Bologna la Rossa (the red) but also Bologna Arcobaleno (LGBT+ Community): here is an excerpt on the most representative places for the LGBT+ community written by Jonathan Mastellari on behalf of the Arcigay association “Il Cassero” (the Italian national gay organization) of Bologna.
At Palazzo D’Accursio, the city’s town hall, Marcella Di Folco was elected municipal councillor of Bologna in 1995, being the first transsexual in the world to hold a public office. In the 70s, the period of her filmmaking activities, she was the protagonist of many films by Federico Fellini; she also worked with Roberto Rossellini, Dino Risi and Alberto Sordi. In 1988 Marcella became President of the MIT (Transsexual Identity Movement) and in 1997 vice president of the National Observatory on Gender Identity. She intended to create a counselling centre for transsexuals, the first in the world, which was self-managed.
Via Borgonuovo No. 4 is where the birthplace of Pier Paolo Pasolini is located, the famous Italian director and intellectual, symbol of the identity development of the Italian homosexual community. Pasolini was born in Bologna in 1922; the Renzi Library of the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna (Bologna Film Archive) hosts the Pier Paolo Pasolini Studies-Archive Centre, where more than 1000 audiovisual works about his films are preserved, together with the artist’s documents, magazines and monographs.
In via Zamboni No.1, the Kinky Club is a historic and entertainment place of the LGBT+ community. In the ‘70s, when few Italian cities had gay-friendly bars or clubs, it was one of the first clubs in the town to welcome the LGBT+ community without any prejudice.
Via Polese hosts the headquarters of the MIT. The MIT is an NPO (nonprofit organization) founded in 1982 and engaged in the fight against discriminations related to gender identity. Via Polese was also the location of the “Paquito”, the city’s historic cruising bar.
In via Don Minzoni, Salara is another place of paramount importance for the LGBT+. Originally conceived as a salt warehouse, the structure currently houses the offices of the Cassero LGBT Centre, the longest-running Italian LGBT+ association, and of the Arci Gay stronghold in Bologna. A big Documentation Centre, one of the largest libraries specialized in gender and LGBT+ subjects in Italy, is also to be found here.
Just behind Il Cassero, proceeding towards the Cavaticcio Park, is where the Lumière Cinema has its seat. For years, this space has been hosting international festivals related to gender issues such as Gender Bender (organized by Il Cassero) or Divergenti (Divergent, organized by MIT), both focusing on LGBTI topics. In December 2012, the Municipality of Bologna named the small square in front of the theatre’s entrance after Pier Paolo Pasolini.
In 2012, then, it was the time for the Stefano Casagrande garden to be inaugurated. Located within the medieval walls , this green space is dedicated to one of the most famous artists and activists of the Bologna gay movement, Stefano Casagrande, who also contributed to founding Il Cassero.
Via del Pratello, a symbol of the bohemian soul of Bologna, during the ‘70s and ‘80s was well-known all over the country for being a free and nonconformist meeting area. Nowadays, it’s still filled with gay-friendly bars to enjoy a drink or a snack together.
Porta Saragozza (one of the Bolognese gates) embodies the historical memory of the LGBT+ community more than any other place.
Inside the barbican (cassero in Italian) of Porta Saragozza (hence the future name of the local Arcigay association), innumerable initiatives and events took place over time. Therefore, in 2012, Porta Saragozza was chosen as the starting point of the National Pride Parade. Close to the gate you can enjoy a walk along the Park of Villa Cassarini, where a special monument stands proud. Sure enough, Bologna was the first city in Italy to create a public symbol to commemorate the Nazi-fascist persecution of gays, lesbians and transsexuals. Such monument, designed by the architect Corrado Levi, is the first one in Italy and one of the three official ones in Europe, consisting of a memorial stone and an upturned pink marble triangle, recalling the symbol that homosexuals were forced to wear, pinned to their jackets, in extermination camps.
Finally, it is worth mentioning Villa Aldini, the building used by Pier Paolo Pasolini for his last movie’s exterior shots: Salò or the 120 days of Sodom. Pasolini accomplished a journey inside the darkest side of the human soul, inspired, albeit only partially, by the work of Marquis De Sade. The movie created many scandals because of the numerous allusions to homoeroticism, at the time considered excessively strong.