Thursday, June 9, 2011

Update: More details on Lady Gaga at EuroPride in Rome


There are a few certainties when Lady Gaga makes an appearance: a crazy-ass outfit, crazy-ass hair and makeup, and drama. Since her appearance at EuroPride was announced three days ago, the drama precedes her presence in the Eternal City.

First, the cranks and the crazies (aka Italian politicians) had to have their say.  Second, the important role that American diplomacy may have played in completely resuscitating the event is slowly coming to light.

Unsurprisingly, the drama emanates from the extreme right wing political parties. From the Fiamma Tricolore (Tricolored Flame), a neofascist extreme right party:

"We will prepare for the launch of tomatoes at the international pop star. We can not tolerate the queen of nothing to give us lessons in justice. There is only one family, the traditional one. We have a moral obligation to defend it."

Another group, the Militia Christi (figure that out yourself), carried a banner at the Campidoglio, Rome's city hall, to shame Rome's mayor, Gianni Alemanno, himself a conservative politician, for participating in the march and for receiving Lady Gaga at the Campidoglio before her performance.

But it's going to be so fun! You guys should go!

Can you top that, Catholics? Well, they are still sore about the Judas video, after all. We'll have to wait and see the Pope's official comment. But Paola Binetti, a politician for the UDC (the Union of Christian and Center Democrats), is scared that the Pope might get his feelings hurt. "Whenever Lady Gaga insults the Pope, whoever invited her should be held responsible. I appeal to the good taste of the demonstrators, to their prudence and even to their conscience that what is in play has a strong cultural characteristic." Well, yes, obviously. 

Enough about the crankies and the crazies. Let's talk about the fact that there were no sponsors of the event until Lady Gaga attached her name to it

Before Gaga's agreement to appear, participation was forecast as low and the event risked flopping. No Italian company or organization had the palloni to attach their logo. Even Fiat, the Italian car company that sponsored EuroPride 2010 in Madrid, didn't come forward for this year's event for some reason. But thanks to the work of the American ambassador David Thorne, the rest of the State Department, and the heads of Universal Records, Gaga is coming and the event looks like it will be one for the ages; estimates on attendance have quadrupled from 500,000 to 2 million.

A very sparkly Saviour.
Organizers first approached the heads of Universal, who embraced the cause. Then, EuroPride organizers suggest, the State Department got involved just as the Italian Parliament was scuttling a law on homophobia and hate crimes. "Surely the political situation in Italy influenced the decision of the Ambassador to intercede in the request" to Lady Gaga, say the organizers.

"Italy," explaned Paola Concia, a member of Parliament for the Partito Democratico and the sponsor of the hate crimes bill, "is the only founding country fo the EU to not have a law on the rights of homosexuals and this is clear to the European institutions and to the State Department USA."

Italy remains one of the least progressive European countries regarding the rights of homosexuals--no civil union recognition for couples, no anti-hate crime or discrimination laws, and no enforcement of the European Union directive requiring equal treatment for all in the workplace. Continuing in her personal role as champion for LBGT rights, Lady Gaga requested a report from Universal about the status of homosexuals in Italy, from which she'll craft her own remarks.

But you don't need a report to figure out that Italy's attitude towards gays, lesbians and transgendered is a bit, ahem, behind the rest of Europe. Walk down through Rome's gay district--it's a single street near the Coliseum, a far cry from the gay districts of most first world metropoli, and while I lived in Rome, it was the site of a handful of anti-gay assaults. Or listen to the Prime Minister, who is on record opposing gay rights. Just last year, after accusals about the hypocrisy of frequenting underage prostitutes while being against gay rights, he retorted: "It's better to be passionate about beautiful women than to be gay."

Even more recently, another politician attacked Rome's Ikea for running the advertisement below. The pol, Carlo Giovanardo, undersecretary to the Prime Minister, commented in an interview that "the message they are sending is completely against our Constitution."

It's also interesting that the State Department is able to promote more progressive laws abroad than within its own country. Here's Ambassador Thorne's statement on Gaga's appearance:

I am delighted to hear that Lady Gaga has agreed to participate in EuroPride Roma 2011.  Lady Gaga has been a public advocate for LGBT issues, which are very important to us.  
As Secretary Clinton says regularly: "human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights."  I am very proud to have an Italian-American artist of her stature visit Rome and we look forward to the concert.

The details of Gaga's presence: on stage by nine, on the way to her private jet a half hour later. Most likely she'll play "Born This Way" on piano. With the presence of Lady Gaga, the mayor of Rome, Nichi Vendola, and possibly the American Ambassador Thorne, security will be extremely tight.

For further reading, 06blog, La Repubblica,, Il Fatto Quotidiano, Il Messaggero and Dagospia (all in Italian). In English: Washington Times, Pink News, AFP.

And for those lucky enough to be in Rome this weekend, be aware that the protest march will seriously screw up public transport, particularly the following buses:  C3, H, 3, 16, 36, 38, 40 Express, 60 Express, 64, 70, 71, 75, 81, 84, 85, 86, 87, 90, 90D, 92, 105, 117, 118, 160, 170, 175, 186, 271, 360, 571, 590, 628, 649, 673, 714, 715, 810, 910 e i tram 5, 8 e 14. 

As usual, ATAC is a must-check.

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