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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 16, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 46
Mariasilvia Spolato, first out Lesbian in Italy, dies at 83
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Mariasilvia Spolato, first out Lesbian in Italy, dies at 83

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Mariasilvia Spolato, an Italian LGBT activist and reportedly the first woman to come out as a Lesbian in Italy, has died.

Spolato died on October 31 in a nursing home in Bolzano, a city in the South Tyrol province in northern Italy. She was 83 years old.

She had been admitted to the rest home after developing an infection in one of her legs.

Born in Padua, Spolato went on to graduate in mathematics. She then worked as a university lecturer in Milan and took part in the 1968 riots.

At a March 8, 1972, feminist rally in Rome, Spolato carried a sign proclaiming she was a Lesbian. Her pictures appeared on Italian magazine Panorama shortly thereafter, outing her to everyone she knew.

As a result, Spolato lost her job and her partner, and was shunned by her family. Although same-sex sexual activity was legalized in Italy in 1890, there were no anti-discrimination laws to protect the LGBT community until 2003.

Spolato had been homeless for many years, moving from town to town before ending up in Bolzano.

Lorenzo Zambello, a photographer who had met her when she was living in the rest home, said everyone in town knew her.

'She had suffered a lot, you could tell from her eyes,' he told the British publication Gay Star News.

'I met her four years ago when I went to the rest home to take pictures of those living there. She didn't want me to take her pictures at first.

'This spring, she came to me while I was taking pictures of the others and asked me for some pictures. She was in her wheelchair. Those were the last pictures I took of her.'

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