{ martyrdom }


What is the relevance of the queer reading of Saint Sebastian in relation to Casa del Mutilato? If the building is a monument to men who fought in the WWI, the Spanish Civil War and the Italian colonial wars in East Africa, what was the story of men who didn’t fit in the model of a masculine soldier, namely gay men in the same period?

According to Lorenzo Benadusi, professor of history at the University of Bergamo, gay men undermined the image that Benito Mussolini wanted to project on Italian manhood, seeing Fascism is a virile regime with Italians being strong and masculine, without the possibility of homosexuality existing in a Fascist regime. While no measures were taken on the national level, various local adherents to Fascist regime took the initiative to contribute to the eradication of the ‘degenerate’ men from the rest of the population.

In 1938, some forty-five men believed to be homosexuals were arrested in the Sicilian city of Catania and consigned, together with men from other places in Italy, to internal exile on the island of San Domino in the archipelago of Tremiti in the Adriatic Sea, where they were housed in large dormitories with no electricity or running water. Yet the daily prison regime was relatively mild compared to other prison camps. While some gay men were also interned along with political prisoners on other small islands, such as Ustica and Lampedusa, San Domino was the only prison island where all the exiles were gay.


Rado Ištok