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Italy’s First Publicly Gay Woman Dies at 83

The first woman in Italian history to come out as a lesbian has passed on at the age of 83.

Italian gay woman, Mariasilvia Spolato became deceased on Wednesday in an Italian nursing home when she reportedly spent her last days on earth. Her life was a historically significant yet often tragic one.

Spolato was born in 1935, she was a very intelligent person who worked in the academic field and even wrote text books for university students.

Spolato became one of the founding members of the Italian Revolutionary Homosexual front in the early 1970s. She joined hundreds of people on the 8th of March 1972 for a women’s day march but she managed to stand out in the crowd because of the words written on her placard that read “Homosexual liberation”. After the women’s day march, a photo of Spolato was published in various magazines showing her holding up the placard and that led her loosing her job as a university lecturer and also becoming estranged from her family. After the loss of her job and disconnection from her family, Spolato became homeless. She said some time ago that “I slept at friends’ houses, because I could no longer pay my rent. I roamed here and there, from city to city. My home had become the trains. Conductors and engineers from half of Europe knew me. I laid my head wherever I was. I ate whatever I could get.”

For many years after that she remained homeless until gangrene set in in one of her legs and she was transferred to homeless shelter.

The town council is most likely to make arrangements for her funeral since she was estranged from her family while she was alive.

Even though public opinion on homosexuality has experienced a dramatic change in Italy since the days when Spolato’s placard made headlines, members of the Italian LGBT community still deal with a lot of challenges of a daily basis.

Same sex marriage remains illegal in Italy and even though the Italian senate introduced civil unions back in 2016, the recent comments made by political gives us cause to fear that the future of the Italian LGBT community is uncertain.

In August 2018, the Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini expressed his lack of support for same sex parents, surrogacy, and equal marriage.

Matteo cited an example of how he already made sure to erase gender neutral terms from all government resources with the aim to secure a return to heteronormativity.

“Last week I was told that on the website of the Ministry of the Interior, on the forms for the electronic identity card there were ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2,’” Salvani said.

Adding that “I immediately changed the site by restoring the definition ‘mother’ and ‘father.’”

In a similar way, the Italian families minister cancer under fire in the month of June after he made a statement that gay families do not exist legally in Italy.

Mr Lorenzo Fontana added that: “I am Catholic, I do not hide it. And that’s why I believe  that the family is the natural one, where a child must have a mother and a father.”

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