A throng of schoolchildren roll across Rome's Piazza del Parlamento and, clamoring for autographs and handshakes, noisily engulf a bright figure whose long black hair, loose turquoise blouse, and flowing patchwork skirt toss gently in the breeze. The unlikely object of their adulation is Vladimir Luxuria, Italy's first and only transgender member of parliament'who, before her election, was best known as founder of Rome's avant-garde gay nightclub Muccassassina 'The Cow That Kills'; it's just as absurd in Italian. The school's principal, a squat man with an unruly mustache, stops her, blurting that they've come from the southern region of Puglia one of the most conservative, least cosmopolitan parts of Italy, not far from Luxuria's own hometown and asking Luxuria to pose for a snapshot. Next to me stand an impeccably dressed straight couple who have witnessed this scene, their Roman chins cocked high. The man, glancing pointedly at my T-shirt and cargo pants, rests his load of Gucci shopping bags on the cobblestones, asks in English if I am an American, then says, 'USA, not France, gave the world democracy, and this is why I'm always in my heart a yankee. But I ask you, could there be a Senator Vladimir in America?
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ROME — Under the fleeting light of an autumn half-moon, an Italian medical student made his way to the top of a modern high-rise in east Rome, not far from an ancient arch built by the emperor Claudius. From the 11th floor of the apartment block, which once housed a pasta factory, the year-old could probably just discern the darkened outline of the Colosseum about a mile away. It may have been the last thing he saw. But there are homophobes, and those like that must search their consciences. His suicide in the early hours of Oct.
Sure, the ancients were known for a little man-on-man canoodling: One of their most celebrated emperors, Hadrian — a notorious daddy-bear type — created an entire cult around his famously beautiful companion, Antinous, who died at the tender age of And in the 16th century, Tuscan-born artist Giovanni Antonio Bazzi made a name for himself while working in Baroque Rome under the nom de fresco Il Sodoma. But for a city long associated with Heralded Homosexuals of History, both purported Michelangelo and confirmed Valentino , my boyfriend and I found very few visible signs of gay life during the two years we called Rome home. Yet during the time we lived there, just walking around the city and going about our lives, Brian and I were always surprised by how few openly gay people we seemed to gaze upon. We saw signs of the Mafia everywhere we looked, but the Gay Mafia?