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First Italian woman to publicly come out as lesbian dies at 83

First Italian woman to publicly come out as lesbian dies at 83

Mariasilvia Spolato

Mariasilvia Spolato, an Italian LGBTI activist and reportedly the first woman to come out as a lesbian in the country, has died.

Spolato died on 31 October in a nursing home in Bolzano, a city in the South Tyrol province of north Italy. She was 83 years old.

The woman had been admitted to the rest home after developing an infection in one of her legs.

Spolato lost everything after her coming out

Born in Padua, Spolato went on to graduate in mathematics. She then worked as a university lecturer in Milan and took part in the 1968 riots.

She made the headlines when she yielded signs revealing her homosexuality at a feminist rally in Rome on 8 March 1972. Her pictures appeared on Italian magazine Panorama shortly after, outing her to everyone she knew.

As a result, Spolato lost her job and her partner and was shunned by her family.

She had been homeless for many years moving from town to town before ending up in Bolzano.

A special relationship

Lorenzo Zambello, a photographer who had met her when she was living in the rest home, said everyone in town knew her.

‘She had suffered a lot, you could tell from her eyes,’ he told Gay Star News.

‘I met her four years ago when I went to the rest home to take pictures of those living there. She didn’t want me to take her pictures at first.’

He furthermore added: ‘This spring, she came to me while I was taking pictures of the others and asked me for some pictures. She was in her wheelchair. Those were the last pictures I took of her.’

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