Was Luca Gay?

You mightn’t be aware, but there’s been a huge fuss in Italy over a song that’s been nominated for the Latin equivalent of the Ivor Novellos, the San Remo Music Festival. The tune in question is called “Luca was Gay”, and not surprisingly, the lyric has been causing a few people a few problems:

Rome, December 23 – Italian gay rights group Arcigay on Tuesday threatened to disrupt Italy’s biggest musical event of the year, the Sanremo song festival, if a song apparently about ‘converting’ gays to heterosexuality is not pulled.

The song by 36-year-old Milan singer-songwriter Povia, entitled Luca Was Gay, was announced on Monday as one of 16 numbers that will compete for the title of best song at next year’s festival in February.

There was some wise editorial from ex-gay watch:

Arcigay’s protest may not be a solution; it will not go down well with ex-gay groups, who can easily use this example to claim that gays are intolerant of ex-gays, as do groups like PFOX in the United States. In fact, Italian politican Luca Volonte from The Union of Christian and Centre Democrats was quoted as saying the move to force the song’s exclusion is “a clear attempt at discrimination and censorship”. Will this protest be used as a fodder for ex-gay ministries in the future? Time will tell.

which was then let down by some of the comments from site contributors:

There is a big difference between “censoring” or suppressing a song, and denying a pro-bigotry song top honors at a music festival.

Tolerance is not equivalent to affirmation, and it is ridiculous to claim that gay people must quietly allow bigotry to be affirmed lest they be accused of intolerance.

Why is this such a let down? Well, courtesy of Warren T we now have a translation of the song. Can anybody tell me what is bigoted about the following?

INTRO:
Luca was gay and now he’s together with her, Luca speaks from his heart, Luca says I’m another man.

1st VERSE:
Luca says: Before telling you about my sexual change, I want to clarify that if I believe in God I can’t recognise myself in human thought which is divided on this matter, I haven’t gone to psychologists, psychiatrists, priests nor scientists.

I’ve gone into my past, delved into it and found out a lot about myself.

My mother had too much love for me, her love turned into full obsession with her convictions, her attentions wouldn’t let me breathe.

My father used to take no decisions and I could never talk with him, he was away at work all day, but I had the feeling that wasn’t the truth, that’s why Mum asked for divorce, I was 12 and didn’t really understand my father, he said ‘that’s the right solution’ and started to drink after sometime.

Mum always spoke badly of Dad to me and used to say ‘never get married, for God’s sake.

She was sick jealous of my girlfriends and my identity was growing confused.

Chorus:
Luca was gay and now he’s together with her, Luca speaks from his heart, Luca says I’m another man

Luca was gay and now he’s together with her, Luca speaks from his heart, Luca says I’m another man.

2nd VERSE:

I’m another man now, but at that time I was looking for answers, I was ashamed so looked for my answers in hiding, some used to say ‘it’s natural.’

I studied Freud and he didn’t think the same, then high school finished but I didn’t know what happiness was, a big man made my heart shake and that’s when I knew I was a homosexual.

I had no inhibitions with him, he courted me and I thought that was love, yes with him I could feel myself, but then it became like a competition on who made the best sex.

I felt guilty, sooner or later they’ll catch him, but if evidence disappears he’ll be acquitted.

I was looking for who my father was in men, and I used to go with men not to betray my mother.

2nd Chorus:
Luca was gay and now he’s together with her, Luca speaks from his heart. Luca says I’m another man.

Luca was gay and now he’s together with her, Luca speaks from his heart, Luca says I’m another man.

SPECIAL:
Luca says: For 4 years I’d been with a man through love and deceptions, we often betrayed each other.

I was still looking for my truth, that big eternal love, then I met her at a party, among a lot of people, she had nothing to do with it all, she listened to me, undressed me, understood me. I only remember that I missed her the day after.

This is my story, only my story, no illness, no recovery.

Dear Dad, I’ve forgiven you even though you’ve never come back here.

Mum, I often think of you and I love you, and sometimes still see your reflection.

But now I’ve become a father and I’m in love with the only woman I’ve ever loved.

Final Chorus:
Luca was gay and now he’s together with her, Luca speaks from his heart, Luca says I’m another man.

Luca was gay and now he’s together with her, Luca speaks from his heart, Luca says I’m another man.

I grant you that some people might not like what Povia is describing of his life story, but how can relating ones own experiences be bigoted? Unless of course, the real issue is that groups like Arcigay simply don’t want anybody to hear an alternative understanding of human sexuality from the “once gay, always gay” mantra that they and others constantly churn out.

But, and in light of the Pet Shop Boys retrospective last night on the Brits, thank your lucky stars that at least Povia’s performance is guaranteed to be better than this:

Personally, I’m about to go North by North West (to the kitchen). Morning coffee beckons…

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16 Comments on “Was Luca Gay?

  1. In answer to the question in your title, I would say no. I do share your annoyance with those who claim that human sexuality is always polarised – even if I come to some different conclusions as a result… He sounds to me rather more like a confused adolescent than a gay man subduing his sexuality.

  2. I love that phrase “subduing his sexuality”. Sounds to me like you’ve a priori assumed that people’s sexual attractions can’t really change?

    What if, and its just supposition but no more supposition than the idea that everybody who reports changing sexual and emotional attractions wasn’t ever properly gay in the first place, what if most men who report being homosexual had events in their past which made them subconsciously turn away from women or towards men? Some of those events might be easy to unravel, some might be so enmeshed that they are never going to be undone. How would you test such a hypothesis?

  3. Sorry Justin, that came across a bit harsh. I just want to challenge the idea that most successful ex-gays are simply men and women who were either never really gay or are lying.

  4. I might be wading into something way beyond what I can get my head round from my solely heterosexual experience but… if I read you correctly Peter, you’re actually agreeing with Justin’s point. Your ‘what if’ supposes that “men who report being homosexual had events in their past which made them subconsciously turn away from women or towards men”.
    If an event causes a behaviour, couldn’t one therefore argue that the behaviour is not an expression of the real and actual nature or inclination or predisposition of that person but is, rather, a reaction, whether consciously or sub-consciously chosen? That would be quite different to someone who was unable to identify causation and simply felt homosexual feelings/interaction/expression to be their natural, honest, created behaviour.
    To summarise, I think I’m saying that if your ‘what if’ stands up, you’re not actually challenging, but are proving that “most successful ex-gays are simply men and women who were … never really gay”.

  5. Well I think what I’m suggesting is that “gay” is not something that is biologically intrinsic to the person. I think Justin would probably disagree with that statement (but if he doesn’t it would come as a pleasurable surprise).

  6. I think that statement is clearer Peter and therefore, more helpful for a lot of people who, like myself, aren’t living and haven’t lived the kind of tension that you guys are often found discussing.
    However, and I’m getting into semantics here (been reading your blog too long!), aside from physical constitution and the effect of physical components on the brain (I’m thinking in particular of chemical imbalances that cause psychoses of varying degrees), it doesn’t seem right to mix up sexual inclination with anything biological. I might need correcting with evidence of studies showing contrary, but I didn’t think there was anything anywhere proving either hetero- or homo-sexual inclination as having a biological basis.
    If sexuality is not ‘biologically intrinsic’, the argument moves to one over the inherent make-up of the individual as created by God and on that point, we get into a wide open space where God has purposed either only heterosexual or both heterosexual and homosexual inclination as part of an individual. If the former, then anything other-than is, in short, a distortion of God’s perfect purpose, comes out of our fallenness and is being changed like the rest of our sinful being. If the latter, your ‘what if’ or the lying option are both possible explanations because we are then in a place of not being able to deny homosexuality as inherent in some people.

  7. Peter said: Sorry Justin, that came across a bit harsh. I just want to challenge the idea that most successful ex-gays are simply men and women who were either never really gay or are lying.

    No apology needed – I wasn’t very clear in my first post as I didn’t mean to imply the idea above – although I can see why you might think I did. I meant to refer to the song specifically and not ex-gays (I think I prefer your post-gay label) in general. More in a while.

  8. Tim seems to capture the ‘is it innate or not’ dilemma very well – it probably won’t surprise you to know that I would come down on the innate side. However – and this is where I have been very interested in some of the posting on this blog – as I said above I think attempting to polarise human sexuality into either straight or not straight simply doesn’t work. The fact that we are emotionally complex beings, and the fact that there is a great deal more to a relationship – even if it is one involving sexual activity – that the mechanics of sex should by themselves suggest that this has to be the case. Add to that the fact that the act itself has meaning on a number of different levels – hedonism, procreation, establishment of relationships to name a few – and before you even consider the matter of orientation you realise that this aspect of the way God created us is about more than just the production of children. (You can see why I have a problem with the sort of strict orthodox argument that says sex is all about reproduction and nothing else, and therefore homosexuality of any kind is an aberration.)

    It’s when you get on to the question of orientation , though, that the ground becomes rather more difficult – not least because we are having to proceed without proof. I see as a fact that some of the people I know experience attraction to people of the same sex. I strongly suspect that many more people do than are prepared to admit it in public, if truth be told. A small number of these people only experience attraction to members of the same sex. Likewise, the majority of people I know experience attraction to people of the opposite sex. Some of them, exclusively so. So far so good. What I can’t prove is why this happens, and that’s the problem.

    More follows…

  9. I wonder if it’s worth going back and looking at Luca again. Luca’s first relationship looks abusive to me. Not because it was with another man, but because it seems to be mostly about self-gratification and there is no fidelity in it. It’s about the mechanical act, but there is no other meaning to it. Luca’s second relationship looks much more whole – again, not because it’s with a woman but because it seems to be about two people accepting each other for who they are. While it obviously has a sexual aspect it’s not the sex that came first.

    The fact that I think some – but not all – of our sexual nature is hardwired in means that I cannot condemn homosexual orientation, but it also means that I can’t condemn acting upon it – for this reason: from my point of view Luca could just as easily have had that first abusive relationship with a woman and then established that second relationship with another man. If this had been the case then I would say that the first relationship was sinful and the second quite the opposite. In either case, though, Luca is certainly happier at the end of the song than at the beginning, which has to be a good thing…

  10. Peter, just wondering, what do you mean by “biologically intrinsic to the person”? Might be making wrong assumptions here, but hope this is relevant… Some time ago Ex-gay Watch quoted Francis Collins, the geneticist, and I think his words throw some light on this. He said:

    “The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality — the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay points to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence. But the fact that the answer is not 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved. That certainly doesn’t imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable”.

    The link is http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2007/05/major-geneticist-francis-collins-responds-to-narth-article/ by the way.

    …that said, and I may be misunderstanding here – but why does the ‘biology thing’ matter to your (or anyone’s!) argument? A condition could be entirely genetically caused (e.g. cystic fibrosis… hope this is correct), yet not be in itself A Good Thing; just as environmental influences in the cause of a condition don’t make it a pathology. And the way something’s caused doesn’t necessarily bear on how changeable it is (a person’s height apparently is partly influenced by their environment, but that doesn’t make it changeable).

    in friendship, Blair

  11. Hi Blair,

    I think the biology thing matters to some extent because we need to get past this idea that people are “born gay”. As the piece you linked to argues, that’s simply not the case and the best picture we have is of a complex interaction of nature and nurture, that’s probably unique for each individual (which explains why some people find dealing with past emotional issues results in sexual orientation change and some don’t).

    I kinda recognise the comedians in the parody but I can’t quite place it. Sorry!!

    Perpetua, as far as I know, there is no video yet.

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