government, the worst police, the worst little violent proto-fascist few.
Following the news about the "Rome riot" we felt exactly what the mainstream media wanted us to feel: shame or scorn.
Some of us were ashamed because Italy was ruining the party for the whole movement. The other half was looking with contempt, having confirmed that the pinkos out there are dangerous.

So while the whole world was making a difference, we were plunged back in the same usual pit of petty politics, recrimination and whining.
In the Italian press you won't find news about what an incredible day the 15th of October was on planet Earth, but you can profusely read the comments and reactions of pretty much any obscure public figure, you can be lectured about the deep roots of violence in this country, you can find improbable interviews to mysterious black bloc members.

Once again we are the 99%. Once again only the other 1% counts.

Millions of people in 82 countries, 951 cities across the world, participated to the Day of Rage, peacefully. [pictures] 500,000 people in Madrid listened together to Beethoven's 9th symphony, massive demonstrations of the indignados all over Spain (350,000 in Barcelona, 100,000 in Valencia, 40,000 in Zaragoza). There were amazing scenes of cooperation in New York where 10,000 protesters 'took their message from the outpost of Zuccotti Park into the heart of the city, thronging into Times Square' (the Guardian). And then London, Berlin and Tokyo, Athens, Chicago, Copenhagen, Frankfurt am Main, Santiago del Chile, Toronto, Zagreb, Sydney, Lisbon, Brussels, Cairo...
...and yes, Rome with 200,000 marching and a few idiots smashing, with the compliance of the police and the government.

As Repubblica journalist Vittorio Zucconi commented:
A government that is unable to grant order and security during an authorized and peaceful protest, a government that is unable to foresee what we all feared, a government that allows a few hundreds smashing professionals to easily join the flow of the march, wearing uniforms and gas-masks [...], should resign rather than exploit the actions of these hooligans. All the more, if the same day in no other world capital, where similar demonstrations were taking place, anything like this happened.

Now the Italian government will be discussing special laws to increase the police power and put a stop to
"Preparatory acts to commit violence".
Acts such as surrounding a square of mostly peaceful protesters, obstructing all ways of escape? Driving a police van at full speed in a square full of people? Or raiding a school in the middle of the night, beating people and planting evidence(*)?

Oh wait a minute, the last two are not preparatory acts to commit violence, they are just plain acts of violence, so sorry about the misunderstanding.

Condemning young people to unemployment and precarious work
Cuts to the health system and to education
TVnews and politicians daily fomenting hatred against immigrants
Taxing the poor and letting the rich prosper
ARE all preparatory acts to commit violence.

The occupation goes on, spread the word, join the protest, occupy everywhere, "crush the hatred play your ukulele naked".

Friday, 2 September 2011


«I'm leaving this shitty country of which I'm sickened!»

It was not an unemployed researcher joining the stream of Italian fleeing brains, who said this.
It was not a lesbian woman or a gay man, who got married in Amsterdam or New York and who does not have any recognition and spouse rights in Italy, who said this.
It was not a factory worker, who after twenty years on the job watches the production being displaced to more profitable countries, who said this.
It was not an immigrant, arrived with immense strain, who hoped for a better life and found exploitation, injustice, discrimination, who said this.
It was not a pinko, an "indignado", a dissenter, a communist, who just couldn't take it any more after 17 years of Berlusconi, who said this.

It was Berlusconi, who said this.

"One of them things you say late at night!"

Yeah, he said that too. After all what Prime Minister hasn't...
"late at night, with half a smile on your face, paradoxically, as something that does not exist".

No worries, he reassured he is not going anywhere, he's staying right here "to change the country", to solve the big, ominous problem of Italy...

phone tapping!

For once Berlusconi and I have something in common: rampant unpatriotism. Though if he really wishes to leave this fraudulent dump, I might as well stay.


don't miss the new movie by Gustav Hofer e Luca Ragazzi, award winning authors of Suddenly last winter