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Italy's Gay Siberia

"And then, in the 1930s, Mussolini’s regime rounded up hundreds of gay men, mostly from Sicily and Naples, and dumped them here, for the crime of just being who they were.

The Tremiti are significantly less Siberian in feel these days. In summer, ferries bring Italian holidaymakers from the mainland port of Termoli, an hour away. There’s a helicopter service from Foggia too, although this is no high-roller’s paradise, like Capri. The shops here sell flip-flops and beach bats, not Ferragamo or Bottega Veneta. Pugliesi come to enjoy the slow pace of life, rent boats to explore tranquil bays, and enjoy a spritz or two as the sun goes down. The islands are also a summer magnet for divers and snorkellers, with their warm, clear waters and teeming schools of fish.

A new book, L’Isola Degli Arrusi (The Island of Arrusi), by Rome-based photojournalist Luana Rigolli (available from her website), contains hauntingly doleful pictures of the men, whose arrests would have brought shame on their families back home. They seem defeated as they stare out of the pages. However, although a curfew bell rang at 8pm every night, locking them away, companionship also brought a sense of freedom, unwittingly creating Italy’s first openly gay community. For the fascists, they had to be rounded up and hidden away because they went against the assertion that all Italian men were strong, macho and virile. When war broke out in 1939, they were returned to the mainland to face house arrest and dishonour."

Still, I'm betting they made the best of it.

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by Anonymousreply 1June 9, 2024 1:47 PM

Are Italians white?

by Anonymousreply 1June 9, 2024 1:47 PM
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