Vincenzo Spadafora, an Italian politician, came out as gay over the weekend during an interview with Rai3’s late-night talk show Che Tempo Che Fa. Spadafora, promoting his upcoming book, Unreserved, explained that it’s his responsibility as a public figure to be visible. “I think that people’s private lives should remain that way, but I also think those with a public role, a political role like mine, have some more responsibility,” he said. “And I did it for myself too, because I learned perhaps too late that it is important to love and respect each other.”
Spadafora, 47, is a prominent member of the Movimento 5 Stelle (MS5), the populist, anti-establishment political party. He's a member of Italy's lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, and he was also formerly a minister for youth, policies, and sport in Italy. He shared that he expects some backlash for coming out, but hopes that doing so will also help to change history in Italian politics of using sexuality as a weapon against political opponents. “In politics, homosexuality is used to hurt, to attack an opponent, something I now want to avoid,” he said. “I hope to be considered for what I do, for what I am, and from tomorrow on maybe I’ll be happier because I feel freer.”
As for why he’s coming out now, Spadafora gave two reasons. “One reason is very political, to testify to my political commitment, for all those who fight for their rights every day and have less opportunity to do so than I have thanks to my role.” The other was to show that, as a practicing Catholic, his sexuality is “not in contradiction” with his faith — though admittedly many in his country may disagree with that latter point.
In fact, only two weeks prior, the Italian senate rejected a bill that would have criminalized violence against LGBTQ+ people, due to opposition from the Vatican and the country’s far-right party. This underscores the need for visible queer people in positions of power, a sea change that Spadafora seems ready to lead.