An Italian Pop Singer and Public Debate

August 21st, 2009 by

A remarkable event happened earlier this year in Italy… a pop singer bucked the cultural norms that say that gay and lesbian individuals cannot change their sexual orientation, and made a public statement in support of ex-gay individuals, all on national television.

Roberto Marchesini shares this intriguing story here, and it is well worth a look.  The song, entitled “Luca Era Gay,” caused quite a backlash from the gay community in Italy as singer Giuseppe Povia was preparing to sing it at “Festival di San Remo,” a key Italian music festival.  According to Marchesini:

Gay activists threatened to block the festival, and Europarlimentary member Vittorio Agnoletto asked for a European resolution to stop Povia from peforming the song. Povia, himself, received death threats. The gay association “Everyone” denounced Povia to the Procura of the Republic for alleged “homophobia.” These efforts failing, gay activists then asked the Festival organizers to “counterbalance” Povia with a song by a gay singer, about “the perfection of homosexual love.” That effort too, failed.

Marchesini continues:

Before Povia’s song was aired, the Italian comedian Roberto Benigni presented a twenty-minute show in which he condemned Povia, saying that homosexuality isn’t a sin and that gays have been persecuted historically “because they love someone.” He then read an excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s “De Profundis.”

After Povia’s song, contrary to all custom, the conductor gave the microphone to Franco Grillini, former parliamentary member and former president of ARCIgay, the foremost gay association in Italy. Grillini said he had received a cellphone message from a friend (although all celphones were supposed to be turned off during the festival…), who had cried when he had just heard Benigni reading “De Profundis,” because it brought to mind his partner who had died of AIDS. Grillini concluded by saying that Povia must learn what gay love is.

Then, the unforseeable happened: people in the theater started to hiss at Grillini (in Italy, hissing is like booing)! The crowd’s sympathy was with Povia, not with the gay activist.

The video of the performance is below.  When was the last time you witnessed a significant statement being made like this by way of song?  (The sign he holds up at the end is quite bold in its content as well.)

[Link to Video]

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