Nichi Vendola on being gay

It almost slipped by me as I was writing my last post, but a reader caught it in the comments. Quoting from the Haaretz profile, which still appears to be the most substantial yet in English on the rising star of the Italian left, I wrote:

Vendola does not see any contradiction between being a devout Catholic and his declared sexual identity. “I have always been Catholic and gay, I have never concealed this and I refuse to adopt feelings of guilt,” he said in interviews with Italian media. “It is easier to talk about this with priests than with politicians.”

Of course the reader in question (and this is why comments matter) asked, “Hm, suppose they have more gay priests than gay politicians in Italy?” How could I have overlooked that one?

It occurs to me that Mr. Vendola was skirting the issue a bit. Instead of looking the homophobic dogma of his Church in the eye and challenging it, he clips his sails to the prevailing winds. It’s easier to talk about these things with priests than politicians; that is, with those responsible for perpetuating the idea that homosexuality is an “evil” among huge swaths of the voting public, and inculcating a mechanism whereby politicians court the vote by adopting the rhetoric of the Church, which is itself bursting with homosexuals dressed up as Clark Kent.

It’s a tricky, Orwellian shtick abounding with smoke and mirrors. I’m always a bit baffled by devout gay Catholics. What exactly do they love about their Church, which is so consistently and stridently opposed to their sexual freedom and does everything in its power to deny them the same rights afforded to heterosexuals, endlessly manupulating the political processes of Catholic-majority countries like Italy to achieve their ends?

I’d love to see an Italian politician courageous enough to stand up to the unlovable Vatican. I bet a lot of disenfranchised Italian voters would support that, too. It might finally give them the voice they’ve been denied for so long by cowardly hypocrites prepared to steamroll democracy every time the pope hiccups the word “relativism.”

Fini or Vendola?

 

Nichi Vendola

Gianfranco Fini’s Future and Liberty party held a big event yesterday near Perugia. The Arcigay lauded his speech, saying:

[Fini’s] clear, explicit language about lgbt (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) and the rights of non-married couples – both heterosexual and homosexual – offer, for the first time in history of the Second Republic, the possibility of a right-wing party which is at last secular, liberal and European which may yet be a catalyst for the growth of an equally advanced Left truly in support of civil rights. The Left we’ve been waiting for for years.

Fini has definitively broken with Silvio Berlusconi. As the latter slips into a pathetic half-life worthy of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, Fini is doing a fair job of convincing skeptics he’s no longer a Fascist.

Nichi Vendola, on the other hand, is being touted by some as “the white Obama”. He has the virtue of actually being gay, and not just mouthing politically correct opinions (still a rare but welcome gesture in Italy). He is also a published poet, a Communist and a devout Catholic. Like Pasolini, on whom he wrote his thesis. One might wonder how he reconciles being gay, Catholic and Communist, but he says there’s no contradiction:

Vendola does not see any contradiction between being a devout Catholic and his declared sexual identity. “I have always been Catholic and gay, I have never concealed this and I refuse to adopt feelings of guilt,” he said in interviews with Italian media. “It is easier to talk about this with priests than with politicians.”

OK so we’re apparently making progress. The two most touted post-Berlusconi politicians are (so far) intent on making sure Italy deserves to be a European country. But can we expect either of them to stand up to the Catholic Church when the going gets rough? Can we expect them to respect the secular nature of the State?

Keep an eye on these two in the coming months.