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Remembering Mario Mieli, Italy’s ‘first gay intellectual’

Remembering Mario Mieli, Italy’s ‘first gay intellectual’

Italy is preparing to remember Mario Mieli, a leading figure in the Italian and international gay movement in the 1970s, on the 30th anniversary of his death (12 March).

Roman association Circolo Mario Mieli, which inherited Mieli’s legacy, will present a book of poems and is going to host a three-day conference in April and a photographic exhibition in Autumn.

Circolo Mario Mieli’s president, Andrea Maccarrone, told Gay Star News: ‘Mario Mieli was a prominent figure in the Italian gay movement of the early years.

‘We did not forget him, but we can also say that his legacy is not “mainstream” at the moment. He was the first activist to link the LGBT movement to the liberation fronts of those years, like the feminist movement or the early transgenders’ movement.

‘Our association inherited his thoughts and his lifestyle. We defend the necessity of a Pride in Rome, because Mieli said that the bodies, our bodies, are essential to the public debate.’

The Circolo Mario Mieli association has about 350 subscribers ‘and hundreds of friends. We are linked to the left but we have a good relationship with the Rome’s right-wing Council as well,’ Maccarrone told us.

Its money comes mainly from Muccassassina, the leading 23-year-old Roman gay night party. ‘We receive public money as well, but for single projects only, like one for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

‘Then we have all the cultural events and initiatives, this is what defines us.’

Mario Mieli (born on 21 May 1952, Milan, and who died on 12 March 1983) was one of the Italian LGBT movement’s most important intellectuals.

He is know among English speakers for his pamphlet Towards a Gay Communism and for his book Homosexuality and Liberation: Elements of a Gay Critique.

In 1971 he moved to London as a student, where he took a part in the London Gay Liberation Front. In April 1972 he held the first gay demonstration in Italy at a congress of sexology in San Remo.

In San Remo he he protested against psychiatric condemnation of homosexual conduct and the use of convertion therapies.

Then, he founded Italy’s first major gay-rights group, the FUORI! (Italian revolutionary homosexual united front, but ‘fuori!’ in Italian also means ‘come out!’).

Mieli sometimes made a spectacle of himself. Once in Rome he publicly ate his own excrement and that of a dog. Many found him outrageous or frightening, but he was also known as a gentle person who enjoyed cross-dressing.

Italian transgender movement Movimento Transessuale Italiano’s president, Porpora Marcasciano, told GSN: ‘I remember him as a very kind man.

‘He was colorful, exuberant, joyful, in a historical period in which personal appearance was everything.

‘And he was a man of contrasts. In public he was a wonderful speaker, he was perfectly able to defend the LGBT cause.

‘But, in private, he did not speak a lot, he was more a listener than a speaker, I enjoyed his silence and I knew that it was a sign of his enormous intelligence.’

Marcasciano, who’s going to stage her first show, called Antologaia, in a Bologna’s theater, said: ‘My show will be centered on his figure as well. He was one of the few Italian LGBT intellectuals we have ever had.

‘In fact, we have to tell the truth: since Mieli’s death, the Italian LGBT movement did not produce, intellectually speaking, anything really interesting.’