Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rosario Crocetta

OK – pay attention. Let’s go back to October, 2012. Let’s say you’re a politician running for governor of Sicily, Italy – on an anti-Mafia platform. Let’s say you’re one of ten official candidates. Let’s say you’re not only anti-Mafia, but openly gay, to boot. You don’t need to be reminded that Sicily is traditionally Italy’s most homophobic region. People think you must have a death wish. But let’s say you won the election, with more than 30% of the vote, more than five percentage points ahead of the next closest rival.

Let’s say I’m not making this up. Rosario Crocetta, age 62, accomplished the near-impossible. His election was the first time a leftist candidate won the regional governorship in Sicily since 1947, the first time an anti-Mafia candidate won, and certainly the first time an openly gay candidate emerged victorious.

In 2003, as a member of the Italian Communist Party, Crocetta had won election to become mayor of Gela, a city on Sicily’s southern coast that is his home town. He made history by becoming the first openly gay mayor in all of Italy. A year before he left office in 2009, he switched party alliances and became a Democrat. However, his anti-Mafia platform resulted in numerous death threats, requiring 24-hour-a-day police protection. Assassination plots were waged against him in 2003, 2008 and 2010. Undeterred, he went on to serve two terms as mayor of Gela, then moved on to become an Italian representative to the European Parliament before running for governor of Sicily.

When Crocetta assumed office as governor, Sicily was close to default on its debts, thanks to reckless profligacy in the regional administration, and its last governor had resigned amid claims of corruption and links to the Mafia. Crocetta was able to cope with the nearly insurmountable odds against him, until his mother got wind of an assassination plot against her son. She quit eating and died forty days later. Crocetta went into therapy.

A smoker with a penchant for blue framed glasses, Crocetta says today, “I’m homosexual, which I call a gift from God, and no, I don’t hide it one bit!”. Talking about his successful campaign for governor, he said, “the fact that I’m here is almost inconceivable. Even I’m surprised.”

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